Archive for the ‘FTC’ Category

Government imposter scams — FTC

 

You get a text, call, or email from someone who says they’re with the government. They may claim to be a U.S. Marshal, saying you must pay a fine for missing jury duty. Or the IRS, saying that you owe thousands in back taxes. Some might threaten legal action, deportation, or arrest if you don’t pay up or give them your financial information.

In other cases, it sounds less scary and more like your lucky day. The call, text, or email will say you’ve won a prize, the lottery, or a grant — but you need to pay some fees or taxes to get your winnings.

These are all scams. Scammers will try to make it seem legitimate. They might give you a badge number, or even know information like the last four digits of your Social Security number. A Washington, D.C. area code on your caller ID also might seem convincing. But caller ID can be faked.

If someone calls, texts, or emails saying they’re with the government and you must pay, stop.

  • Never send money — especially by gift card, cash reload card, or money transfer. No government agency will threaten you or demand payment this way.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information to anyone who calls, texts, or emails.
  • If you sent money to a government imposter, contact the company you used to send the money (gift card company, cash reload card company, or wire transfer service) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed if possible.
  • Report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.
How to spot scammers who pretend to be IRS officials to get you to send them money.
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FTC announces a crackdown on fraudulent charities

FTC and States Combat Fraudulent Charities That Falsely Claim to Help Veterans and Servicemembers

PRESS RELEASE
July 19, 2018

“Americans are grateful for the sacrifices made by those who serve in the U.S. armed forces,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “Sadly, some con artists prey on that gratitude, using lies and deception to line their own pockets. In the process, they harm not only well-meaning donors, but also the many legitimate charities that actually do great work on behalf of veterans and servicemembers.”

The FTC planned this ongoing effort with the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO). The initiative includes an education campaign, in English and Spanish, to help consumers recognize charitable solicitation fraud and identify legitimate charities….

Nationwide education campaign to help consumers donate wisely

The FTC and its state partners are launching an education campaign to help consumers avoid charity scams and donate wisely. The FTC has new educational materials, including a video (link is external) on how to research charities, and two new infographics. Donors and business owners can find information to help them donate wisely and make their donations count at FTC.gov/Charity. New and updated guidance includes:

For donors:

For businesses:

Read entire release from the Federal Trace Commission

CHARITY NAVIGATOR offers additional resources

Maine’s enforcement action. (page 15)

 

Avoiding tech support scams — Federal Trade Commission advice

Callers impersonate legitimate technical support companies to fool computer users into handing over their personal information or sending money.

 

PRESS RELEASE

You’re working on your computer when, suddenly, a message pops up on the screen: “Virus detected! Call now for a free security scan and to repair your device.” That’s a tech support scam. Don’t call, text, or email. Legit tech support companies don’t operate that way.

Scammers pose as big-name companies and use pop-up messages, fake websites, and phone calls to trick you into thinking your computer has an urgent problem. Their plan is to get your money by selling you worthless software, enrolling you in fake programs, or getting you to pay for useless tech support. The scammers urge you to call a toll-free number immediately, threatening that you may lose personal data if you don’t.

When you call, the scammer might ask you to give them remote access, pretend to run a diagnostic test, or tell you they’ve found a virus or other security issue. They try to sell you a security subscription or other “services” that range from worthless (for instance, they’re available for free elsewhere) to malicious (they install dangerous software that can help them steal your personal information.)

What should you do? If you get a pop-up to call a number to fix a virus on your computer, ignore it. Your computer is almost certainly fine. But if you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly — and don’t use the phone number in the pop-up or on caller ID. Use a number you know is real, like the one on a software package or your receipt. Tech support scammers like to place online ads pretending to be legitimate companies, so be sure you have the correct telephone number for the real tech company before calling.

And if someone asks you to pay for anything — including tech support services — with a gift card, cash reload card, or a wire transfer, that’s a scam. No legitimate company will tell you to pay that way. If you see that, report it at FTC.gov/complaint.

July is Military Consumer Month. Share this video with the military community to help them avoid tech support scams.

 

Protecting your devices from cryptojacking

Instead of min(d)ing their own business, are scammers using your computer as their virtual ATM? Three years ago, the FTC warned the public and took action against cryptojacking. That’s where scammers use your device’s processing power to “mine” cryptocurrency, which they can then convert into cold, hard cash.

Cryptojacking scams have continued to evolve, and they don’t even need you to install anything. Scammers can use malicious code embedded in a website or an ad to infect your device. Then they can help themselves to your device’s processor without you even knowing. You might make an unlucky visit to a website that uses cryptojacking code, click a link in a phishing email, or mistype a web address. Any of those could lead to cryptojacking. While the scammer cashes out, your device may slow down, burn through battery power, or crash.

So what can you do? Try the following:

  •  Follow tried-and-true advice for avoiding malware: use antivirus software, set software and apps to update automatically, never install software or apps you don’t trust, don’t click links without knowing where they lead, and be careful about visiting unfamiliar sites.
  •  Look for and close performance hogs: It can be hard to diagnose cryptojacking, but one common symptom is poor device performance. Consider closing sites or apps that slow your device or drain your battery.
  •  Consider playing defense: Some browser extensions and ad blockers say they help defend against cryptojacking, doing things like blocking mining code. These tools may be worth considering, but always do your homework first. Read reviews and check trusted sources before installing any online tools. Remember, too, that some websites may keep you from using their site if you have blocking software installed.

If you think cryptojacking has happened to you, the Federal Trade Commission wants to know. Report it to www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Tagged with: cryptocurrency, scam

Winners are losers in lottery & sweepstakes scams — FTC SCAM ALERT

You get a card, call, or email telling you that you won! Maybe it’s a lottery, sweepstakes, or some other prize. The person calling is excited and can’t wait for you to get your winnings.

But here’s what happens next: they tell you there’s a fee, some taxes, or customs duties to pay. They ask for your bank account information, or ask you to send money via a wire transfer or to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers.

Any way you send it, you lose money instead of winning it. You don’t get a big prize. Instead, you get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big. Scammers can be very convincing, and who wouldn’t want to win big!

Lottery and sweepstakes scams are one of the most common consumer frauds operating today. According to the FTC, these scams were the third-most common type of fraud reported to the agency in 2017.

Earlier this year, the FTC took action against an operation we alleged targeted older people with phony sweepstakes offers. The company sent mailers that made people think they had won $1 million (or more!), and that the recipient only needed to pay a small fee to claim it.

Help us help you and others by using the FTC’s top tips to avoid lottery and sweepstakes scams:

1. Keep your money – and your information – to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to or share gift card numbers with anyone who asks you to. Both payment methods are a sure sign of a scam.

2. Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of bogus offers or hang up when you get these calls. But you probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder.

3. If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Your report can help FTC investigators identify the scammers and stop them before they steal someone’s hard-earned money.

 

Timeshare resale scheme preyed on older adults — Federal Trade Commission SCAM ALERT

If you’re thinking about selling your timeshare through a resale company, research the company first. Read about this recent FTC case against Pro Timeshare Resales, and you’ll know why.

Timeshare Resales is a Florida-based company that called people – many of whom were older adults – and promised to sell their timeshare properties. The company often said it had a buyer in mind and that the sale would occur quickly. Once the timeshare owner agreed, the company would charge an up-front fee, usually of $500 to $2,500.

But, according to the FTC, the company did not sell the property quickly – or even at all. Often, it would ask for additional fees and refuse to grant refunds.

As result of its FTC settlement, Pro Timeshare Resales is now banned from timeshare resale services and telemarketing. It’s not allowed to make misrepresentations or collect any more payments for their timeshare services. Plus, it agreed to surrender more than $3 million.

How can you avoid timeshare resale scams? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Check out the reseller. Contact the State Attorney General and local consumer protection agencies in the state where the reseller is located. Ask if they have any complaints on file. You can also search online for complaints.
  • Ask about fees. It’s better to do business with a reseller that takes fees after the timeshare is sold. If you must pay a fee in advance, get refund policies in writing.
  • Get everything in writing. Read the contract carefully to make sure it matches promises you’ve been given verbally. It should include the services the reseller will perform, plus any fees you must pay and when. If the deal isn’t what you expected or wanted, don’t sign the contract.

For more information, check out Timeshares and Vacation Plans. And, if you’ve been a victim of a scam, report it to the FTC.

 

Google is not calling you — Federal Trade Commission SCAM ALERT

May 23, 2018

by

Rosario Méndez

Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

Have you gotten a robocall at work, telling you that you have to take action or your Google business listing will be removed? Or maybe even marked as permanently closed? That kind of thing could be tough for a business — if the threat was real. But those calls are not legit—and not from Google.

The FTC just filed a lawsuit against Point Break Media and others, saying they made just those kinds of calls. According to the complaint, people who believed the calls and then spoke to a live telemarketer were told that they could avoid the problem by paying a fee (up to $700). When people paid this fee, the scammers then allegedly targeted them with offers for even more expensive services that would supposedly improve Google search results.  Of course, nobody making those calls is affiliated with Google. And businesses can — for free — manage their own Google business listing.

In this case, the scammers targeted music instructors, house painting companies, car dealerships, and other small businesses. They knew that appearing in online searches is crucial for those businesses, and threatening that connection with customers might make people act before stopping to think.

If you get a call like this, don’t press any buttons. Don’t call the number back, and don’t engage. That just encourages the scammers. The best thing to do? Immediately hang up the phone, and then talk about it with your colleagues or employees. Let them know that:

  • Scammers pretend to be someone you trust. They pretend to be connected with a company you know or a government agency
  • Scammers create a sense of urgency. They want you to rush and make a quick decision without considering options.
  • Scammers use intimidation and fear. It’s okay to hang up the phone and confirm what’s really going on before taking any action.

Then, sign up for the FTC’s Business Blog (FTC.gov/Subscribe), which will keep you up to date on what’s happening at the FTC, and how it affects your business. Also, check out FTC.gov/SmallBusiness. Knowing about scams that target small businesses will help you protect yours.

Tagged with: business, imposter, phone, telemarketing

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