U.S. Attorney Dena King announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office would join an array of government, nonprofit and private organizations to raise public awareness about widespread and emerging scams during National Consumer Protection Week.
“National Consumer Protection Week is an opportunity to join forces with public and private agencies in amplifying the message against sinister scams and educating the public on how to identify scams and avoid falling prey to scammers,” King said. “The best way to protect yourself is to learn how to spot a scam and what to do if you are contacted by a scammer. We also encourage everyone to report suspected fraudulent schemes to help us track emerging scams and warn others.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021 North Carolinians submitted more than 64,000 fraud reports totaling $93 million in losses, compared to $74 million in 2020. The top fraud categories reported involved impostor scams, online shopping, sweepstakes and lotteries, and internet services, among others.
Spotting the four signs of a scam can stop consumers from falling victims to one.
The four signs of a scam are:
1. Fraudsters pretend to be affiliated with a widely known organization, like a government entity, a law enforcement agency, a utility company or a charity.
2. Scammers claim there is an imminent problem that requires immediate attention. For example, they claim you or a loved one are in legal or financial trouble, your computer has a virus or your bank account has been locked.
3. You are pressured to act immediately, including to pay a fine or settle a debt to avoid arrest, pay for computer tech repairs to restore your data, log into your account using a provided link, or pay a fee in order to receive lottery winnings.
4. Scammers direct you to pay using a specific payment method, such as a gift card, a pre-paid debit card, a wire transfer or an instant money transfer.
To avoid getting scammed consumers are encouraged to:
1. Ignore unknown callers and block unwanted numbers and text messages.
2. Do not open or respond to suspicious emails or click on suspicious links.
3. Do not give personal or financial information such as name, date of birth, Social Security number, bank account or credit card number.
4. Do not succumb to pressure tactics urging you to act immediately. Take your time to verify the source’s legitimacy and do your own research.
5. Do not pay using an unusual payment method such as wire transfers, instant money transfers, internet currency, or gift cards, and do not use your bank account to cash a check mailed to you.
6. If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer talk to a trusted family member, a friend, or neighbor.
It is equally important that consumers do their part to help identify existing or emerging scams and help warn others. If you are the victim of a scam or think you have been contacted by a scammer, report the fraud to your local law enforcement, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.