Taking action against scam mailers

March 2017

Scam mail is a terrible abuse of the postal system. Scams sent through the post take many different forms, but their common purpose is simply to rip people off – in particular the most vulnerable sections of our society.

While scams are not isolated to the postal service (and are commonplace in email traffic, texts and in social media channels) we want to see the eradication of scam mail from the postal industry. With that goal in mind, Whistl has worked with the other stakeholders to agree ways in which we can counter the threat of scam mail.

One of the challenges to taking effective action is that the law makes it an offence to open a letter or other postal item without reasonable excuse. The interception of scam mail would be a reasonable excuse. However, unless we had been notified that an item contains scam mail, we would not know which items to intercept. We cannot open every mail item. That sort of action would be a clear infringement of the privacy and confidentiality of communications.

To address this challenge, we have taken the following steps:

  • We will open mail items where we have reason to believe those items contain scam mail.
  • Where we identify a scam mailing, we will notify other postal operators of the scam and the sender so that they can take measures to prevent the scammer using their services or to stop scam mail items.
  • We will provide all evidence of any scam mail that we find to Trading Standards so that they can investigate.
  • Where we are notified by another postal operator, or by Trading Standards, of the identity of a scammer, we will refuse to carry that person’s mail.
  • We have updated our contracts and will be rolling out the changes to them in due course.

It is through the co-ordination of our anti-scam activities that the postal industry will be able to eliminate scam mail. We have not carried out these actions because we believe that our customers are involved in producing or sending scam mail. Quite the contrary: we would like our customers to be a part of the unified effort to drive out the scammers.

You can help by:

  • Being aware of the contents of the mail you are sending;
  • Notifying us or Trading Standards if you (or your customers) find any scam mail or are asked to produce any items of scam mail;
  • Transmitting through your supply chain the zero-tolerance policy for scam mail and adopting practices to counter scam mail.

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