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Protecting Yourself from Consumer Fraud

From January to the end of September 2021, Americans filed over two million fraud reports involving scams by email, mail, telephone, or text. Knowing how consumers can help protect themselves against deceptive marketing practices by fraudulent individuals and fictitious businesses takes precautionary observation and action. Consumer fraud affects millions of people yearly and continues to rise in the United States and other countries. After considering this fact, all consumers should educate themselves to prevent being victims of false advertisements and cold calling. Learn the different types of scams and valuable tips for protecting yourself from fake entities and impersonators.

Consumer Scam Types

Today, scammers use manipulative tactics to deceive consumers and take their money and sometimes life savings. In some cases, victims may need to seek legal advice and representation to help them recoup the damages from monetary losses. From the advance fee to employment fraud, scammers have ways of reaching people, whether by email, phone, or mail, with the intent to defraud. When a fraudulent company contacts a consumer, be aware of the schemes used in each fraud scam.

Advance Fee Scam

One of the most common scams in the US is the advance fee fraud, claiming to eliminate debt with an upfront fee. Do not fall for the advance fee or debt elimination scam promising to repay any debts. The Office of Comptroller of the Currency refers to the advance fee scam as Nigerian fraud, which includes advance fee and identity-thief scams. Scammers may pose as a government official or an IRS representative to deceive American consumers into believing they owe back taxes. Beware of scamming phone calls and emails propositioning consumers to help them transfer millions of dollars in exchange for a small percentage.

Cashier’s Check Scam

Detecting a fraudulent cashier check can be difficult for consumers before they deposit it into their checking account. It can take three to five days before a banking institution determines the cashier’s check is a fake. Scammers use cashier checks to purchase a service or a product, knowing it is invalid. If a victim withdraws money from the checking account at the time of the deposit and bounces later, there will be a loss.

High-Yield Investment Scam

High-yield investment scams are fraud types committed by unqualified and unlicensed scammers pretending to be brokers and investment advisors. They target consumers from age 20 to 49 and make false promises of high returns on investments and low to no risk. It is less likely that victims who invest money in a financial instrument with an investment scammer will ever recoup their money back.

Employment Scam

It may be unbelieving for some consumers to think that there are scammers defrauding people to work from home. They use a quick hiring process, luring innocent people seeking employment by sending a fraudulent check that will eventually bounce after a few days of the deposit. The scam involves the victim depositing the check and purchasing a computer, for example. Consumers can detect employment scams by unclear job descriptions or work-at-home opportunities. Scammers use job websites, email, radio, and TV to solicit fake job positions and deceptively take money or personal information.

Online Shopping Scam

Shopping online is the latest trend for modern shoppers but has its risk with false advertisements of deals using social media and website contact. Scammers target consumers who are young to age 50 and older for fantastic deals on products or services. Any time a consumer receives a business email with a Gmail or Yahoo address, be cautioned that the promotion is most likely online shopping fraud.

Valuable Tips for Consumer Fraud Protection

First, if a consumer becomes a victim of consumer fraud, immediately report monetary losses to the local police department. Next, a victim should report any of the fraud types listed above to the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection for them to investigate. If a consumer sends money using a cash app or other digital payment methods, report it to the payment company. To protect consumers, the FTC has rules ensuring a fair marketplace and will sue companies and imposters for defrauding the general public.

Protecting yourself from consumer fraud starts with due diligence, investigating and researching job offers, websites, shopping deals, and investment opportunities. Taxpayers who owe the IRS will never receive a phone call from a representative demanding payment. Simple things like this are a red flag to warn consumers when calls and emails are scams. Contacting an attorney specializing in consumer fraud law can benefit victims with huge losses due to unethical marketing practices.

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