BELLEFONTE, PA: The American Philatelic Society has received a report of a phone scam perpetrated by individuals who claim they are part of the APS staff. The individuals in question represented themselves as part of the American Philatelic Society and requested payment in advance in exchange for selling the collection of the man who received the call. The phone numbers provided by the perpetrators were connected to a fake APS voicemail recording.
The American Philatelic Society has been in contact with local law enforcement to address this report. If you have experienced a similar scam, please contact Ken Martin at the APS.
To remind our members and stamp collectors across the country: the APS does not purchase stamp collections. The APS will never make an unsolicited call or offer to members or non-members, or pressure you to make an immediate decision or payment. All official APS correspondence occurs through the phone number (814) 933-3803 and email domain stamps.org.
If you receive a suspicious call that you believe may not be from the American Philatelic Society, we encourage you to hang up and call the Society back at our official phone number. Likewise, if you receive an email claiming to be from the American Philatelic Society or American Philatelic Research Library, APS staff, or the APS Board, check the email address carefully to make sure that it is from stamps.org. Be especially careful if the email asks for sensitive information (like credit card information, birth dates, social security number, or passwords) or directs you to an external link.
The APS will be happy to respond to inquiries on a dealer or individual's APS member status. If you are looking for someone to buy your collection, we suggest visiting our member dealer directory.
How to Recognize Scams and Fraudulent Deals
Has a company offered to purchase your stamps without seeing them? Have you been pressured to make an immediate decision? Have they asked you to be bonded or require hefty membership fees before they can help you? Does the seller provide their own certification of authenticity for all items they are selling? Does the offer sound too good to be true? These questions present potential red flags and should cause suspicion.
Professional stamp dealers and legitimate sellers rarely make cold calls or charge fees in advance of services. They are less likely to push you to make a quick decision, and they will properly identify themselves so you can pass their information on to other potential buyers and sellers.
So what can you do to avoid fraud?
Don’t believe your caller ID.
With today’s technology it is easy for scammers to falsify caller ID information. The name and number you see aren’t always necessarily real. Write down the caller ID information as it may help in your investigation.
Take your time and gather information.
Do not be rushed or pressured into anything. If you are told the offer will not be good if you don’t act immediately, walk away from it. It’s important to take the time to know for sure who you are dealing with before agreeing to anything. Ask callers for their professional affiliations. Ask them for the company’s address, the owner’s name, web address and phone number, advising them that you will consider once you can confirm legitimacy.
Investigate and call someone.
Don’t take everything at face value. Con artists will doctor pictures, copy logos and create fake websites. Phone calls and quick web searches could save you from losing your money or stamps. If it is an online seller and they claim to be a member of a known organization, call the organization and confirm the affiliation. If they provide a website, check it out. A site that provides very few details and does not provide contact information of company representatives is a red flag.
Request the Offer in Writing.
If a caller is making you an offer, advise that you want it in writing so that you can read, understand and agree to the terms before you sign or pay for anything. If they send you a contract, this could also provide additional information about the company that will help to confirm legitimacy.
Don’t pay upfront for a promise.
Someone might ask you to pay in advance for services or stamps and may even tell you that you need to pay certain fees upfront. Again, unless you do your homework and know who you are dealing with, this is not recommended. There is a chance they will take your money and disappear.
Use a credit card for purchases and never give out your banking or personal details especially when there is doubt.
If you agree to a purchase, a credit card gives you better fraud protection than a debit card or bank transfer. Credit cards are governed by different rules that allow you to dispute an unauthorized or fraudulent charge and the credit card company in most cases will remove the charge until it investigates.