How do scammers in your community connect with you?
Do you trust me because I speak Spanish? That sounds like a strange question, but in some communities – and in some situations – it could be enough for someone to trust a stranger.
At the Fraud Affects Every Community workshop recently held at FTC headquarters, we heard from panelists living and working in diverse communities about ways scammers are using language, shared customs, relationships and community practices to steal people’s money.
Scammers might speak your language, share your culture or beliefs, and even attend your place of worship. They might understand the hard personal situations you’re facing – like job loss, immigration status, money woes, or family emergencies. They might come from the same country, neighborhood, or community as you. They might even be a community leader – or have convinced a community leader to help them get the word out about their product or service... which may turn out to be a scam.
Consider these scenarios:
- You get a call from someone who speaks the same language you do, selling you a work-at-home program. You feel comfortable with them, so you share personal information and stories. Before you know it, this feels like someone you can trust. But this could be a set-up. Scammers often use personal connections to make you feel comfortable – and get close enough to get your money.
- You identify with an ad on TV or radio featuring someone who looks or sounds like you. Because you identify with the person in the ad, you might believe what they’re saying. But not every ad is true. It could have been made, and paid for, by a scammer. Ads aren’t reviewed by an outside organization to make sure they’re legitimate before they run. You have to do your own research.
- Someone claiming to be a lawyer or government official tells you about a debt you need to pay, or asks you to buy something. In your community, highly-educated people, officials, and experts might command a lot of respect. But are they really the experts they claim to be? Check out their claims before you give them information or money.
You can spot possible scammers in your community, no matter who they seem to be. Whenever someone urges you to pay for something – stop. Check them out. Ask lots of questions, and do your own research on the company, person or product. Take your time deciding before giving your hard-earned money, or personal and financial information, to anyone.
Suspect a scam? Tell us about it! File a complaint with the FTC, or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.