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Six-Cent and Other Short-Paid Postage

Since about 1988, unscrupulous people have promoted a fraudulent scheme to sell "secret" information that claims it is legal to send a First-Class letter for only 2 cents, 3 cents, or 6 cents. For various prices, often ranging from $5 to $20, the promoter sends you a copy of an out-of-date federal law that was eliminated by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (Title 39 of the United States Code).

Don't be misled by a promoter's claim that his letter, advertising the "secret," reached you with only a 2-cent, 3-cent, or 6-cent stamp. A few underpaid letters do get through the Postal Service's automated mail processing equipment, but most don't. So, if you buy the "secret," not only will you be wasting your money, you will also have any short-paid letters you send either returned to you or delivered to the addressees who will be charged the additional postage due.

Also, don't be misled if the promoter claims that the law that reflects the lower postage rate has never been changed by the U.S. Congress. Prior to passage of the Postal Reorganization Act, postage rates were set by the Congress, and the rate of postage for First-Class Mail was 6-cent. However, when the Post Office Department became the U.S. Postal Service in July 1971, the power to prescribe postal rates was delegated to the Postal Service.

Under the new law, postal rates were no longer established by direct legislative enactment, but through administrative action by the Postal Service Board of Governors and the independent Postal Rate Commission. Also, Section 3 of the act provided that postage rates, as well as classes of mail and fees for postal services, prescribed before the effective date of the new law, were to remain in effect until they were changed in accordance with the new administrative rate-making procedures outlined by the Act.

If you begin selling obsolete postal rate material to others, you will be engaging in a promotion which violates the False Representation Statute (Title 39, United States Code, Section 3005) and may be in violation of the Mail Fraud Statute (Title 39, United States Code, Section 1341), a federal felony law.

When you open your mail, if you receive an offer for an information package on how to send First-Class Mail using only a 2-cent, 3-cent, or 6-cent stamp, give the envelope and its contents back to your postal letter carrier, or forward it to your local postmaster or the nearest Postal Inspector.