Mail Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission has enacted new rules to protect you when ordering by mail.

Did You Know

  • If an advertisement states that your merchandise will be 'rushed' to you within a certain time period, the manufacturer must do what has been stated within the ad.
  • If no date is given, the manufacturer must make the shipment within 30 days.
  • If the shipment is not mailed as stated within the allotted 30 days the consumer may cancel the order.
  • The only way the manufacturer can continue to delay the shipment is to mail you notification of the delay and give you the option to cancel with a full refund.
  • The manufacturer must provide you with a free means to reply (pre-stamped envelope or postcard). If you do not respond to the seller's notifications, the manufacturer may assume that you agree to the delay in shipping.
  • If you decide to cancel, the seller must refund all of your money within 7 days after you cancel.
There are several exceptions to these rules. Included are mail order photo finishing, magazine subscriptions, mail order seeds and growing plants, C.O.D. orders (collect on delivery), sales under 'negative option' plans (e.g. book clubs), and credit sales where the merchandise is not charged until after shipment is made.

What to do About Unordered Merchandise

  • If you did not order it, you may keep it. There is no obligation on your part to return it or to pay for it.
  • Any person or firm who mails you unsolicited merchandise may not harass you to return it or pay for it.
  • If you find yourself being harassed to pay for something you neither requested nor ordered, contact the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6200
  • Free merchandise from charitable institutions and clearly marked free samples may be sent through the mail. Other than these types of merchandise it is illegal to send unrequested merchandise through the mails.
  • You have rights as a consumer and these laws have been enacted to protect you from unethical business practices.
  • Businesses will have a hard time taking advantage of you when you know your rights and use them.