Don’t become a victim of COVID-19 scams or other types of common consumer fraud.
Consumer fraud occurs when a person suffers from a financial or personal loss. The fraud can involve the use of deceptive, unfair, misleading, or false business practices. Fraudsters typically target senior citizens and college students, but all consumers are at risk of fraud.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a government agency that protects consumers from financial fraud and scams by making sure banks and financial companies treat consumers fairly. Scammers are constantly finding new ways to steal your money. You can protect yourself by knowing what to look out for,” according to the CFPB.
Here are some of the most common frauds that victimize consumers and tips on how to protect yourself from becoming affected.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information—which can include your name, Social Security number, bank account number, and credit card information—often through data mining.
The goal of the thieves is to use your personal information to assume your identity to access your bank account and drain funds, open and use credit cards in your name, take out loans, use your health insurance to pay medical bills, and file a tax return to collect your refund.
You may be a victim of identity theft if one or more of the following occurs:
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, start by going to IdentityTheft.gov, a website administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The site provides directions on how to help you recover your identity and repair any damage you have experienced. In addition, the FTC urges you to:
The FBI deals with thousands of mortgage fraud cases each year. Today’s mortgage scams are often aimed at distressed homeowners, according to the FBI’s Financial Institution Fraud Unit. These scams include foreclosure rescue schemes, loan modification schemes, and equity skimming, among others. They are often carried out by real estate and mortgage professionals who misuse their specialized knowledge and authority.
The National Crime Prevention Council advises that you may be a victim of mortgage fraud if one or more of the following are true:
The FBI recommends that consumers protect themselves against mortgage fraud by doing the following:
Credit or debit card fraud can occur when someone steals or finds your card or manages to obtain the information from the card to purchase goods, withdraw cash, or otherwise use your card in a fraudulent manner. You should know that the Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability to $50, and oftentimes, there’s no cost at all depending on the bank or credit card issuer.
Although credit and debit card fraud is among the most common types of consumer fraud, any of the following signs should set off red flags for you:
Fight against credit and debit card fraud by doing the following:
A relatively new twist on credit card fraud, according to the FTC, comes in the form of robocalls that “guarantee to reduce your credit card interest rate” (for a fee). These types of offers are usually scams and no more effective at getting credit card companies to lower your interest rate than if you called the company yourself for free. In addition to paying a fee for no service, some of these fraudsters ask for personal information which they then use to commit identity theft.
According to the FTC, rate reduction robocall scams typically have one or more of the following in common:
Here are some ways to protect yourself from this type of scam:
Fake charities use the same techniques to steal your money that legitimate charities use to raise funds, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Before you donate, make sure you know where your money is going.
Several telltale warning signs suggest you are dealing with a fake charity:
FTC guidance on not falling victim to a fake charity includes doing the following:
Prize and lottery fraud comes under many names—sweepstakes, drawings, foreign lotteries, and more. This type of fraud often targets the elderly and originates with a phone call or postcard. The FTC receives tens of thousands of complaints about prize and lottery fraud each year. Because many victims don’t report being scammed, officials estimate the problem’s scope is far greater.
Fake lottery scams, many of which are foreign, exhibit well-known signs that something is wrong:
There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself:
Some scammers, posing as collection agencies, call consumers demanding payment of bogus outstanding debts. These are not legitimate debt collectors. If you have actual unpaid debt, subject to collection, you have rights there, as well. These rights are spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
When it comes to discerning between a legitimate debt collector and a scam, here are some signs to look for:
If you suspect you have been targeted by a debt collection fraudster, here’s a list of actions you can take:
The coronavirus pandemic—and the resulting quickly passed government legislation—has created opportunities for scammers to enter the scene and use both fear and financial need to take advantage of people.
Fortunately, the FTC has been tracking COVID-19 scams and scammers alike and provides a list of signs that an offer is actually fraud:
Don’t act hastily when it comes to the coronavirus but do take appropriate action if you feel you have been scammed:
Article Source: investopedia.com
Before you start risking your money, check the credibility of the desired website. Search for its URL in the our long list of Scam sites, or send us a request to check its validity, and do not register, buy or invest in it until you are sure of the validity and legality of that website or platform.