Phone scammers spend their days making trouble. They waste our time, tie up our phone lines and harass us with ugly language. Some do much, much worse. The FTC has heard from people who got calls from scammers saying, “I’ve kidnapped your relative,” and naming a brother, sister, child or parent. “Send ransom immediately by wire transfer or prepaid card,” they say, “or something bad will happen.”
They’re lying. They didn’t kidnap anyone, but they hope you’ll panic and rush to pay ransom before checking the story.
Recently, I told you about the new credit and debit chip cards designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting. Now, I'm reporting on scammers who are trying to take advantage of the millions of consumers who haven't yet received a chip card.
It’s been a year of weather woes, with South Carolina being the latest victim – floods have swept across much of the state. You can be sure it’s only a matter of time before scammers come calling to wreak a different type of devastation.
Here are some ways to arm yourself against scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people.
Coming to a wallet near you: new credit and debit chip cards. They’re part of a nationwide shift by major card issuers to offer added security against fraud. The new cards look like your old cards with one exception: they have a small square metallic chip on the front. The chip holds your payment data — some of which is currently held on the magnetic stripe on your old cards — and provides a unique code for each purchase. The metallic chip is designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting. Here’s how it works...
Scammers are big on hiding behind fake names and titles. We’ve heard from hundreds of people who got calls from fake ‘court officials’ about jury duty. The fraudsters claimed to be court officers, accused people of skipping jury duty and said they had to pay a fine immediately or face arrest. If you get a call like that, hang up. That’s not a real official calling.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the heritage and culture of Hispanic communities across the country, and recognize their many contributions to American life. At the FTC, we join the celebration as we work to combat deception and fraud in marketplaces targeting Hispanic communities.
Growing up, we all learned that money doesn’t grow on trees. Here’s another hard truth: the federal government is not giving away thousands of dollars in grants to people who pay their taxes on time, have no criminal records, never declared bankruptcy or were ‘selected in a demographic survey.' Anyone who claims you’ll get ‘free money’ for those reasons is trying to scam you.
Counsel for International Consumer Protection, FTC
People who’ve recently arrived in the US have a lot of adjustments to make. For many refugees and immigrants, and some of the social services groups who help them, the basics come first: figuring out language, food, shelter, and work. Understanding how to avoid fraud isn’t high on the list – until a scam finds a recent arrival.
That’s why the FTC has created new materials to help refugees and immigrants spot, avoid and report scams. We worked closely with the International Rescue Committee to create a short handbook to help anyone identify a sure sign of a scam.