If you get a call asking you to give to a charity, you might be tempted to say yes without a second thought. But as with any call you get from someone asking for money out of the blue, pause and do some research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.
Unfortunately, there are for-profit companies — like American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc. (AHDW) — that pretend to be charitable organizations and lie about how they use donations. The FTC sued AHDW for deceiving people. Here’s the story.
An email from a friend urges you to try new weight-loss pills. There’s a link to an article about a celebrity’s amazing results with the pills, and the article’s author says he even tried this miracle product himself.
With all these trusted sources, why wouldn’t you give it a try?
You may have seen TV ads that claim buying gold is an easy way to earn easy profits, or build a safe retirement investment. While buying gold might help diversify your investment portfolio, is it always a good way to build your retirement? Or might it be an investment scheme disguised as a golden opportunity?
Counsel, FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Education
Book lovers flock to their local library to pick up a favorite classic or the latest bestseller. But today library visitors also want and need a whole lot more. In addition to providing traditional services, librarians help diverse groups of people navigate a complicated world, including how to avoid scams.
As for scams, there’s one thing we know for sure: we’re all consumers – and we’re all targets for fraud. Scammers are good at what they do. They’re professionals who know how to create confusion and prey on emotions to throw people off-balance just long enough to take advantage. Our job is to give people a heads-up so that maybe they don’t get knocked off balance and they don’t get ripped off.
One thing we know about scammers — they want money, and they want it fast. That’s why, whatever the con they’re running, they usually ask people to pay a certain way. They want to make it easy for themselves to get the money — and nearly impossible for you to get it back.
Their latest method? iTunes gift cards. To convince you to pay, they might pretend to be with the IRS and say you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay back taxes right now. Or pose as a family member or online love interest who needs your help fast. But as soon as you put money on a card and share the code with them, the money’s gone for good.
Your phone rings. You recognize the number, but when you pick up, it’s someone else. What’s the deal?
Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they are someone local, someone you trust – like a government agency or police department, or a company you do business with – like your bank or cable provider. The practice is called caller ID spoofing, and scammers don’t care whose phone number they use. One scammer recently used the phone number of an FTC employee. Here are a few tips for handling these calls.
Looking for a good time and good eats at a good price? Getting a deal on a food festival or other event is terrific. But don’t let scammers leave a bad taste in your mouth by taking a big bite out of your money — and giving you nothing in return.
Scammers are trying to get personal information from people by pretending to help with applications for disability benefits and claims. A recent alert from the Social Security Inspector General warns of this phishing scam, and — whether or not you’ve started an application for benefits — these scammers could contact you. They’re taking a shot in the dark, hoping that you have started an application, and hoping you’ll give them a little more info over the phone. To “complete the process,” they might ask you to give, or confirm, your Social Security number or bank account numbers.
If scammers get your information, you could face identity theft and benefit theft. So here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.
Assistant Director, Division of Financial Practices, FTC
At the FTC, we sue abusive debt collectors and try to do right by people who’ve been harmed by unlawful practices. But we also try to protect people from being harmed in the first place. That’s exactly why I’m here: to warn you about debt collectors calling about debts that the FTC knows are bogus.