Selling your used stuff online has become commonplace. So have scams taking advantage of the good names of reputable online companies. At the FTC, we’ve heard from people stung by scammers spoofing PayPal. The scam generally goes like this: You post a high-value item, like a used car, for sale online. In no time at all, you get an email from a buyer willing to pay full price — or more! But he sets conditions; he is only willing to pay by PayPal or insists the sale must happen right away. What’s really going on? A ruse to steal your personal information, money or merchandise.
Here are some suspicious situations to look for and steps to safe selling online.
“Your computer is damaged ... we’ll help you fix it.” It’s the latest twist on tech support scams: Scammers sell software online that claims to increase your computer’s performance. They lure you to their websites with pop-up ads or web searches. Then, they tell you to call a phone number to activate or register the software. On the phone, they ask for remote access to your computer and then tell you that your computer has many errors that need to be fixed immediately.
When you want free consumer information — for yourself or a group — the FTC is ready to take your order. Looking for identity theft brochures to share with your book club? We’ve got them. Online safety handouts to use in the classroom? Right here. Bookmarks about charity fraud to distribute at a community fair? Absolutely. Our new and better bulkorder site is your gateway to almost 200 free publications for consumers and businesses.
What defines “community”? Is it where you live? Your racial or ethnic identity? Your age? Your income? Whether you’ve served in the military? The concept of community can be very personal.
Regardless of how you define your community, the FTC cares about stopping scams you deal with, and preventing others from taking root. The FTC is hosting a workshop on October 29, 2014, called “Fraud Affects Every Community.”
News reports of large-scale data breaches — like this week’s announcement from Home Depot — have prompted some of our readers to ask about a credit freeze. Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
You got a robocall from someone working with the FTC with a message that promised to help you get a refund from the agency. If you ever lost money to a scam, it might have been a tough call to ignore. Turns out ignoring the call would have been the right call because — you guessed it: it was a scam.
The FTC recently attended DEF CON 22, and challenged the tech-savvy to help us zap “Rachel from Cardholder Services” and her robocall buddies. How? The agency hosted a contest to see who could develop a cutting-edge robocall honeypot — an information system designed to attract robocallers, and help researchers and investigators understand and minimize illegal calls. Today, the FTC announced the winners, who will receive a combined total of $12,000 in prizes.
You get an email from your boss’s boss requesting that you make a wire transfer to a new vendor. The email is marked urgent, so you ignore the 20 others that need your attention to take care of it. You handle wire transfers all the time, and you’ll definitely score points for responding so quickly, right? Maybe not.
In a recent scheme, sometimes called “masquerading,” a hacker poses as a senior executive and asks an employee to complete a financial transaction, like a confidential business investment or a payment to a vendor. Once money is wired to a bogus account, it can be nearly impossible to recover.