The next time you visit your parents, other elderly family members, or older friends, Postal Inspectors advise you to watch for these areas of concern:
  • Look for stacks of unsolicited mail proclaiming the recipient to be "a guaranteed winner" or offering lottery tickets for sale.

  • Look for notebooks containing handwritten records of solicitors.

  • Watch for an unusual number of packages on hand containing inexpensive costume jewelry, plastic cameras, or wristwatches.

  • Note if they are receiving unsolicited telephone calls from fast-talking operators offering "fantastic" opportunities to claim prizes or make sure-fire investments. If so, you can arrange for an unlisted phone number.

  • Volunteer to help balance their checkbooks, and ask about any questionable checks or sudden, large withdrawals. Offer to go over credit card statements to ensure that only authorized purchases are listed.

  • Offer to pick up their mail to see if they are receiving unsolicited sweepstakes or lottery offers. If so, they may be on a variety of "sucker lists" being circulated by con artists. Have a trusted family friend help check the mail daily.

  • Talk to them about evaluating offers they receive in the mail or on the phone from someone they don't know. Suggest that they talk over such offers with someone before accepting them.

    If you suspect fraud, contact the Postal Inspection Service.