Federal Trade Commission warns residents to be on the lookout for 4 scams


United States Federal Trade Commission Seal - Federal Trade Commission

Kettering, Ohio – During October the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned residents to be on the lookout for 4 ongoing scams.

On October 8, 2021, issued a warning about a scam connected with the COVID-19 Pandemic. In this scam, scammers are posting internet and social media ads offering to assist individuals in getting a free device and internet service. There are two versions of the scam. In one, scammers ask for money, and in the other, they try to obtain your personal information.

The FTC says that there is a real government program called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that is intended to help households connect during the Pandemic. The program gives eligible participants a one-time discount to buy a computer or tablet and can even provide monthly discounts for internet service. But the FTC says this program is completely free to sign-up for.

The FTC warns that those impersonating government entities can look and sound real. They can even use agency names and seals/logos that are real or are very close to real. In case of the emergency broadband scam, the FTC says that scammers have used the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) name and seal to get individuals to hand over money and personal information.

To avoid the emergency broadband scam, the FTC says that Kettering consumers should:

1. Only apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program through the FCC and its listed providers. Don’t click on internet or social media ads to apply for the program. Instead, go directly to the program’s website at https://getemergencybroadband.org/. At this site, you can find out if you qualify for the program, and how to apply. The FTC also says that before accepting assistance from a company saying they can help you apply, you should make sure that the company is really part of the program. You can also do this at https://getemergencybroadband.org/. At the site, you can enter your zip code and the FCC will show the providers near you that are authorized to sign individuals up for the program.

2. Never pay to sign up to get benefits because the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is free for those who qualify.

3. Never give your financial or personal information to someone who calls, texts or emails and says they are with the FCC. The FTC and FCC say that even if you think the call is real, hang up and call the Emergency Broadband Support Center at 1-833-511-0311 to make sure.

On October 20, 2021, the FTC warned consumers about scammers impersonating Amazon. The FTC says that about 1/3 of all business impersonation scams are scammers pretending to be Amazon. In this scam, individuals are contacted to either confirm a recent purchase that they didn’t make or to be told that your Amazon account was hacked.

The scams play out in several different ways. In one version, the scammer offers to refund the cost of the unauthorized purchase. Then they contact you to say that they sent you too much money and ask you to send them back the difference. But in reality, they never send the victim a refund. Instead, once they have accessed your account, they move money from one account such as your savings account over to your checking account. This makes it look like they issued you a refund. But they never sent you any money, and when you send them what they say is the refund overpayment, you are sending them your money.

In another version of the scam, individuals are told that their account has been hacked. Then supposedly the only way to fix the problem is to purchase gift cards and share the gift card numbers and pins with the person who contacted you. Then the scammers spend the gift cards that you purchased.

The FTC says that Kettering residents can avoid the Amazon impersonation scam by:

1. Never call back an unknown number whether it is from a voicemail, text, or email. Instead, go to Amazon’s website, www.amazon.com, and use the contact information there to contact the company to check and see if there is really a problem.

2. Never pay for anything from someone asking you to pay with a gift card. Gift cards are for gifs. People who ask you to buy gift cards and then share the gift card numbers and pins with them are scammers. While merchants may advertise that you can use gift cards at their establishment, you should never pay for goods or services by buying gift cards and then sending the cards to an unknown person asking for them.

3. Don’t ever give remote access to your devices to someone who contacts you unexpectedly. The FTC says that giving remote access to your devices gives scammers easy access to your stored personal and financial data. Scammers can even use remote access to steal access to your bank account.

The third scam the FTC warned consumers about this month is the Google Voice Scam. On October 27, 2021, the FTC warned consumers to be on the lookout for people asking you to give them a google voice verification code. In this scam, scammers target people selling items online or even people looking for lost pets. When they see an ad for an item for sale or a lost pet, they contact the person saying they are interested in the item or have the lost pet. But they pretend to be concerned about scams themselves and want you to prove you are a real person. To prove you are a real person they ask you to set up a Google Voice phone number and provide a Google Voice verification code. Scammers then use this verification code in two ways. First, if they got enough information from you, they could pretend to be you to access your bank or credit card accounts. They might even use the information and Google Voice number to open new accounts in your name. But even if they don’t get enough information from you to access your accounts, they could still use this Google Voice number to hide their identity while scamming other unsuspecting consumers.

If you have been a victim of the Google Voice scam, Google offers a method for reclaiming the Google Voice number you set up and gave to the scammer. Go to https://support.google.com/voice/answer/159519?hl=en#zippy=%2Cyour-linked-number-was-claimed%2Cyour-google-voice-number-was-reclaimed
to find out how you can reclaim the scammed number.

The FTC also warned consumers of a 4th scam on October 27, 2021. In this scam, people receive emails that appear to have been sent by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The emails say that the recipient can receive a third Economic Impact Payment if they click a link to “access the form for your additional information” and “get help” with the application. The FTC says that the link is a trick. This is another version of the government impersonator scam where the scammer will steal your personal information and/or money. They may even use the information they steal from you to steal your identity.

To avoid the scam, the FTC says that Kettering residents should:

1. Know that the Government will never call, text, email, or contact you on social media saying you owe money, or to offer help getting a third Economic Impact Payment. If you get an email or text with a link claiming to be from a government agency, do not click on the link. Instead, visit the IRS or other government agency’s website directly, not through a link. Remember that scammers work hard to make their emails and texts look legitimate with real-sounding, but bogus, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.

2. Say no to someone contacting you claiming to be from a government agency looking for personal and/or financial information. Also say no to someone claiming to be from the government who is looking for payment in cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. The government will never ask for payments through these methods. In addition, you should never share your Social Security, Medicare, driver’s license, bank account, or credit numbers with someone who contacts you, even if they show up in person. You should always contact the government agency through either their website or published phone number to verify any request for information or payment that you were not expecting. In addition, the FTC says that government agencies will never charge a fee for applying for financial assistance.

If you have been a victim of any of these or similar scams, you can report the incident to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/. The FTC can’t resolve your complaint, but they use the information t share with over 3,000 law enforcement agencies, and to help protect other consumers from suffering the same fate. The FTC will also use your report information to help you figure out what you should do next.

Protect yourself – be on the lookout for these and other scams that are trying to seal your information and/or money. Remember that old saying, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And remember, never give information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly. Instead, even if you suspect the contact might be legitimate, don’t give the person any information, and reach out directly to the entity they are claiming to represent to verify the request. Always use published website addresses or phone numbers and never use links or numbers from messages that you were not expecting. And finally, if you are the victim of a scam, contact the FTC and/or the Kettering Police Department.

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