Consumer Alert

The Federal Trade commission (FTC) has identified the 10 most common email scams that consumers should be on the lookout to avoid. They are as follows:

  1. Advance Fee Fraud
    Con artists offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if you will pay a fee or "taxes" to help them access their money. If you respond, you may receive documents that look "official". Beware, the emails are from crooks trying to steal your money or identity.
  2. Phishing
    This scam sends email or pop-up messages that claim to be from a business or organization you may deal with and asks you to update, validate or confirm your account or face the consequences. Phishing is a scam where Internet fraudsters send spam or pop-up messages to reel in personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. Do not respond or click on the links.
  3. Check Overpayment Scams
    This involves a response to your ad or online auction posting from a "buyer" who offers to pay with a check. At the last minute the "buyer" or "buyer's agent" comes up with a reason to write the check for more than the purchase price and asks you to wire back the difference. Typically, the checks are counterfeit and when they bounce, you are liable for the entire amount.
  4. Work-at-Home Scams
    Do envelope stuffing or other jobs at home and earn thousands of dollars a week. You are asked to pay a fee to begin and instead of real employment, you'll be asked to solicit others by email to perpetuate the same scheme. Too good to be true deals are usually just that.
  5. Weight Loss Claims
    Pills, patches, creams or other products that will help you lose weight without exercise or changing your eating habits. Experts agree that the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity. Buyer beware.
  6. Foreign Lotteries
    These emails boast terrific odds for customers to win in foreign lotteries. Most of these promotions are phony. Participating in a foreign lottery violates U.S. law. The scammers will keep any money you send for "taxes or fees" and will try to use your bank account numbers or credit card numbers to access more of your money. Skip these offers.
  7. Cure-all products
    "Scientific breakthroughs, miraculous cure, secret formula" are touted and promise amazing results. When evaluating health care claims, be skeptical and consult a health care professional before buying any cure-all product.
  8. Investment Schemes
    These offer investments with extremely high rates of return and little or no risk. Sometimes early investors are paid off with money from later investors and are encouraged to invest more. Ponzi schemes eventually collapse because there isn't enough money coming in to continue the earnings payouts. Evaluate any investment opportunity carefully and discuss with an accountant, investment professional or lawyer before you invest.
  9. Pay-in-Advance Credit Offers
    You are "pre-qualified" to get a low-interest loan or credit card or repair your bad credit. To take advantage of the offer, you must pay a processing fee of several hundred dollars. Never pay for a promise. Legitimate lenders never "guarantee" a loan or card before you apply.
  10. Debt Relief
    Emails that offer ways to consolidate your bills without borrowing or wipe out your debts entirely. These offers often involve bankruptcy proceedings, but rarely say so. Before resorting to this, talk with your creditors about arranging a modified payment plan or talk to a credit counseling service to develop a debt repayment plan.

If you do receive any of these solicitations, forward them to spam@uce.gov.