Scam Alert

10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

Scam artists around the world defraud millions of people each year. They use the phone, postal mail, and the internet to trick people into sending money or giving out personal information. Read more.

5 Steps to Protecting Seniors From Financial Exploitation (IN)

Unfortunately, many seniors are exploited by con artists, family members or caregivers every year. Some do not report financial exploitation because they are embarrassed about the event. Failure to report only allows the violator to continue victimizing others. Learn more about how you can prevent these crimes and protect yourself or your family

Advance-Fee Loans

Ads and websites that guarantee loans or credit cards regardless of your credit history may be tempting, but remember: Legitimate lenders never "guarantee" or say you're likely to get a loan or a credit card before you apply, especially if you have bad credit, no credit history, or a bankruptcy. Read more

Automatic Debit Scams (WI)

Automatic debiting of your checking account can be a legitimate payment method; many people pay mortgages or make car payments this way. But fraudulent telemarketers are abusing the system. Read more.

Avoid Foreclosure Rescue Scams (Video)

If you're facing foreclosure, scammers may try to take advantage of you and falsely promise to save your home. Listen to the stories of homeowners who were deceived by foreclosure rescue scams.

Avoid ID Theft and Fraud in the New Health Insurance Marketplace

If you’re signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Health Care program, watch out for con artists who may ask for your money, your personal information, or both. Consumer Federation of America’s tips help you learn how to avoid scams.

Avoiding Mortgage Modification Scams and Foreclosure Rescue Scams

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has information about how to protect yourself from mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue scams.

Avoiding Scams Against Immigrants

Whether you’re renewing your Green Card, becoming a citizen, or trying to choose the right forms, immigration issues can be complicated. It’s important to do things right. Use these FTC resources to help spot and avoid scams, and find the right kind of help. Also, visit the USCIS Avoid Scams webpages to learn more about becoming an authorized service provider, common scams, finding legal services, form filing tips, and reporting immigration scams.  

Avoiding Scams Against Immigrants

Whether you’re renewing your Green Card, becoming a citizen, or trying to choose the right forms, immigration issues can be complicated. It’s important to do things right.  Use these resources to help spot and avoid scams, and find the right kind of help.

Avoiding ‘Card Skimming’ at ATMs and Other Money Machines

Thieves use high tech tools to capture account information and steal money. Learn how to protect yourself and your account information.

Beware of Home Improvement Transients (WI)

Some seasonal home improvement workers show up in your community offering roof repairs or driveway blacktop that turn out to be scams. Read more.

Beware of Unlicensed Money Senders! (Montgomery County, MD)

When sending money to family and friends, choose money transmitters carefully! Maryland law requires money transmitters to be licensed and have an insurance bond to cover the loss if your money does not reach its destination. Read more.

Chain Letters (WI)

At one time or another, everyone has received a chain letter scam through the regular mail or in an e-mail message. Chain mail letters promise a big return on a small investment. Don’t waste your money! Chain letters are illegal and they don’t work. Read more

Charity Scams

If you’re thinking about donating to a charity, do some research before you give. Read these tips to help make sure your charitable contributions are put to good use.

Child Identity Theft

Your child’s personal information is protected by law. Find out how your child’s information is collected, stored and used. Ask schools and other organizations to safeguard your child’s information to help reduce your child’s risk of identity theft.

College Financial Aid Scams (WI)

Unscrupulous companies guarantee they'll get you a scholarship or grant, if you pay them an advance fee.  Before you pay anyone for help, investigate the company and talk to a guidance or financial aid counselor.  Read more about how to find legitimate help.

Consumer Tips from the BBB

Read BBB expert advice about buying and selling and being a savvy consumer. BBB Consumer Tips provide real-time news about hot marketplace topics, from choosing the right auto insurance to picking the right wedding photographer.

Consumer.gov

Information for people of different literacy levels and those who want practical, concise information. Read about credit, debt, identity theft, avoiding scams, budgeting, and managing money. This free material is available in English and Spanish.

Contribution Requests (WI)

With hundreds of charities, for-profit companies, and political organizations soliciting for donations, it's hard to know which are legitimate.  Learn how to handle the offers of sweepstakes, emotional appeals, and confusing or misleading information before you contribute.

Curbstoners (Montgomery County, MD)

When you buy a used car from a private party, there's always a chance that you're really buying from a "curbstoner," a person who's in the business of selling used cars but doesn’t want you to know that. Read about signs to watch for when you buy a used car.

Dealing with Weather Emergencies

Preparing your family, pets, and property for extreme weather situations makes good sense. Protecting your personal information and finances from scammers who take advantage of weather emergencies to cheat people does, too.

Deceptive Local Phone Directory Listings (GA)

Georgia wants to crack down on businesses who disguise their out-of-state location by publishing a local number in a phone directory.  Read more about what to do if this happens to you.

Deceptive Mortgage Ads

The Federal Trade Commission says that when you shop for a home loan, it’s important to understand all the terms and conditions of a proposed loan. Start with the ad, and read what’s between the lines as well as what’s on the page.

Diploma Mills: Degrees of Deception (WI)

Be wary of ads or emails that claim you can earn a college degree based on "real life experience." Use the internet to check with the U.S. Department of Education to see if a school is accredited by a legitimate organization.

Diversity Visa Lottery Scams

Each year, the U.S. Department of State runs the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. The Program lets people get a "green card" - apply to be a lawful permanent resident. Dishonest attorneys and others may try to trick people who want to enter the lottery. Read more

Don’t Be a Victim of Health Fraud Scams

Health fraud scams fool people about products that may not be all they seem. The scams bombard us with deceptive marketing. Read this brochure to learn how to identify and avoid health fraud scams. Read more

Don’t Get Scammed: Beware of Health Fraud

Don't be duped into buying fraudulent health products. To learn about health fraud scams, watch this video featuring the Commissioner of Food and Drugs Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg and the FDA National Health Fraud Coordinator Gary Coody.

 

E-Mail Spam (GA)

“Spam” usually means unsolicited mass commercial email messages from a sender who doesn't have a business relationship with a recipient. The Georgia Slam Spam E-Mail Act penalizes some abuses related to spam messages.

Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes

If you are a victim of identity theft and have created an Identity Theft Report, you may want to place an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze on your credit file. Read more about the differences between these options and steps to take.

Fair and Trade Show Exhibitors – Not Always What They Seem (WI)

Many exhibitors at trade shows, fairs, or home improvement seminars are professional and reputable, but some vendors may be looking for potential victims to scam. Read more about what to watch for.

Fake Check Lottery Scams

Has someone notified you that you’ve won millions in a lottery or sweepstakes? Did they send you a check or money order for part of your winnings and ask you to send money for taxes or fees in order to collect the rest? Sorry, it’s a scam! Watch Consumer Federation of America’s funny video to learn how it works. More information about this and other variations of the scam is provided at www.consumerfed.org/fakecheckscams.

Fake Check Work at Home Scams

Has someone offered you a job working for them from your home? Did they send you a check or money order and ask you to send money somewhere as part of the job? Sorry, it’s a scam! Watch Consumer Federation of America’s funny video to learn how it works. More information about this and other variations of the scam is provided at www.consumerfed.org/fakecheckscams.

Family Emergency Scams

Scammers may pose as relatives or friends, calling or sending messages to urge you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency — like getting out of jail, paying a hospital bill, or leaving a foreign country. Their goal is to trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. Read more.

Fighting Telemarketing Fraud Against the Elderly (WI)

You can help empower people who may be targets of fraudulent telemarketers by describing some tip-offs to rip-offs, explaining their rights, and suggesting ways they can protect themselves.

File a Complaint with the FTC

The FTC is the nation’s consumer protection agency. If a business doesn’t make good on its promises or cheats you out of your money, the FTC wants to know.

Foreclosure Prevention Toolkit

Homeowners can get helpful information about avoiding foreclosure and foreclosure "rescue" scams.

Foreign Money Scams (WI)

People in Wisconsin are being targeted to invest in complicated bank fraud schemes that originate outside the U.S. One common scam starts with an unexpected letter or email from someone claiming to work on a Nigerian government project. 

Fraud Against Small Businesses (WI)

Small businesses are the targets of fraudulent or deceptive sales practices including business opportunities, office supply scams, and phony billing schemes.  This guide explains the scams and how to handle them.  

Free Grants: Don’t Take Them for Grant-ed (WI)

The “money for nothing” grant offers usually are scams, whether you see them in your local paper, a national magazine, or hear about them on the phone.

Fundraising for Law Enforcement and Fire Fighters (WI)

Solicitations, calls, and mail from groups that claim to be affiliated with law enforcement or fire fighters may not be related to your local police or fire organizations. Before you donate, find out who is calling, whether they're registered, and what share of your donation goes to local police or fire fighters. 

Get Rich Quick? (WI)

You may have seen TV infomercials or ads that claim their product or program will help you increase your wealth or start a business.  Before you invest, check out the business with state and local agencies, and get more information about the business.

Gifting Clubs (WI)

Gifting clubs are a type of fraudulent money making operation often beginning in neighborhoods, churches, or similar small communities. Gifting clubs are a type of fraudulent money making operation often beginning in neighborhoods, churches, orsimilar small communities. The Internet is also a popular place to find a gifting club classified as a business opportunity or online money-making venture. In reality, the clubs are illegal pyramid schemes. Read more

Going-Out-of-Business Sales (GA)

Have you ever seen a retail establishment that advertises it's “going out of business,” but somehow manages to hang on and stay in business?  It may be violating Georgia law, which prohibits conducting a going-out-of-business sale for longer than 90 days.

Government Imposter Scams

Scammers sometimes impersonate government officials to get you to send them money. No federal government agency or legitimate sweepstakes company will contact you to ask for money. And no matter what, if you have to pay, it’s not a prize. Read more.

Guide to Contests and Promotions (WI)

Learn which promotions, contests, sweepstakes, and other similar activities are legal in Wisconsin.

Guide to Contests and Promotions (WI)

Wisconsin law applies to contests, sweepstakes, lotteries and other promotions.  Learn which promotions are permitted in Wisconsin and how to spot scams. 

Health Fraud Scams - Don't Let This Happen to You (Video)

Promises of quick fixes and miracle cures can be found in TV infomercials, radio, direct mail, newspapers, and magazines. Don’t get fooled by bogus claims including "Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days!" “Grow Hair Back” and "Cure my Diabetes!" Watch this video to learn about common health fraud scams.

Health Fraud Scams - Be Smart, Be Aware, Be Careful (Video)

Health fraud scams target people with promises of quick and painless cures. They waste money and can lead to delay in getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. Watch this video and learn how to recognize and avoid health fraud scams.

Health Fraud Scams: Get the Facts

Health fraud scams refer to products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure diseases or other health conditions, but are not proven safe and effective for those uses. Learn about common health fraud scams.

Idaho Fraud Awareness Coalition

The mission of the Coalition is to teach consumers about the cost of fraud to individuals and families, the consequences and impact of fraud, and how to recognize and report fraud.

International Lottery Scams

Scam operators use the phone and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries. The solicitations violate U.S. law, which ban selling or buying lottery tickets from outside the U.S. by phone or mail. The FTC has words of caution about responding to a foreign lottery.

Internet-Based Business Opportunities (WI)

Internet businesses sound like the perfect job: be your own boss, set your own hours, and work from home.  In truth, most require a lot of time and money, and few succeed.  Investigate internet business opportunities as carefully as you would any other business opportunity.  

 

 

Jamaican Fraudsters Targeting U.S. Consumers

Fraudulent telemarketers based in Jamaica call people in the U.S. and say they've won a sweepstakes or foreign lottery. The Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Jamaican law enforcement say most of the promotions are tricks to try and get your money The agencies are working together to stop the scams.

Job Offers (WI)

Classified ads that promise glamorous jobs are very common in newspapers, magazines, email, and Internet solicitations. Unfortunately, the ads rarely lead to employment. Read more

Law Combats Fraud Against Elderly and Disabled (WI)

Wisconsin law allows additional punishment to those who take advantage of people with disabilities and people 62 and older. Read more.

Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign

In October 2009, NeighborWorks® America launched a national public education campaign to educate homeowners about loan modification scams. The campaign empowers homeowners to protect themselves against loan modification scams, find trusted help and report illegal activity to authorities. NeighborWorks® America is joined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Treasury, Federal Trade Commission, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and other national, state and local partners including 235 community-based affiliates. Together, they alert thousands of homeowners in hundreds of communities through real-life scam stories, fliers, postcards, e-cards, posters, print advertising, radio PSAs, events, word of mouth and social media activity. Materials are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Haitian Creole. The campaign encourages homeowners to “Know the signs. Get the facts.” Homeowners can call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) for loan modification guidance from a HUD-approved counseling agency or to report a scam, or visit LoanScamAlert.org.

Malware

Malware (short for “malicious software") includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer, phone, or mobile device without your consent. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. Read more

Modeling Agency Scams (WI)

If you have dreams of becoming a model, some ads may be tempting. But before you sign a contract, learn how to sort out the legitimate modeling agencies from the scams. Read more

Money Scams (WI)

Scammers use all kinds of stories to try to get you to wire money.  Read these tips before you wire money for "sweepstakes prize," "mystery shopper job," or because someone claims your friend "had an emergency in another country."

Money Wiring Scams

Watch a video about some common money wiring scams and learn how to avoid these scams.

Mortgage Fraud (FL)

Learn how foreclosure rescue scams operate and how Florida homeowners can get help with foreclosure problems.

National Do Not Call Registry

The FTC created the National Do Not Call Registry to offer consumers a choice about telemarketing calls. Find answers to frequently asked questions about how the registry works and how to register your phone number(s).

OnGuard Online.gov

Learn how to secure your computer, keep kids safe online, and steer clear of scams this federal government website.

Phishing, Vishing, Smishing – Don’t Take the Bait! (WI)

Fraudsters use email, voicemail, and text messages to try and capture your personal information.  Watch for warning signs and protect your personal information.

Private Internet Sales (WI)

A simple amount of research can give you a good idea if the online product or the seller is suspicious. Read more

Prize Offers (WI)

Some scam prize offers and sweepstakes use fancy certificates, official entry numbers, or envelopes that look like telegrams to trick people into thinking they're legitimate. Despite the fancy package, these offers will cost you money. Read more.

Protect Yourself from Fraud When You’re Buying Online

When you see an offer online, how can you be sure that the deal is real and not a rip-off? Read Consumer Federation of America’s tips and watch the funny video to learn how to protect yourself when you’re buying online.

Pyramid Schemes (WI)

Think twice before participating in a "fantastic business opportunity" that requires you to make an initial “gift” and then recruit new members.  It could be a new twist on a pyramid scheme. Read about Wisconsin laws that prohibit untrue, deceptive, or misleading presentations and unfair practices.

Rental Listing Scams

Hunting for a house or apartment to rent can be an adventure, and a balancing act. There's a lot to consider, like size, location, move-in date, monthly rent, parking, and utility bills. The FTC wants you to know how to avoid a rental scam.

Safety Tips for Mobile Devices

Mobile devices can be as powerful and connected as a PC or laptop. Learn safety precautions from the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. coalition. Read more

Scam Artists Target New Payment Methods

You may have heard that it’s a danger sign if someone you don’t know wants you to use a money transfer service to send them cash. Now scammers are using other ways to get people to send them money. Read Consumer Federation of America’s tips and watch the funny video to learn how to protect yourself and your hard-earned cash.

Scam Meter

Is your investment a scam? The FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s Scam Meter will help you find out. Learn more

Scam Stopper

BBB Scam Stopper helps people avoid wasting money or leaking personal information to a scam. With the growth of social media, internet shopping, online banking and other technology, scams are taking on new forms. It's often difficult to tell a legitimate offer from a scam in disguise.

Scholarship & Financial Aid Scams

Unscrupulous companies may "guarantee" they can get a scholarship for a student, or will "give" them a scholarship if they pay a fee. The company may give the student nothing for the fee, or tell them they were chosen as "finalists" and must pay another fee. The FTC cautions students to watch for signs of a scam.

Secrets of Mystery Shopping Revealed (WI)

You may have gotten emails or ads claiming you'll earn a living as a mystery shopper while dining at elegant restaurants, shopping at pricey stores, or checking into luxurious hotels. However, marketers who promote these jobs often don't deliver on their promises. Read more.

Slam the Door on Phishing

Read Consumer Federation of America’s tips and watch the funny video to learn how to protect yourself from identity thieves that try to trick you into providing your personal information.

Spam…It’s Junk Email & Texts (WI)

Often spam is promoting get rich quick schemes and questionable products. Common scams are chain letters, work at home schemes, weight loss potions, credit repair offers, advance fee loans, vacation offers, and adult entertainment. Read more

State-Federal Foreclosure Settlement (FL)

Florida Attorney General Bondi entered a landmark $25 billion joint federal-state agreement with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses and unacceptable nationwide mortgage servicing practices. Read more

Suspect a Health Care Scam? Here’s What to Do

Scams related to the Affordable Care Act? Here’s how to recognize and report them.

Tech Support Scams

People claiming to be computer techs associated with well-known companies call to say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer. It’s a trick to get access to your computer – or to get you to pay for software you don’t need.

Telemarketing Scams

Every year, thousands of people lose money to telemarketing scams. Telephone scammers will say anything to cheat people out of their money. There are ways to hang up on these scammers before they get the best of you and your money.

Texting Spam – “Smishing” (WI)

With the growing popularity of texting, phishers are using it as another means to gather consumers' personal information. This is known as “smishing.”

Timeshare Resale Fraud (FL)

The Florida Attorney General’s Office protects timeshare owners by investigating the business practices of telemarketing companies that market their advertising services to timeshare owners who want to sell or rent their timeshare interests. Read more

Travel Agencies (Montgomery County, MD)

While most travel agencies are reputable and guide consumers honestly and competently, some consumers pay for tickets they never receive. The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection suggests you carefully research a travel agency or merchant before you pay for services.

Travel Scams

Scammers never seem to take a vacation. Here’s what you need to know to avoid a travel scam.

Travel Tips

Whether you want to take a cruise, stay at a resort, or join a travel club, it pays to be an informed traveler Before you choose, read a company’s cancellation and refund policies, and consider whether you want travel cancellation insurance.

Trick$ of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud

Learn to spot and avoid investment fraud as the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and AARP uncover tricks criminals use to trap their victims. Order your copy of this free DVD documentary, which has been featured on PBS. Learn more

Using Money Transfer Services

Scam artists use many schemes to get your money; many involve transferring money through companies like Western Union and MoneyGram. According to the Federal Trade Commission, money transfers may be useful to send funds to someone you know and trust, but they’re completely inappropriate when you’re dealing with a stranger. Read more

Watch out for the Grandparent Scam

Have you heard about the grandparent scam? Even people who aren't grandparents can be targeted by crooks posing as friends or relatives who need cash quick because of an “emergency.” Watch CFA's funny video and learn more about how the scam works from the tips that CFA provides.

Work-at-Home Schemes (WI)

Ads for envelope stuffing, making craft items, government employment, secret shopper, medical billing and other business schemes promise consumers hundreds to thousands of dollars a month for an investment of a few dollars. But complaints by consumers show the result is usually the same – consumers lose their money. Read more.

Your General Telemarketing Rights

How can you tell the difference between a legitimate telemarketing call and a scam? It's not always easy, but new resources from the Consumer Federation of America can help. Check out the tips, video and guide to understanding your basic telemarketing rights.

“Phishing” and Other Online ID Theft Scams

Criminals steal usernames and passwords, get sensitive information, and sell risky securities. Learn how to spot some of the latest online scams and what to do about them.