Published on July 30th, 2018 | by Sam Rose
Stamping Out Stamp Fraud
Over the years, stamp fraud has proved to be an issue for many businesses and retailers. Used and counterfeit stamps come at a cost to the public and can cost the UK economy millions of pounds yearly. To combat against stamp fraud, there are several areas of guidance issued by the Royal Mail.
How to Spot a Fake Stamp
Since 2009, every postage stamp issued in the UK contains several anti-fraud features to help you determine their validity. When purchasing or using stamps, you should be able to spot specific die cuts within the stamp itself. If you are unable to see this, you may be handling a counterfeit version. You should also be able to read the words ‘Royal Mail’ printed in special ink across the surface of the stamp. Along with this, the oval perforations should be wider along both sides, close to the stamp base.
It can initially be difficult to spot these features when viewing stamps on a website or digital screen. Instead, there are several abnormalities that will help you determine whether the stamp you’re looking at is genuine. One obvious sign is if the price of the stamps is advertised at less than the prices offered by the Royal Mail. Any official retailer or store that is licensed to sell Royal Mail stamps must agree by the official pricing given by the Royal Mail. If the security ovals look to be missing, damaged or uneven, then this is another sign of a fake stamp. If the stamp is an unusual colour, has uneven borders or is printed on an unusually shiny surface, then you could be looking at an unofficial and illegal 1st or 2nd class stamp.
How to Spot a Used Stamp
Like counterfeit stamps, there are several ways to help identify if a stamp has been previously used. Much like counterfeit stamps, used stamps can also be advertised at lower prices compared to the official registered ones. Wear and tear such as fainter print, faded colours and a damaged surface also signify that a stamp is invalid. Viewable cancellation marks and damaged or removed security ovals are another way to determine how new a stamp is.
The presentation of a stamp or several stamps is also important in understanding if you are purchasing previously used versions. If any old envelope or backing paper is still attached to the back of a stamp, then this shows the stamp has been illegally removed. Likewise, if stamps arrive ungummed or have been stuck onto a piece of plain backing paper, these are not Royal Mail official versions. Official Royal Mail stamps are sold on paper that includes a unique security print.
What to Do if You Encounter Stamp Fraud
The Royal Mail advise that if you encounter stamp fraud or are victim to it, you should contact them on their website. The online form will ask you to provide details of how you came across the stamps, where you found or purchased them, and the type of stamps involved (1st Class or 2nd Class). Should the Royal Mail need any additional information to follow up on stamp fraud cases, they will follow this up where necessary.
The Royal Mail explain their stance on stamp fraud further, stating: “It is a crime to knowingly use counterfeit or re-used stamps to avoid paying Royal Mail the full amount required for the postal service received. Anyone who does so may face criminal prosecution or Royal Mail may take civil action to recover money owed to us.”
How to Purchase Official Royal Mail Stamps
The best way to help stamp out stamp fraud is to only purchase from licensed retailers, official Royal Mail partners and the Royal Mail website. Here at the Post Office Shop, we’re licensed to sell Royal Mail postage stamps, alongside a wide range of themed stamps and other collectibles. Our website is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday meaning you can restock on stamps or purchase a great selection of unique gift ideas at your convenience.