Whether you’re getting ready to deal with Laura or Marco, the storms about to hit the Gulf Coast, dealing with the ravages of wildfires out West, reeling from the derecho that struck the Midwest, or facing another natural disaster, handling the aftermath is never easy. But when scammers target people just trying to recover, it can be even worse. Here are some tips to help you avoid common post-disaster scams.
During these difficult economic times, it is easy to imagine our financial problems disappearing by winning a big prize. Who wouldn’t like to win a million dollars, a new car, or a vacation home? But if you get a call from someone saying, “You’ve won,” don’t believe the hype.
Scammers make up all kinds of stories to get your money, from telling you that you’ve won a prize, you owe a debt, or your family member is in an emergency. But some things stay the same: scammers want your money, they want it fast, and don’t want you to be able to get it back. They’ll ask you to pay in ways that make it hard to track them down — and once you know what these are, you’ll have one more clue to tell if you’re dealing with a scammer.
Every year, thousands of servicemembers report to us about their consumer experiences. Those reports are the focus of the FTC’s Data Spotlight, Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops. From an analysis of the data, we can see that servicemembers often face consumer challenges that differ from those faced by their civilian counterparts – especially when it comes to identity theft. For instance, active duty servicemembers are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused one of their existing accounts, such as a bank account or credit card. Most notably, they are nearly three times as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money directly from their bank account. The Spotlight goes on to discuss other associated issues that servicemembers face, including identity theft-related debt collection and problems with credit bureaus.
Bureau blogs on Social Security scams
The CFPB has posted a blog article, "Five ways to recognize a Social Security scam." These scams are the most commonly reported type of fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration is warning the public about scammers making phone calls and following up with emails with falsified documents in attempts to get people to pay for fictitious government claims or fees to reinstate or increase benefits. The Bureau lists five symptoms of scams that can help protect people from becoming victims:
- Threats of arrest or legal action
- Emails or texts with personally identifiable information
- Misspellings and grammar mistakes
- Requests for payment by gift or pre-paid card, cash, or wire transfer
- Offers to increase benefits in exchange for payment
Anyone who believes they have been victimized by a Social Security scam should report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint and to the SSA Office of Inspector General Fraud at oig.ssa.gov.
New Federal Trade Commission data from the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network show that consumers reported losing $201 million to romance scams in 2019—up nearly 40% since 2018.
Using mobile payment apps like CashApp, Venmo, or Zelle can be a convenient way to get quick cash to your family and friends. But remember the first rule of sending money, whether you’re using an app or money wiring service: Be sure you know who’s on the receiving end. Otherwise, you might lose the money you sent — and then some.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued an alert warning consumers of fake jobs and hiring scams targeting applicants’ personally identifiable information (PII). Cyber criminals posing as legitimate employers spoof company websites and post fake job openings to lure victims. Cyber criminals will conduct fake interviews and even offer positions to victims before requesting PII such as Social Security numbers and bank account information
Keep your holiday shopping merry and bright with an early gift from the Federal Trade Commission: tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely, and protect your personal information.
Winter is coming, which means open enrollment season is here. With 2020 just around the corner, now’s the time to add or change your health coverage through Medicare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). You have until December 7 (Medicare) or December 15 (ACA) to make any changes. As you compare your options, watch out for scams. Here are some tips to protect your wallet and your personal information this open enrollment season.
If you’ve seen the news, ‘romance scammers’ are among the eighty defendants indicted today by the Department of Justice in a scheme that stole millions from Americans.
You've heard about the new law that makes credit freezes free and fraud alerts last one year. If you have questions, here are some of the answers: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/10/new-credit-law-faqs?utm_source=govdelivery
If you own a small business, you know it's critical to protect your business from cyber threats. The FTC has launched a cybersecurity resources for small businesses. https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/small-businesses/cybersecurity/basics.
A teen's first job provides a great opportunity to shape positive financial habits. Many teens think about how they can earn money so they can spend it, but it’s important to learn how to manage it as well. The best place to start is with a bank account. Once you land that new job, you should establish a bank account to keep track of your new earnings and keep it safe....
Not another robocall! We’ve all felt that way. Wondering what to do about robocalls? The FTC worked with AARP to create a series of videos about imposter scams – including robocalls, IRS imposters and Medicare scams. While the videos are aimed at older Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the tips apply to everyone. For three Fridays, we’ve highlighted these videos: first Medicare scams, then IRS imposters, and now robocalls...
Earlier this month, we told you about a growing scam: people pretend to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and try to get your Social Security number or your money. That scam is now growing exponentially. To compare: in 2017, we heard from 3,200 people about SSA imposter scams, and those people reported losing nearly $210,000. So far THIS year: more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, and they tell us they’ve lost $10 million...
The New Year holiday creates a feeling of starting fresh and encourages us to set new goals. While diets come to mind, setting new financial goals should be on the top of our lists. As you reflect on the past year, focus on your experiences – build on what worked and what didn’t – to shape this year’s money habits. Here are some ideas to consider as you set your financial goals for the New Year...