Counsel, FTC's DIvision of Consumer & Business Education
Do you offer your professional services as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver? You may have used websites that can match you up with potential clients – sites like Care.com or Sittercity.com. These sites can be a convenient and efficient way to drum up business. But scammers may misuse these sites. FTC staff has seen hundreds of complaints about con artists cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme that asks you to send payment to a third party. Details may vary, but, in general, the scam works like this:
Listing your business in a directory can be an effective way to advertise the products or services you offer potential customers. But be sure you know what you’re getting for your money... and that you even asked for the listing in the first place.
Thinking about giving a fancy new gadget as a holiday gift? Or maybe there’s something on your wish list that Santa forgot to bring? If so, you might be tempted by an ad for high-tech at a low price. But if a merchant other than Amazon.com asks you to pay using an Amazon gift card, it’s probably a scam. In fact, Amazon’s gift card terms don’t allow you to use Amazon gift cards to make payments anywhere besides amazon.com and a few specific sites.
If you are a yoga teacher, massage therapist, or other wellness practitioner, you’ve probably worked hard to get the word out about your services. And it’s a good feeling when new customers reach out to you. Unfortunately, though, scammers pretending to be new customers are looking to disrupt your Zen — and take your money.
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Many people around the world dream of getting a “Green Card” that allows them to live and work in the United States. The U.S. Department of State runs the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program, also known as the Diversity Visa Lottery. People from certain countries who apply and are selected in a lottery drawing could qualify to be “Lawful Permanent Residents.” Unfortunately, the FTC has seen websites that claim to be affiliated with the program, but are not.
Have you seen news reports about foreign websites showing live feeds from unsecured wireless cameras — like nanny cams, baby monitors, and security cameras — in the U.S. and around the world? It’s creepy stuff, but there are steps you can take to protect your camera from prying eyes.
Ripping off older people puts you in a special category of low-life scam artists. What about ripping off older people you know have already fallen for a telemarketing scam? That makes you a first ballot selection for the Scam Artist Hall of Shame. According to the FTC, that’s exactly what Consumer Collection Advocates did.
Selling your used stuff online has become commonplace. So have scams taking advantage of the good names of reputable online companies. At the FTC, we’ve heard from people stung by scammers spoofing PayPal. The scam generally goes like this: You post a high-value item, like a used car, for sale online. In no time at all, you get an email from a buyer willing to pay full price — or more! But he sets conditions; he is only willing to pay by PayPal or insists the sale must happen right away. What’s really going on? A ruse to steal your personal information, money or merchandise.
Here are some suspicious situations to look for and steps to safe selling online.
“Your computer is damaged ... we’ll help you fix it.” It’s the latest twist on tech support scams: Scammers sell software online that claims to increase your computer’s performance. They lure you to their websites with pop-up ads or web searches. Then, they tell you to call a phone number to activate or register the software. On the phone, they ask for remote access to your computer and then tell you that your computer has many errors that need to be fixed immediately.