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Beware of scare tactics

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What arrives in the mail is sometimes not what it really appears to be. That is the takeaway in a new consumer alert.

“It's sort of a scare tactic to make you think that you need to do that to stay in compliance,” said Kaye Hughes, a victim of fraud.

No mincing words. Hughes is talking about mailing used to lure people into paying unnecessary fees.

Hughes is head of an alumni association required to file papers with the state for tax purposes.

“This company would be glad to file my reports for me, write the reports and submit them for me for a fee,” said Hughes.

Normally the process costs $15 but, this letter says the fee would be $150.

“I've done this for 8 to 10 years and I thought this is the first time I've ever heard of any kind of a $150 fee for something that was required.

She was afraid there had been some sort of change in the law and something new was required.

Hughes noticed a few things that looked suspicious: like the misspelling of a street - "Lees town" should be one word, also the return address was a UPS box.
 
So she called postal inspectors.

“It's somewhat a form of trickery…” said Lisa Verhusen, an U.S. postal inspector.

Inspectors say they see mailings like this every year.

“As long as they provide this service it is not fraud. But you don't have to go through them.  You can just file with the state for $15 like you do every year,” said Verhusen.

“I thought it was pretty sneaky for someone to i guess maybe play on your doubts about what the real process was,” said Hughes.

Postal inspectors say If you receive a suspicious mailing, always check with your state's attorney general or your local Better Business Bureau to see if the mailing is legitimate.