June 21, 2021, 10:07 AM
Instead of telling you a ghost story around a summer campfire, we have an all-too familiar tale to share: Myra’s grandson, Jon, is in Mexico for the summer. They video chat every week. One day, Myra gets a call from someone who says he’s Max,
a friend of Jon’s: “He was arrested last night and needs $500 for bail.” Max says the police took Jon’s passport, so he’ll need another $700 to get it back. He says not to tell Jon’s parents or anyone else because
Jon is embarrassed.
Myra is scared at first — but she’s heard a thing or two that makes her suspicious. So she thanks “Max” for his concern, hangs up, and calls Jon right away. Jon, it turns out, is on his way to class, not in jail. And “Max”
is nothing but a scammer.
Family emergency scams like this try to scare people into sending money to help a loved one in trouble. The fraud can play out in many ways, but the hustle
is the same: the caller lies, tries to scare you, and rushes you to pay so you don’t have time to think twice or check things out before you send money. And once you do that, you’ll never get it back.
To avoid family emergency scams:
- Resist the urge to act immediately — no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Call or message your loved one who (supposedly) contacted you. Even though the caller says not to. But use a number you know is right, not one the caller gives you.
- Never send cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or
money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!
If you spot this or any other scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.Source: Federal Trade Commission
March 02, 2021, 9:58 AM
This pandemic has brought lots of side effects. Lost jobs, lost income, and lost homes are themes we see around the country — and scammers know just how to take advantage of these worries. Another side effect of the pandemic is isolation, which scammers also like to use to their advantage. During National Consumer Protection Week, which starts today, I’m asking you to join me in fighting isolation to fight scams.
The FTC knows that people who talk about scams are much less likely to fall for them. So, when people of any age are on their own too much, they don’t have the chance to talk things out. And when scammers — who are calling, emailing, and texting — might be a person’s main source of contact, nothing good happens next.
So, today, pick up the phone. Call someone you haven’t talked with in a while. Maybe somebody who might be too much alone. See how they’re doing. And work into the conversation these ideas:
- Scammers have lots of fake stories: early or guaranteed access to vaccines (no such thing), you’ve won a prize (you haven’t), your computer needs tech support (it doesn’t), they’re an online love interest (not if they want money).
- Whatever their story, scammers want you to pay or share your personal information.
- Nobody legit will ever (EVER) tell you to pay by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency.
- No government agency will ever call/email/text to ask you for money, your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number.
After you’ve reached out and shared these ideas, invite your friend or relative to call you back: just to talk, or if something fishy comes up and they want a second opinion. And if someone paid a scammer, please tell them to report it: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
February 23, 2021, 4:40 PM
Tech support scammers want you to believe you have a serious problem with your computer, like a virus. They want you to pay for tech support services you don't need, to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. They often ask you to pay by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app because they know those types of payments can be hard to reverse.
Spotting and Avoiding Tech Support Scams
Tech support scammers use many different tactics to trick people. Spotting these tactics will help you avoid falling for the scam.
Tech support scammers may call and pretend to be a computer technician from a well-known company. They say they’ve found a problem with your computer. They often ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then pretend to run a diagnostic test. Then they try to make you pay to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Listen to an FTC undercover call with a tech support scammer.
If you get a phone call you didn’t expect from someone who says there’s a problem with your computer, hang up.
Tech support scammers may try to lure you with a pop-up window that appears on your computer screen. It might look like an error message from your operating system or antivirus software, and it might use logos from trusted companies or websites. The message in the window warns of a security issue on your computer and tells you to call a phone number to get help.
If you get this kind of pop-up window on your computer, don’t call the number. Real security warnings and messages will never ask you to call a phone number.
Online Ads and Listings in Search Results Pages
Tech support scammers try to get their websites to show up in online search results for tech support. Or they might run their own ads online. The scammers are hoping you’ll call the phone number to get help.
If you’re looking for tech support, go to a company you know and trust.
2 Things to Know to Avoid a Tech Support Scam
1. Legitimate tech companies won’t contact you by phone, email or text message to tell you there’s a problem with your computer.
2. Security pop-up warnings from real tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number.
What to Do If You Think There’s a Problem With Your Computer
If you think there may be a problem with your computer, update your computer’s security software and run a scan.
If you need help fixing a problem, go to someone you know and trust. Many software companies offer support online or by phone. Stores that sell computer equipment also offer technical support in person.
What to Do If You Were Scammed
If you paid a tech support scammer with a credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or bank right away. Tell them what happened and ask if they can reverse the charges.
If you paid a tech support scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money.
If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.
If you gave your user name and password to a tech support scammer, change your password right away. If you use the same password for other accounts or sites, change it there, too. Create a new password that is strong.
Avoid Tech Support Refund Scams
If someone calls to offer you a refund for tech support services you paid for, it’s likely a fake refund scam. How does the scam work? The caller will ask if you were happy with the services you got. If you say, “No,” they’ll offer you a refund. In another variation, the caller says the company is giving out refunds because it’s going out of business. No matter their story, they’re not giving refunds. They’re trying to steal more of your money. Don’t give them your bank account, credit card or other payment information.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
February 04, 2021, 1:50 PM
2020 was a tough year. Between the pandemic and the economic crisis, we all had our hands full. And scammers didn’t take any time off either — 2020 was a busy year for fraud. In 2020, the FTC got more than 2.2 million reports about fraud, with people telling us they lost nearly $3.3 billion.
Here’s what we heard from you in 2020:
- The top fraud of 2020 was imposter scams. Scammers showed up wearing many different hats — from that of a government official, to a known business, to a dear family member or friend. The FTC got nearly 500,000 reports of imposter scams, and people reported losing a lot of money to these scammers: $1.2 billion, with a median loss of $850. Government and business imposter scams were also among the top categories of COVID-19 and stimulus related reports, proving once again, that scammers follow the headlines.
- Online shopping and negative reviews was the second most reported fraud category of 2020. With the pandemic came an increase in online shopping, and then a wave of reports about sellers failing to deliver on promises — or just failing to deliver, period. The FTC got more than 350,000 reports, with people telling us lost a total of more than $245 million, with a median loss of about $100.
- The phone is still the top way that scammers are reaching us — both through phone calls and text messages. In fact, there was a sharp increase in the number of reports saying that scammers contacted them by text message. And, not surprisingly, many of these text messages were related to the pandemic. We heard about text message scams luring people to click on links with promises of stimulus relief, economic relief or loans for small businesses, or “waiting packages.”
We can only fight scammers with your help. When you report to the FTC, your report is instantly available to more than 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcers across the country who are looking to fight fraud. If you’ve spotted a scam, tell us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
January 26, 2021, 8:32 AM
The US Department of the Treasury and the IRS are working hard to get a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to people. You might have already gotten your payment direct deposited into your bank account. That started on December 29th. You might have gotten a check in the mail. But, like last time, some people will get their payment in the mail on an EIP VISA debit card. Don’t be surprised if the way you get this second round of payments is different than the first time. Whichever way you get your payment, it’s all money the government wants you to have, and quickly. So: if you qualify for an Economic Impact Payment, look at your bank account for a direct deposit, keep an eye out for a check in the mail, or watch your mailbox carefully this month for an EIP Visa debit card.
With checks, you know the drill: get the check, deposit the check. Since you might not have gotten money on a VISA debit card before, here’s a bit more info.
The debit cards are managed by Money Network Financial, LLC and issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A.
If you got an EIP VISA debit card in the mail, here’s what to do.
- Activate the EIP VISA debit card right away by calling 1-800-240-8100. To activate your card, you’ll have to give the last six digits of your Social Security number. Once the card is activated, you can use it anywhere that accepts VISA debit cards, including online or in a store, or at an ATM to get cash. You also can transfer the money from the card to your personal bank account without fees. Keep in mind that the EIP debit cards will expire after three years. If that happens, call customer service to request the funds be sent to you as a check.
- Got questions about the EIP card? Call the 24-hour call center at 1-800-240-8100. You can also visit EIPCard.com for information on using your EIP card, like where to log in to see your card balance, or where to find an in-network ATM to get money out of the card at no charge.
- Got more general EIP questions? The IRS also has an FAQs page in English, or in Spanish.
And one last thing. Like last time, scammers are at work trying to get your money and/or personal information. Remember that the government will never call, text, email, or ask you to click on a link to activate your EIP card or get your money. If anyone does, it’s a scam. Don’t give anyone your personal or financial information, like your Social Security or bank account numbers. And never pay anyone to get your EIP funds. Report any scam immediately to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
November 24, 2020, 12:34 PM
The holiday season is upon us and retailers are already preparing for what they hope will be a successful shopping season. Because of COVID-19, it’s likely that we’ll be going online to look for those perfect gifts. With so many deals around and what seem like eternal “Black Friday" sales, it’s important to keep some online shopping tips in mind.
So, if you plan to shop from the comfort of your home this year instead of heading out in person for those doorbuster deals, first, make sure your home computer has the latest antivirus software updated. This will help protect you from hackers and identity thieves. Read more computer safety tips here.
Once you’re ready to shop, make sure you:
- Take time to compare products. To get the best deal, compare products. Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.
- Check out the seller. Confirm that the seller is legit. Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.
- Look for coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”
- Pay by credit card. Paying by credit card gives you added protections. Never mail cash or wire money to online sellers. If the seller asks you to pay this way, it could be a scam.
- Use secure checkout. Before you enter your credit card information online, check that the website address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see the “s,” don’t enter your information.
- Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods, confirm you got what you ordered, and that you’re satisfied you won’t have to return the item.
Check out more ways to ensure hassle-free online shopping here. And if you spot a fraud while shopping online this holiday season, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Source: Federal Trade Commission