The 411 on fraud in the 404
When is it uplifting to talk about obstacles to economic opportunities? When a room full of people at a joint conference of the NAACP and the FTC spend a day making the connections we all need to help overcome scams and exactly those obstacles in our communities.
That’s what happened in Atlanta late last month, when state and federal government agencies, consumer advocacy groups, legal services organizations, and NAACP chapter leaders met. We talked about the frauds that affect the African American community – housing issues, debt collection, short-term loan scams, car-buying issues, and income and employment scams. Of course, many communities see these scams, but the impact on the African American community – not just in Georgia, but nation-wide – is clear.
Here’s some of what we heard:
- African Americans are denied mortgages at a higher rate than other groups – even when credit ratings and salaries are the same.
- Some debt collectors are threatening people with arrest to get them to pay – and the person might not even owe the debt.
- Job scams are alive and well, promising certifications that will “guarantee” jobs (they don’t), or offering good government jobs but actually selling training materials. Some investment scams operate the same way, but charge some hefty up-front fees.
- Georgia authorities are seeing a drop-off in mortgage fraud – but an uptick in auto loan fraud. Sometimes by the same convicted mortgage lenders.
At the FTC, we know that fraud affects every community, and last month’s discussion bears that out. It also shows how certain communities can be targeted – but also how there are advocacy, legal services, and government agencies working every day to fight scams. Last month’s meeting, along with the Scam Jam held that evening, helped us find new and better ways to work together to protect the people in our communities. We’ll keep working to apply those lessons to communities nationwide.