Every spring, the FTC issues its Annual Highlights for the previous year. It’s like a corporate annual report, summarizing what we did and how we did it. Interested in our mission to protect consumers? Here are some of 2014’s highlights.
Some companies’ privacy policies say they participate in the “U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.” But that doesn’t mean they have an accident-free shipyard. It has to do with U.S. companies reassuring European residents about the privacy and security of their personal information.
Identity thieves may already have a lot of information about you – like your credit card number, the card’s expiration date, and your name, address, and phone number. With all that information in his hands, why would he call you? He’s after one vital piece of information – the security code on your credit card.
Here’s a scam with an FTC angle. The letter has an official-looking FTC seal and is signed by “FTC Director” Jessica Rich. It says someone at the FTC will help you claim a cash prize you’ve won, and will help ensure delivery. That is, after you pay off the more than $5,000 “Legal Registration Bond.”
The language might sound legal, and the letter might look legit. You might look up Jessica Rich and see she’s an actual FTC official. But the truth is, there’s nothing legal or official about it. It’s a fake letter designed to convince you to send money for a non-existent prize.
Respectfulness and politeness — they’re valued in many close-knit communities. But when you’re dealing with a scammer, those values can backfire, as we’ve heard during our ongoing effort to fight fraud in every community. Scammers try to take advantage of your politeness to get you to hand over money or personal information.
Here are some situations when it would be just fine to interrupt, hang up, and not give a caller the time of day.
Here at the FTC, we think about scams all day long. What are the scammers’ new angles? How can we keep ahead of them? We hear from people about the scams they see, and we turn that into tips people use to spot and avoid scams.
But scammers find FTC staff, just as they find the rest of America. In fact, someone claiming to work for the IRS called my house just last week.
The email says it’s a court notice from the Bureau of Defaulters Agency-FTC with your arrest warrant record attached. It says you’ve ignored their efforts to contact you, so now your Social Security Number is on hold by the federal government, you’ll be prosecuted for fraud, and you’ll owe all kinds of money when you’re found guilty. You’ve got just 24 hours to respond.
It’s not true. There is no Bureau of Defaulters, and the FTC doesn’t send emails like this to people.