Elderly woman warns of junk mail scam risk
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Oct 16, 2012 | 1684 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GAZEL PHILPOT reads a letter that seems to say she has won $12,000. However, the official rules on the back of the letter explain the letter only confirms a chance to win. Such offers try to get people to send in money, supposedly for processing fees, in order to claim the prize.  Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
GAZEL PHILPOT reads a letter that seems to say she has won $12,000. However, the official rules on the back of the letter explain the letter only confirms a chance to win. Such offers try to get people to send in money, supposedly for processing fees, in order to claim the prize. Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
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Unsolicited mail is a common occurrence in today’s world of marketing. Yet, consumers should be aware that “junk mail” offering prizes or money is most likely too good to be true.

Cleveland resident Gazel Philpot received such a letter last week. The letter makes it look like the recipient has won $12,000 and must respond immediately to reclaim the prize.

However, the official rules listed on the back of the letter state in bold print, “Receipt of this offer represents an opportunity to enter our sweepstakes and does not indicate the recipient has already won” — even though the front of the letter refers to the person as a “confirmed eligible winner.”

Another piece of paper in the envelope tells of a $3,000 Consumer Savings Value and requests $19.99 to be enrolled in the money-saving program.

Philpot said this is not the first letter like this she has received.

Philpot had not entered a contest when she received the first letter making it sound like she had won.

“They make you think that you’ve already won,” Philpot said.

The document said the company needed $29 for processing the winnings.

She sent off the money.

But she never received her winnings. Instead her mail box has become full of similar mailings.

“Every day I get about three or four or five,” Philpot said.

Philpot said she took one of the letters to her bank to get a professional opinion.

“And they said it was a scam,” Philpot said.

The letters have come from a variety of companies. The resident said she thinks one of the companies sold her information to the others.

Many scams target the elderly.

Reading the details of offers that one did not apply for is the key to not losing time and money. Simple research can save consumers the stress of realizing later they have been scammed.

An Internet search for Continential Prize Distributors, one of the companies that has sent a “prize” letter to Philpot, reveals the company has been listed on some consumer complaint sites.

Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, in its “Don’t get scammed!” publication, warns consumers to be skeptical if they did not enter a drawing.

The publication also cautions people to watch out for unsolicited prizes that require a fee. The legitimacy of a company can be researched on the Better Business Bureau’s website at www.bbb.org.