February 23, 2018
by Ari Lazarus
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
We’ve recently heard that scammers are recycling an old phishing attempt. In this version, scammers, posing as a well-known tech company, email a phony invoice showing that you’ve recently bought music or apps from them. The email tells you to click on a link if you did not authorize the purchase. Stop – do not click on the link. That’s the new twist on an old scam.
More precisely, you just experienced a phishing attempt – that is, when a scammer uses fraudulent emails or texts, or copycat websites to get you to share valuable personal information. The scammers then use that information to commit fraud or identity theft.
Scammers also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network – then they install programs like ransomware that can lock you out of important files on your computer.
Here are some tips to help keep your information secure:
•Be suspicious if a business, government agency, or organization asks you to click on a link that then asks for your username or password or other personal data. Instead, type in the web address for the organization or call them. The link in the email may look right, but if you click it you may go to a copycat website run by a scammer.
•Be cautious about opening attachments. A scammer could even pretend to be a friend or family member, sending messages with malware from a spoofed account.
•Set your security software to update automatically, and back up your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up your files regularly and use security software you trust to protect your data.
Lastly, report phishing emails and texts by forwarding them to email@example.com and filing a report with the FTC.
February 15, 2018
by Andrew Johnson
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
If someone claiming to be with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) contacts you and asks you to send money, it’s a scam. Do not pay. Report it. Spread the word to your family and friends.
We’ve received reports that imposters are calling, emailing, even texting or faxing, and pretending to be with the FTC, in an attempt to gain your trust and to steal your hard-earned money. They’re contacting people about fake prize winnings, grants, or refunds, or saying you’re in trouble and need to pay delinquent accounts or fees. Their goal is to either excite or scare you into sending money. The truth is, the FTC does not call, email, text, or fax consumers to ask for payment. Those are scams. In fact, the Department of Justice just announced that two scammers who impersonated the FTC (and the SEC) were found guilty of scamming people out of $10 million.
The FTC does distribute money to people after suing entities for unlawful practices. In fact, according to our 2017 Annual Report, 6.28 million people received checks from the FTC between July 2016 and June 2017.
However, the FTC will NEVER ask you to send money or provide bank account information to get your money back. If you are entitled to a refund from a FTC lawsuit, you will usually receive a check or claim form with details about the case. The case will be listed in our chart of recent cases resulting in refunds. You can call the number associated with the case on our website if you have any questions.
Imposters won’t stop at just using the FTC’s name. They’ll use the names of any people or organizations you trust. Dealing with imposters in real time can be difficult. But it’s important to take note of not just the story that they tell, but also how they ask you to pay. If they ask you to pay by wiring them money, getting iTunes cards, or putting money on a MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit card, it’s a scam.