There are over 10 million people that are victims of scams every year. Scam artists defraud people across the globe by using phone, email, postal mail and the Internet to trick you into sending money or revealing personal information. While con artists can be clever, many can be stopped by knowledgeable consumers. Here are 10 steps from the Federal Trade Commission that you can take to stop a scam.
1. Wiring money is like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to someone who claims to be a relative in an emergency (and wants to keep the request a secret).
2. Do not send money to someone you don’t know, including online merchants you’ve never heard of, or an online love interest who asks for money or favors. Do business with sites you know and trust. Don’t send cash, and don’t use a wire transfer service.
3. Do not respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial information, whether they arrive by email, phone, text message or an ad, no matter how professional they seem. For example, Associated Bank will never ask for your account or personal information by email.
4. Do not play a foreign lottery. First, it’s illegal to play them. Second, you’ll be asked to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you send money, you won’t get it back, regardless of promises.
5. Do not agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know, then wire money back, no matter how convincing the story. If you deposit a check that turns out to be fake, you are responsible to pay back the bank.
6. Read your bills and monthly statements regularly, on paper and online. Scammers steal account information, then run up charges or commit crimes in your name.
7. After a natural disaster or other crisis, donate to established charities rather than one that seems to have sprung up overnight. Visitwww.ftc.gov/charityfraud to learn more.
8. Talk to your doctor before buying health products or receiving medical treatments. Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies; otherwise you could receive products that are fake, expired, mislabeled and possibly dangerous. Visit www.ftc.gov/health
9. Remember there’s no such thing as a sure thing.
When you hear pitches that insist you act now, promise big profits and little or no financial risk, or demand that you send cash immediately, report them to Associated Bank or the FTC.
10. Know where an offer comes from and who you’re dealing with, including their physical address and phone number. Do an Internet search for the company name and website and any negative reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org
Bonus Tip: Visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov to learn how to avoid internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them.
To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visitftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
Watch a video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more.
The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network http://www.ftc.gov/sentinel/, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(Source: Federal Trade Commission)