Fraud schemes victimize millions of Americans each year, leaving many financially devastated. The United States Postal Inspection Service provides a fraud education and prevention Web site called Delivering Trust. The site is filled with a variety of fraud prevention tips to help consumers recognize potential fraud.
Combat Scams and Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission provides a website called Money Matters that they hope will help the public avoid scams and prevent a potential loss. The site is filled with tips and warning signs to help educate consumers about various scams that are being used.
Combat Check Scams
Millions of consumers are lured into accepting genuine-looking checks and money orders, and wiring money to crooks in return. The American Banker’s Association (ABA) is part of a Consumer Federation of America task force that launched a campaign on May 27, 2009 to combat fake check scams. The campaign includes a website called FakeChecks. It describes the most common fake check scams and provides interviews with victims. A December 2008 Opinion Research Corporation survey showed that nearly one-third of all adult Americans have been approached with fake check scams, and about 4.5 million have fallen for them. The most common scams involve sweepstakes/lotteries, grants and work-at-home opportunities.
FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
The IC3 participates in multiple initiatives targeting an array of cyber crime schemes that victimize individuals and businesses domestically and abroad. These initiatives are a coordination of industry resources along with the investigative resources provided by cyber crime task forces comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The success of these initiatives is directly attributable to the inclusion of the industry resources. Initiatives focus on the following: Charitable Contributions Fraud, Counterfeit Check Fraud, Identity Theft Task Force, International Fraud, Investment Fraud, Online Pharmaceutical Fraud, Phishing, Work-at-home Scams.
- Never agree to pay to claim a prize. No legitimate sweepstakes or lottery would ever send you a check or money order and ask you to send payment in return. If you really won, you would pay taxes directly to the government.
- Never agree to pay for grants from the government or foundations. They don’t offer money to people unexpectedly or charge to get it. Most grants go to organizations, not individuals, and require a lengthy and extensive application process.
- Never agree to cash checks and send the money somewhere as part of a job working from home. That is not how legitimate employers operate.
- Never agree to wire money to anyone you have not met in person and have not known for a long time.
- If it seems suspicious, get advice. Consult your state or local consumer protection agency, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspection Service, or another trusted source.
- Remember that there is no legitimate reason why anyone who wants to give you a check or money order for something would ever ask you to send money anywhere in return.