March 4, 2021
by Daniel Kaufman
Acting Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection
This pandemic has brought lots of side effects. Lost jobs, lost income, and lost homes are themes we see around the country — and scammers know just how to take advantage of these worries. Another side effect of the pandemic is isolation, which scammers also like to use to their advantage. During National Consumer Protection Week, which starts today, I’m asking you to join me in fighting isolation to fight scams.
The FTC knows that people who talk about scams are much less likely to fall for them. So, when people of any age are on their own too much, they don’t have the chance to talk things out. And when scammers — who are calling, emailing, and texting — might be a person’s main source of contact, nothing good happens next.
So, today, pick up the phone. Call someone you haven’t talked with in a while. Maybe somebody who might be too much alone. See how they’re doing. And work into the conversation these ideas:
- Scammers have lots of fake stories: early or guaranteed access to vaccines (no such thing), you’ve won a prize (you haven’t), your computer needs tech support (it doesn’t), they’re an online love interest (not if they want money).
- Whatever their story, scammers want you to pay or share your personal information.
- Nobody legit will ever (EVER) tell you to pay by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency.
- No government agency will ever call/email/text to ask you for money, your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number.
After you’ve reached out and shared these ideas, invite your friend or relative to call you back: just to talk, or if something fishy comes up and they want a second opinion. And if someone paid a scammer, please tell them to report it: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.