Millions of scam letters are being destroyed before they reach the doormats of potential victims across Britain, the Royal Mail has revealed.
It has stopped three million scam mail items from reaching customers since launching several initiatives to crack down on scam mail in November 2016 – a victory for our sister print publication the Daily Mail.
An investigation a month earlier by the Daily Mail found that scammers paid companies to bulk print fraudulent letters.
Those who get caught out by the contents can be left thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Royal Mail: It says it has blocked 3million scam letters since November 2016
The investigation showed that scam correspondence printed overseas found its way to Britain, where firms transported them to the Royal Mail.
The service then delivered them with its logo printed on the envelope.
The Daily Mail investigation saw Royal Mail bosses facing the wrath of government ministers after it was revealed it was making millions from bulk scam mail.
The Royal Mail admitted it faced difficulties with scam letters. Thanks to the law, once envelopes are sealed, neither it nor intermediary companies delivering it can open them to assess the content.
Shortly after this investigation, it announced the coordination of an industry-wide response – including a code of practice – to tackle fraudulent mail at its source.
The 3million milestone follows the launch of several new initiatives aimed at protecting people from scam mail, which can include invitations to participate in lotteries with fake prizes and letters from people posing as clairvoyants.
In March 2017, Royal Mail announced changes to the terms and conditions governing bulk mail contracts.
The changes enabled Royal Mail to follow up on solid intelligence by refusing to carry mail that is suspected to be fraudulent.
A spokesman for the service says he cannot go into detail as to how this is spotted, as the Royal Mail do not want to tip-off the fraudsters.
A month later, Royal Mail began proactively contacting, by Special Delivery, households receiving high volumes of scam mail.
Under the initiative Royal Mail blocks and impounds scam mail at its major distribution centres before it reaches the customer’s letterbox.
Legitimate business and personal mail continue to be delivered to the customer in the usual way.
Stephen Agar, managing director of letters at Royal Mail, said: ‘We are committed to doing everything we can to stop this fraudulent material from reaching UK households.
‘We continue to deploy a range of different initiatives to keep one step ahead of the scammers.’
Customers suffering from a deluge of scam letters can contact a dedicated Royal Mail helpline, e-mail address or freepost address for more information if they have any concerns.
They need to fill out a scam mail report – and then send it to Freepost Scam Mail or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In July 2017, the Royal Mail revealed it had stopped 1million scam letters – this 2million leap in eight months suggests that more are being spotted before being sent out.