How to Avoid Being a Victim of Consumer Fraud

Never give your credit card, social security number, or any other financial information out over the telephone, by mail, or by email unless you initiate the contact and know who you are dealing with.

Here are some "red flags" that should warn you that a letter, phone call, or email you receive may be a scam:

  • High pressure tactics. Beware of phrases like: "You will lose out if you don't act now" or "Don't discuss your sweepstakes winnings with anyone until you get your check."
  • Up front payment. If you are told you must pay up front to receive your prize or winnings, it's likely to be a scam. If you've won something, it's yours and you should not have to pay anything in advance, including taxes or shipping and handling.
  • Refusal to provide written information. If the person or company contacts you but refuses to give information in writing, don't do business with them.
  • Unrealistic profits. Be skeptical if you are told that you can make lots of money quickly with no risk, or with no experience or training.

If you receive a telephone call that includes any of these red flags, just hang up. You don't have to listen. Remember that telemarketing fraud is a crime and the people who practice it are criminals.