We hear first-hand stories from people around the country about how scammers are targeting people in every community. And while the techniques the scammers use may vary, there’s one thing these scams have in common: sometimes, the first step in avoiding a scam is talking about it with someone you trust.
Patience is a virtue. So is persistence. Three years ago, the FTC temporarily halted a sophisticated scheme run by Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc. that defrauded millions of consumers out of tens of millions of dollars. Here’s how it worked: The defendants bought consumer payday loan applications, including Social Security numbers and bank account numbers, from data brokers and payday loan websites. Ideal Financial used the information to take money from consumers’ bank accounts — without their OK or even their knowledge. So the court froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to control the business while awaiting trial. Fast forward to March 2016.
Sunday marks the start of the eighteenth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). It’s a time to learn about and share information to help people make more informed buying decisions and recognize, guard against, and report scams and fraud.
The more than 100 agencies and organizations involved in NCPW are on the front lines of consumer protection every day, and are committed to giving you the resources you need to navigate today’s marketplace.
The FTC received more than 3 million complaints in 2015. That’s up from 2.5 million in 2014. Some of the increase can be attributed to the fact that more people know to complain to the FTC about bad business practices, frauds and scams. Technology helped, too — more complaints are reaching the FTC through the convenience of mobile apps. The top three complaint categories are still debt collection, identity theft, and imposter scams. The FTC took aggressive action in 2015 to help address each area and will continue to make each a high priority in 2016.
Robocalls can be more annoying than a lingering head cold. Recently, some people got robocalls that seemed to be about health insurance and the Health Insurance Marketplace, but the calls were a con. The callers were phishing for personal information. People who work in the Marketplace don’t make cold calls, and they never ask for personal information. If you get a call like this, hang up.
We’re hearing from our colleagues that those pesky government imposters are at it again, using the FTC’s name to try to con people into paying them for something. Whether it’s to clean up your credit report, give you a prize, resolve a complaint against you, or pay off a debt you owe, they’re all lies. The message may be a call or an email, but it isn’t from the Federal Trade Commission, or any other federal agency.
There are plenty of good reasons to get your high school diploma as an adult. It can open doors to a new job or promotion, or help you get into college or the military. But before you start looking into your options, make sure you know how to spot a diploma scam.
The FTC has filed charges against two fake high school diploma operations: Capitol Network Distance Learning Programs (CNDLP) and Stepping Stonez Development.
The subject line says “Get Protected,” and the email talks about new features from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that can help taxpayers monitor their credit reports, and know about unauthorized use of their Social Security number. It even cites the IRS and the official-sounding “S.A.F.E Act 2015.”
It sounds real, but it’s all made-up. It’s a phishing email to get you to click on a scammer’s link.
Pop quiz: If someone calls you asking for your bank account number, should you give it to them?
Answer: Never. Hang up — it’s a scam.
We’ve heard about different kinds of imposter scams on the rise. In one scenario, scammers call, pretending to work for Medicare. They say they need to verify your bank account number — and it might sound convincing. In truth, it’s a trick to steal your money.