Millions of people are affected by identity theft each year. It might start with a mysterious credit card charge, a bill you don’t recognize, or a letter from the IRS that says you already got your refund — even though you didn’t.
If someone uses your information to make purchases, open new accounts, or get a tax refund, that’s identity theft. Recovering from identity theft often takes time and persistence. That’s why today’s announcement from the FTC is a big deal: New features at IdentityTheft.gov make it easier to report and recover from identity theft.
Does your internet browser ever display ads that just seem wrong — for example, an inappropriate ad on a kid’s website, an ad that blocks content on the page, or an ad on a government site? It might look something like this:
Attorney, FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Education
Have you already decked your halls in lights, timed to blink to the strains of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Even if you haven’t reached that level of early enthusiasm, the holiday spirit is starting to spread already. If you spend any time on social media, you may have seen posts about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange.
SSGE encourages you to mail a gift worth $10 dollars to a stranger at the top of the list. Supposedly, in return, you’ll get a pile of presents from other participants. SSGE and come-ons like it encourage you to hop on board an enticing cash- or gift-giving experience. Sounds like a good time, right? Sorry, Blitzen, stop that sleigh!
Did you ever get an email that seemed legit, but it asked you to click a link or give up some personal information? Well, if you play massive multiplayer online games, be warned: phishers are looking for ways to get those emails into your inbox.
Senior Attorney, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC
Are you a nanny or caregiver who lists your services on sites like care.com, sittercity.com, or craigslist.com? A few months ago, we warned about a scam that targets caregivers like you. Here’s a reminder: a con artist emails or texts an offer to hire you. The scammer also sends you a check and asks you to depofakesit it, keep some money for your services, and send the rest to someone else to — supposedly — pay for special items or medical equipment. But the check is fake, and it can take weeks for a bank to discover the forgery. If you deposit the check and withdraw the funds, you’ll wind up owing the bank all that money.
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
The scam is called card cracking and it may start off innocently enough. You see a post on a social media site announcing a contest. Or maybe a webpage that claims to have a celebrity affiliation is offering a gift card giveaway.
The variations are endless, but here’s the tip-off that fraud is afoot. At some point, you’re asked for your bank account information, PIN number, or online banking credential. That’s when you can bank on the fact that those “innocent” offers aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.
Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices, FTC
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the extradition of six Nigerian nationals from South Africa to Mississippi to face a nine-count federal indictment for various Internet frauds. These six people join 15 others who were previously charged with, among other things, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.
What were the scams? According to the indictment, the defendants found and reached out to their potential victims through online dating websites and work-at-home opportunities.
Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.
Office of Technology Research and Investigation, FTC
Let me set the scene: your friend John is rushing to get his daughter from school and his son to the soccer field, and he still needs to stop at the grocery store because there’s nothing in the fridge. In the midst of this everyday madness, he gets a text message from Google with a verification code. He thinks, “That’s weird. Maybe I should log in to my email and see what’s going on.”
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Earn rewards for supporting a project you believe in? That’s what “crowdfunding” is all about.
Here’s how it works: “Creators” think of projects. To pay for those projects, they ask for small amounts of money from lots of people, usually through online platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Often, creators offer rewards to contributors. So far, so good … as long as the creators keep their end of the bargain.