Did you miss Wednesday’s Twitter chat with USA.gov, the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the three agencies held a live Q&A session on Twitter to talk with the public about identity theft, fraud, debt and more. Scambook joined in to get the official word on some of the hottest scam trends affecting consumers.
Here’s the highlights from our 140-character chat. For a full transcript, explore the #NCPW hashtag on Twitter.
Question #1: Boosting General Consumer Awareness
First, Scambook asked if there are any consumer rights and legal protections that the public might not know about.
Great advice, and we couldn’t agree more. When it comes to consumer protections and avoiding scams, the Internet is your best friend. Use it!
You can find safety tips, warning signs and reviews from other consumers all over the web. And hey, since you’re already here, might as well start by searching Scambook.
Question #2: HCG Ultra, Raspberry Ultra Drops and Diet Pill Scams
We then asked the FTC a burning question about those supposed fat-burning products, HCG Ultra and Raspberry Ultra Drops. How is the Federal Trade Commission protecting consumers from diet products like Raspberry Ultra Drops and HCG Ultra? Some of our users allege that the manufacturers hack their email and Facebook account.
USA.gov answered this on behalf of the FTC:
They also offered a helpful link explaining how the “miracle” weight loss claims used to sell these diet products can be grossly misleading, warning consumers to watch out for advertisements disguised as health news.
For more info about the deceptive practices used to promote diet supplements, check out our article HCG Ultra Drops Linked to a Fake Fox News Page.
Question #3: Government Impersonation Scams
Next, we wanted to get the government opinion on government impersonation.
What should consumers do if they’ve been contacted by a scammer impersonating a government agency or a government official? This alarming trend has been making the rounds lately as a cyber scam that hijacks the victim’s computer in the name of the “FBI Cyber Crime Division.” (Yeah, right.)
USA.gov and the FTC said:
The CFPB website recommends taking these steps if you’re contacted by a scammer impersonating someone from the government:
- Call the CFPB by dialing (855) 411-2372 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday
- Contact your State Attorney General
- Report the incident to the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force by visiting www.stopfraud.gov
- Get the word out — warn your friends and family so they don’t fall victim to the scam
More great advice! Don’t forget to file a complaint on Scambook, too, and get involved in our community by leaving a comment on this blog article or current complaints.
Question #5: Health Care Fraud and Insurance Scams
We also wanted to know if the FTC had any advice for consumers who want to avoid health care fraud and health insurance scams.
They Tweeted this answer:
The provided link describes how “medical discount” scams can steal your money, place you at risk for identity theft, and worst of all, may prevent you from getting the real health care you need.
We’ll do some digging and publish an in-depth look at these “discount plan” fraud schemes in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out our related videos:
- Are You at Risk? How to Protect Yourself from Health Scams
- Fake Obamacare Health Insurance Used By Criminals Trying to Steal Your Money
Question #6: Getting Your Stolen Identity Back
Finally, we asked for the FTC and USA.gov’s advice on identity theft — after it happens. If you discover your identity has been stolen, what are the easiest steps to take to repair the damage?
And what are those steps?
- Place an initial fraud alert
- Order your credit reports
- Create an identity theft report
Despite that short list, repairing identity theft can be a very long process. Click here for the FTC’s complete guide and information about monitoring your progress.
Of course, the best way to deal with identity theft is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. For some helpful safety tips, watch our video How to Protect Yourself From Scams and Identity Theft in the New Year.
Do You Have Questions About Consumer Protection?
What do you think of our Q&A with the FTC and USA.gov? Do you have any general consumer questions you want answered? The live Twitter chat may be over, but you can always leave your questions in the comments!
The Scambook Blog will do our best to get the answers you need to protect yourself from scams, fraud, identity theft and bad business practices.
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