With the rise in counterfeit postage scams on social media lately, it’s important to know how to identify fake stamps so you don’t get ripped off or have your mail discarded. The United States Postal Service warns against purchasing postage from unauthorized third-party vendors, but sometimes the deals seem too good to pass up. I’ll explain what to look out for so you can avoid counterfeits and make sure your mail gets delivered.
What Are Counterfeit Stamps?
Counterfeit stamps refer to fake reproductions of valid USPS postage created by scammers. They are often sold online in bulk quantities at deep discounts compared to the face value. For example, an ad might offer a roll of 100 Forever Stamps for $30 when they are actually worth $49 at face value. The purpose is to dupe buyers into thinking they are scoring a bargain on legitimate stamps.
How To Spot Fake Stamps
While counterfeit stamps used to be noticeably lower quality in the past, scammers have gotten better at producing more realistic fakes. However, there are still some telltale signs to look out for:
- Being sold online at a steep discount in bulk quantities
- Not purchased directly from the USPS or authorized retailer
- Minor differences in design, color, or text compared to real stamps
- No signature fluorescent USPS markings visible under black light
The safest option is to only buy stamps directly from the USPS or official retailers like grocery stores and office supply shops. Avoid online marketplaces offering deals that seem too good to be true.
Consequences of Using Counterfeit Stamps
If you mistakenly use fake stamps on your mail, there can be serious consequences:
- The USPS will most likely identify them when going through processing
- Any mail with counterfeit postage will be treated as “abandoned” and disposed of
- You lose the money spent on the value of your now-discarded mail pieces
This outcome would be devastating for important letters, invitations, bills, etc. Not to mention the sunk cost of whatever you paid for the fake stamps in the first place. That’s why avoiding counterfeits is critical.
Protect Yourself From Scams
Here are some tips to steer clear of counterfeit stamp scams:
- Only buy directly from the USPS website, local post office, or authorized retailer
- Avoid deals on sites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace
- Learn to identify fakes using the signs outlined earlier
- Trust your intuition – if an offer seems too good to be true, walk away
Following these guidelines will help ensure you don’t get tricked by counterfeit operations. Take the extra time to buy valid stamps so all your mail arrives safely.
People Also Ask
How can you tell if a stamp is fake?
Look out for stamps sold in bulk online at steep discounts, minor design/color/text differences from real stamps, no USPS fluorescent signature under black light, and not purchased directly from the USPS or authorized retailer.
What happens if you put a fake stamp on an envelope?
The USPS will likely identify it in processing and then dispose of the mail piece as “abandoned.” You lose the money spent on postage and the value of your now discarded mail.
Can you go to jail for fake stamps?
Yes, depending on the specifics, you may face federal charges for counterfeiting United States postage, which can include prison time and heavy fines if convicted.
How long do fake stamps last?
Fake stamps don’t properly work from the start. Counterfeits won’t have the authentic USPS postal markings, so they will be spotted and the mail discarded fairly quickly in the sorting process.