The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has designated this week as National Consumer Protection Week, and has issued a report on the top frauds reported during 2017. Highlights from the report are as follows:
- Once again, this year's top consumer fraud is imposter scams, with nearly 350,000 consumer reports. Almost 1 in 5 people who reported an imposter scam lost money – to someone pretending to be a loved one in trouble, a government official, tech support, or someone else who's not who they say they are, but wants money.
- Consumers reported that scammers mostly contacted them by phone, and consumers mostly paid for frauds by wire/funds transfer.
- Fourteen percent of consumers reported identity theft and related credit card fraud – losses totaled over $905 million.
- More younger people reported losing money to fraud than older people – but when people aged 70 and older had a loss, it was a much higher median loss than other groups.
- Government agencies (e.g., the IRS) and officials will never demand/ask for payments over the telephone.
- Never disclose your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers to a caller you don't know — even if they are just asking you to "confirm" this information.
- Ask to receive, and carefully review, all information in writing before you agree to make any purchase or initiate a funds transfer.
- Never send funds by wire transfer without first confirming the recipient is legitimate, and reviewing the transaction terms in writing.
- Never provide credit card information without confirming the recipient's bona fides. Do a quick web check for alerts on potential scams regarding the entity/individual at issue before authorizing any payment.
- Always carefully review your monthly credit card statement. In the event of an unauthorized or fraudulent charge, notify the card company in writing to dispute the charge within 60 days after the first statement including the error was received. The card company has 30 days to respond and must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receipt of your written notice. Federal law caps your loss at $50.
- Remind older family members to be vigilant about phone call solicitations and tell them that the first two actions they should take if they have concerns about a solicitation are (1) quickly end the call and (2) immediately call you to discuss before initiating any payment.
For more information about the National Consumer Protection Week, visit the FTC website.
Check out our series, Privacy Perils, to learn what steps you can take to guard your personal and company data.