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The author learned a lesson from trying to buy postage stamps on sale.

Do you use postage stamps? I have a very current story to tell, even though I’m embarrassed to tell it.

On Instagram and Facebook, I saw Christmas postage stamps on sale. Instead of 66 cents each, they would be 60% off.

What a bargain! Does the United States Post Office ever have a sale on stamps, I wondered? But when I saw that they were Christmas stamps with pictures of the Holy Family, I thought, “Perhaps the post office did have an overrun and printed too many — since people today seem to be sending fewer Christmas cards.” So with these thoughts in mind, I ordered $132 worth of these postage stamps on sale.

I don’t like to think about being old, but I have lived for 86 years. I know that older people, like me, tend to use postage stamps more than younger generations. I text and use email but not exclusively. And I like to mail Christmas cards to our family and many friends.

Since this seemed like such a good deal, I sent an email to our two daughters who immediately answered, saying, “Dad, this is a scam!” They advised me to try to stop my purchase, which had been made on my credit card.

VISA told me the purchase had been completed but they would dispute it. My son-in-law said I would be wise to cancel my credit card, which I hated to do, but I took his advice. My thought was, if these are crooks who are advertising stamps illegally, I may not receive the stamps. But, about two weeks later I received them. I immediately went across the street to my neighbor who works for the post office and she examined the stamps and said they looked authentic. I took them to our local post office, and the clerk also felt they were legitimate stamps. But she also told me, “The United States Post Office never, NEVER, puts stamps on sale.” I wrote to the Postmaster General, the Honorable Louis Dejoy, in Washington, D.C., to let him know.

When I shared this with friends I got advice like, “You didn’t cheat; you paid money for these stamps, so you can use them.” Someone said, “Since you are a pastor, you could use them to send mail to church members and incarcerated individuals.”

Another friend said, “Since you got them at 60% off, just use 60% of them.” Someone else said, “You can give them to me.”

What was I to do?

One of my daughters checked on the internet and learned that the company selling them was located in a private house in California and that the business had been involved earlier in selling counterfeit coins. And she found that the company was based in a foreign country. The company had an email address, so I wrote to them and mentioned what my daughter had found and requested my money back (which I didn’t expect to receive).

The answer to my dilemma came in prayer one day ... I did not want to stand before the Judge of the universe someday, having used illegal stamps, even if it cost me $132.

Two days after I made this decision, I received a letter from VISA saying that they had contacted the company and the company had reimbursed the $132.

When I returned the stamps to our local post office, the postmaster told me that the stamps were illegal and that their machines would likely not process them, but, if by chance they did, people would receive our Christmas cards “postage due.”

I’m embarrassed that I fell for this scam but I’m thankful for the lessons it has taught me: When there is a question, check things out and don’t be so hasty.

The author lives in Elizabethtown.

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