Cheatin’ hearts

In observance of National Consumer Protection Week, which is March 5-11, the Postal Inspection Service is taking aim at those who steal more than hearts: romance scammers.

With loneliness epidemic in the United States, these predators have an enormous pool of potential victims to prey on. Older people are particularly susceptible to their empty promises.

How do they scam thee? The Postal Inspection Service website counts the ways:

• They pledge their love way too quickly.
• They ask you to send or receive money or packages.
• They need money right away because of a medical or family emergency.
• They need a visa or plane tickets.
• They claim a business opportunity arose that was too good to turn down, and they ask you to wire a loan.

A few signs your online Romeo or Juliet may be a thieving Lothario include a mismatch between their name and the name embedded in their email address; obvious spelling and grammar errors in their messages; and an online profile that suddenly disappears from the dating site.

Inspectors advise those looking for love online to protect themselves by following these tips:

• Keep personal details to yourself.
• Do a quick Google search of the other person’s name and the town they claim to live in.
• Proceed slowly and look for inconsistencies in their profile and the information they share.
• Keep an eye out for signs the relationship is moving in a direction that it wouldn’t otherwise go if meeting in real life.
• Gently apply the brakes if your new friend pushes to take the conversation to private email. Stay on the website’s platform until it’s time to meet in person.

If you are a victim of a scam or suspect fraud, submit an online report to the Inspection Service or call 877-876-2455.

It may not sound terribly romantic, but hope — and love — spring eternal.

As Postal Inspector Andrea Avery puts it: “Don’t give up on love. Just give up on scammers.”

A better deal

A sales lead from a rural carrier in Texas has resulted in a shipping deal worth more than $73,000 for the Postal Service.

Mireya Hernandez, who works at the East Frisco Carrier Annex, helped a customer who was looking to reduce shipping costs.

Hernandez took the customer’s information and submitted a lead.

Joseph Fandozzi Buggs, a sales representative, followed up with the customer and closed a shipping deal worth $73,440 in new estimated annualized revenue for the Postal Service.

“This customer is an eBay reseller and was using a competitor for shipping,” said Lou DeReinzo, a small-business senior specialist at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC. “But Mireya knew that USPS could do better and took the extra effort to help her customer save on shipping.”

Sales generated from employee leads are included in the USPS Delivering for Main Street campaign to raise revenue through sales leads.

The Postal Service is encouraging as many employees as possible to submit at least one lead by Sept. 30 through LEADing Together, a new program that makes it easier to pass along sales tips.

The LEADing Together portal combines the Postal Service’s six employee lead generation programs into one.

Postal employees with ACE IDs can submit leads through the new Employee Lead Entry site on Blue by selecting the “LEADing Together” link under “Featured Topics.” Employees who do not have an ACE ID can access the site through LiteBlue by selecting “LEADing Together” under the “Featured Topics” tab.

Customer 360 users can click on “LEADing Together” to access the site on that platform. Letter carriers who use a mobile delivery device, or MDD, can enter leads while on street mode, under option “U.” Business Connect Portal users have to enter a lead through the Employee Lead Entry site if an activity requires sales assistance or has resulted in a sale.

The Small Business and Lead Generation Programs Blue page has more information about how employees can submit a lead.

Fur babies

Online criminals don’t need to know much to figure out the passwords to personal online accounts. If you are a pet owner, sometimes all they need is your pet’s name.

Approximately 48 million Americans own dogs, while nearly 32 million own cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Studies show pet owners usually love their fur babies so much that they often use their names as passwords.

One study found at least 39 percent of American pet owners use passwords based on their pets’ names.

Cybercriminals use social engineering — malicious activities that rely on human error to trick users into revealing private information — to learn important details about their victims, like pet names.

The information is later used to decipher passwords and security questions to gain access to personal and business accounts.

Social engineering encompasses phishing, smishing and vishing, fraudulent messages from seemingly legitimate organizations or other entities sent by email, text and voice mail or phone calls.

Some social engineering attempts, such as phishing emails with spelling or punctuation errors, are easy to spot. However, new artificial intelligence programs, such as ChatGPT, eventually might make social engineering nearly impossible to detect.

To protect yourself, the CyberSafe at USPS team recommends the following:

Limit. Be careful sharing information online about your family, job or other personal details.

Verify. If you receive a request for information, make sure the person or company is legitimate. Never send information if you have any doubts.

Report. If you suspect you are being targeted on your USPS-issued device, immediately call the Cybersecurity Operations Center at 866-877-7247 or send an email to

The CyberSafe at USPS Blue and LiteBlue pages have additional information.