Look for these warning signs to avoid fraud:
- Someone you don't know asks you to send money or money orders to claim a prize, lottery, credit card, loan, or other valuable offer.
- Someone you don't know offers you the chance to receive a credit card, loan, prize, lottery, or other valuable item, but asks you for personal data to claim it.
- An unknown caller claiming to be a lawyer or in law enforcement offers to help you get your money back (for a fee).
- The deal is only good "for today" or a short period of time.
- The seller offers "free gifts" in return for a minimum effort or a fee.
- A "repair person" suddenly finds a dangerous defect in your car or home.
- You are given little or no time to read a contract.
- A sale item is suddenly unavailable but a "much better item" is available for slightly more money.
- Someone is trying to scare you into making a purchase.
- The solicitation looks like a government document and suggests contest winnings or unclaimed assets are yours for a small fee. (The government doesn't solicit money from citizens.)
- You are asked for your bank account or credit card number.
Quick Tips for Avoiding Fraud
There are many varieties of consumer fraud, but the most common ones are variations of fake check scams, credit repair, free trip offers, and sweepstakes. Here are some tips to help you avoid being a victim:
- Don't give out personal information. Be suspicious of anyone you don’t know who asks for your Social Security number, birthdate, credit card number, bank account number, password, or other personal data.
- Don't be intimidated. Be suspicious of calls or e-mails that want you to provide or verify personal information immediately. Tell them you're not interested and hang up or don't reply to the e-mail.
- Monitor your accounts. Review bank and credit card statements carefully. Report unauthorized transactions to your financial institution immediately.
- Use a shredder. Tear or shred credit offers you receive in the mail, bank statements, insurance forms and other papers with personal information.
Be on the lookout for these common scams:
- Fake Check Scams You discover the check is worthless after you've deposited it and wired money back to the crook.
- Sweetheart Swindles Criminals befriend you in online chat rooms or dating sites, then request money as a favor or for accident or travel expenses.
- Auctions Beware of fraudulent sellers and bogus merchandise.
- Lotteries Don't fall for foreign lotteries; they're illegal to play and may be a scam.
- Advance Fee Loans and Credit It's illegal for telemarketers to charge a fee in advance for help getting a loan.