Consumer protection preventing online fraud
Online fraud in the U.S. affects millions of people each year so we've compiled a list of consumer protection tips to help you keep your information, and your money, safe.
The goal of most online scams is to collect valuable personal information that will grant fraudsters access to your banking information, or directly to your money. Many of these scams are complicated, global networks that are often hard for authorities to trace.
Here are the best consumer protection tips you can take to prevent online fraud and identity theft online.
From the General Trade Commission, here's what you need to KNOW to protect yourself from online lending fraud:
It is illegal for a collections agency to call you and make threatening claims, like threatening to arrest or sue you if you do not pay back a loan you took out online. To protect yourself as a consumer, do not let people who get your number intimidate you into giving them your personal information.
Consumer Protection Tip: Instead get their (the online fraudster's) personal information and tell them you will call them back after you investigate the claim they are making. From there you can contact your bank and lenders and notify them of this online fraud. You may need to contact the authorities as well so they can track the fraud attempts and prevent futures attempts at online lending fraud.
Wiring money and using ACH transactions are very different in terms of online lending; You should not repay a loan through a wire transfer. Wiring money is like sending cash, so be aware of who sends and receives your money, so in the event something goes wrong, you know who to call. An ACH transaction is protected because it is traceable, given that it moves money between banks. Online fraudsters often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it's nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.
Consumer Protection Tip: Don't wire money to strangers or sellers who only accept wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.
Scammers can steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name.
Consumer Protection Tip: Read your monthly statements. Dishonest merchants bill you for monthly “membership fees" and other goods or services without your authorization. If you see charges you don't recognize or didn't approve, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately.
Don't be a victim of phishing. Delete email and text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information (credit card and bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc.). Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email or text and if they do, you should be wary of online fraud.
Consumer Protection Tip: In order to prevent becoming a victim of future phishing fraud, forward phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org – and add the name of the company, organization or entity impersonated in the email. Be a consumer protection advocate by preventing online fraud and alerting the proper authorities.
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