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Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Threatening phone scams are targeting parents and immigrants

Two disturbing phone scams have popped up on the FTC’s radar. Both scams have one thing in common: they want to trick (and scare) you out of money. If you live on Staten Island, pay close attention, since these two scams seem to be targeting people in your area. But we know that scammers don’t often stick with one area, so they could expand their target area any time now.

The FTC Chairman is not writing to you

If you saw an email from FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, it wasn’t. From him, that is. Scammers pretending to be him are emailing, though. They’re trying to trick you into turning over personal information, like your birth date and home address, which could help them scam you. So: if you get an email from the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission about getting money because of an inheritance or relief funds related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — or anything else — do not respond. Do not give out your personal information. But do hit “delete.”

What to do when someone steals your identity

Did someone use your personal information to open up a new mobile account or credit card? Or maybe buy stuff with one of your existing accounts? Or did they file for unemployment or taxes in your name? That’s identity theft.

Empowering the Latino community to avoid and report scams

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month gives us a chance to reflect on the great contributions Latinos have made to society. To keep those contributions coming, it’s important to continue to do everything possible to protect Latinos from fraud. So let us take this opportunity to tell you about the resources we have for you — and tell you how to get them for free.

Heard about the “waiting package” phishing scam?

Phishing scams can be hard to spot. For example, we’ve been hearing about one where people get a text message saying that there’s a package waiting for them, and asking them to click a link to learn more. Sounds innocent enough, right? Unfortunately not.

Tips to help you prepare for — and recover from — natural disasters

More than 85 large wildfires are ripping across the West Coast, from California to Oregon and Washington. In the Southeast, people are just beginning to recover from Hurricane Sally, while more storms are brewing in the Atlantic. And the Midwest continues to recover from the recent derecho. Severe weather and natural disasters can occur anywhere — sometimes with little warning. The FTC’s site, Dealing with Weather Emergencies, has practical tips to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from a weather emergency. It’s mobile-friendly, so easy to get to when and where you need it.

How can you spot a tech support scam?

Are you getting pop-up warning messages on your computer screen? Or maybe a phone call that your computer has a virus? That may well be a tech support scam. But how do you know? And what do you do?

What to do when you (and your kids) are online at home

If you have kids in school, there’s a good chance they’re kicking off their school year…in your living room. All the while, you might be working away, yourself, in some carved out corner at home.

Those free COVID-19 money offers on WhatsApp and Facebook are scams

Have you seen a message on WhatsApp or Facebook offering you free help during the pandemic? People have reported seeing messages that seem to be from Pepsi, Walmart, Whole Foods, Target, and other big-name brands. These messages all offer money to people who need it — through grants, coupons for food support, or other giveaways. But they’re all fake, and not from those companies at all.

Hang up on fake “refund calls”

In 2019, the FTC reached a settlement with Elite IT and its owner, who tricked people into buying expensive computer repair services. Recently, scammers posing as Elite IT agents have been making calls, saying they will give refunds related to the case. That's a scam.

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