Better check your stamps!
As if the U.S. Postal Service didn’t have enough trouble, having just posted an $8.5 billion loss in 2010, they’re now dealing with counterfeit stamps that could cheat it out of an additional $134.4 million.
The stamps look close enough to the real thing to easily fool consumers who purchase them at convenience stores or online. But they usually don’t fool scanners the postal service has installed to check mail as it’s being sorted.
Using a stamp the machines classify as bogus results in the mail being returned to the sender with a “Counterfeit Postage” stamp across the top.
And that could result in a critical bill, like rent or a car payment, going late.
Some stores sell stamps at a marked-up cost so that they can make a profit. There’s nothing wrong with that. But some sites sell postage at discounted rates, and that ought to raise eyebrows: postage is a lot like cash. So selling 44¢ stamps for, say, 35¢ each is like selling dollar bills for seventy-five cents.
Good luck finding a legitimate deal like that.
The postal service says that the easiest way to avoid counterfeit stamps is to purchase at the post office — which is often an inconvenience — or to purchase online at usps.com — which means you’ll have to plan ahead because you”ll be waiting for the stamps to be shipped to you.
Still, inconvenience is better than missing a payment.