Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

DALLAS (CBS11 I-Team) – Bob Imler looks down at a phone on a table.

“I want to know what this is about?”

Imler is talking to a customer representative at United Merchandise Clearinghouse. He is questioning a postcard that’s arrived in the mail.

“Why is it if I look on the internet I see this same card and it’s reported as a partial delivery scam?

The customer representative continues to tell Imler exactly what the card states.

“We are holding a parcel in your name.” The postcard says it is jewelry. The representative tells Imler it’s a necklace worth $50.00. All he needs to do is give his credit card number to pay the $11.95 delivery fee.

“I’m afraid what they really want is a valid credit card number and that security code.”

Similar postcards have been mailed to the United Kingdom. The National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre has sent out alerts.

So, the I-team reached out to UMC, United Merchandise Clearinghouse also.

Two different customer representatives, including a manager, told us that UMC is a distribution company working with retailers like Walmart, CVS and Target. They repeatedly told us UMC had been hired to send out these cards offering an appreciation gift to customers who shopped at the stores within the last 120-days. All you have to do is pay the delivery fee.

When the I-team asked for UMC’s email address, the reps gave us an address to an automotive distribution company in California. It claims to have no ties with UMC, and neither do those big retailers.

Walmart sent us the following statement:
“The postcards from United Merchandise Clearinghouse and Advanced Marketing are not affiliated with Walmart. Unfortunately, people occasionally take advantage of our brand to perpetrate these types of scams. The safety and privacy of our customers is a top priority and Walmart does not sell or rent personal information. We are looking into this and will continue to monitor this situation closely. Here’s more information about signs of fraud and how our customers can protect themselves.”

CVS sent us this statement:

“That company is not working on behalf of CVS and we are not associated with its free jewelry offer. We never provide our customers’ personal information to third parties. I have alerted our Legal Department about this situation.”

And Target sent us this statement:

“Target is not affiliated with this program. We always encourage guests who have any questions or receive suspicious communications. There are a lot of scams with postcards that go around.”
But she assured the I-Team, this is not one.

Bob Imler says, “People…need to be careful.”

The I-team also reached out to the United Postal Inspector. It sent us this statement:

“Thanks for contacting the U.S. Postal Inspection Service regarding United Merchandise Clearinghouse. At this time, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is monitoring the complaints against United Merchandise Clearinghouse and the postcards they are mailing to households throughout the country. Several postal customers have complained about receiving a postcard from the company that states they are holding jewelry in their name, but they must pay a $8.95 processing and delivery fee by telephone in order to receive it.

Here are few tips consumers of all ages can follow to avoid these and other similar scams:

Good judgment is a consumer’s last—and best—line of defense against a con artist. Consumers can avoid these scams by doing the following:
• Never pay to receive a prize or enter a sweepstakes or contest.
• Be skeptical if you’re told you’re a guaranteed prize winner or there’s no risk involved.
• Before mailing money or providing your credit card or bank information in response to a solicitation, do your homework. Research the company online or contact consumer-fraud agencies.
• Do not respond to these mailings.

Consumers can report fraud online or by calling 877-876-2455 (option 4).

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the Postal Service. We work to ensure America’s confidence in the U.S. Mail by enforcing more than 200 federal laws in investigations of crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S. Mail, the postal system, or postal employees. U.S. Postal Inspectors are federal law enforcement agents who conduct investigations of postal-related crime, such as mail fraud and theft, violent crimes against postal employees, revenue fraud, dangerous mail, illegal drugs in the mail, and child exploitation conducted via the mail.”

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)