This holiday season, help friends and family avoid a scam

By Bridget Small, Division of Consumer & Business Education

When you talk with friends and family over the holidays, you may hear about new puppies, old sports rivalries, and dreams of the next vacation. As you join the conversation, why not share some ideas to protect the people you care about from scams? Read these tips from the FTC’s Pass it On campaign for ideas, and then tell people where to find them.

If your uncle mentions the unwanted calls he’s getting from “Social Security,” explain that the calls are from scammers posing as government officials. He can’t rely on caller ID, because scammers use technology to fake the numbers they’re calling from. Remind him to hang up when he gets an unwanted call, and let him know there are options for blocking calls, whether he uses a mobile phone, landline and or gets phone service over the internet.

While you’re trading ideas with the cousins about websites for shopping, socializing, and take-out meals, remind them to protect their identity on those new accounts. That means using strong passwords and limiting the information they share. They can also monitor their credit with a free credit report each week from the three national credit-reporting agencies at Weekly reports are free until April 2021.

If your just-retired friend starts chatting about the great work-at-home opportunity she found online, ask if she has to pay up front for the opportunity. Ads that offer to help you start an online business — after you buy a training system — are often scams. People who buy the “systems” often get pressure to pay more for extra services, but don’t get anything that really helps them start a business or make money.

Thank you for helping the FTC share information and help people spot and avoid scams. You can subscribe to our blog to learn about the latest scams. And if you or someone you know sees a fraud, scam, or bad business practice, please report it to the FTC at Happy holidays.