“The Federal Trade Commission works for America’s consumers in every community.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said those words, or heard them from my colleagues – and that’s a good thing. Since fraud affects every community in our country, it bears repeating: the FTC works for your community.
For many of us, homeopathy is one of those things we’ve heard of… but we might not be able to describe it, exactly. It’s a form of alternative medicine, and is based on the view that a substance that causes symptoms of an illness in a healthy person will — when diluted to a level that’s nearly undetectable — cure similar symptoms in sick people.
Why are we talking about this? Well, the FTC will be hosting a free, public workshop on September 21, 2015, to take a closer look at advertising for over-the-counter homeopathic products.
A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a sweepstakes scam using the FTC’s name to get people to send money. Now, there’s another sweepstakes-themed FTC imposter scam, and this one lays it on thick.
It starts with a letter from a lawyer in California. He says the FTC appointed him to notify you about a claim [spoiler: we didn’t], and includes a letter from FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright enlisting his help [spoiler: it’s fake].
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.
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.
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.
“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.