Warning: Phony Sweepstakes Scam Using FTC’s Name

iWarning“Hi, I’m calling from the Federal Trade Commission to tell you that you have won $250,000…”

If you receive a phone call like this, you are most likely being targeted as a potential victim of a scam. Reports of someone claiming to be from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have surfaced, so be aware not to fall victim.  The scammers in this situation pretend to be from the Federal Trade Commission, possibly even using the name of an actual FTC employee, and ask you to pay “taxes” or “insurance” in order to claim your prize, either by wiring money or sending a check.

TelemarketedIf you receive any sort of calls like this, DO NOT send any money, and report the incident to the FTC at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.  The FTC is the nation’s consumer protection agency and they investigate fraud and provide free information.  The FTC will never ask you to send them money, and neither will a legitimate sweepstakes company.

Take the following precautions to prevent yourself from falling victim to any type of sweepstakes scam:

Don’t pay to collect winnings.  If a company makes you pay to collect your sweepstakes winnings, you aren’t dealing with a legitimate company and may end up never seeing that money again.  Legitimate sweepstakes companies will never ask you to pay “taxes,” “insurance,” or “shipping and handling” on your winnings.

Hold on to your money.  When scammers act, they will try to pressure you into wiring money through commercial money wiring companies such as Western Union.  Wiring money is essentially the same as sending cash, so if you do fall victim, there is very little chance of recovering your money.  Also don’t mail a check or money order, especially by way of any sort of high speed shipping.  This allows the scammers to receive the money before you realize the scam.

Beware of look-alikes.  It is illegal for anyone to lie about an affiliation with or endorsement by a government agency or other well known organization.  Sometimes scammers may use a similar name to trick you into trusting them, but remember, insurance companies will never insure delivery of sweepstakes winnings.

Phone numbers can be deceptive.  Internet technology exists that allows con artists to disguise their area code.  Although it may appear that your caller is contacting you from Washington DC, they could in fact be calling you from anywhere in the world.

Alert the FTC! If somebody tries to impersonate a government agency to try and take your money, be sure to file a complaint at ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.  When you do this make sure you provide as many details as possible. Your complaint is more helpful if it includes information such as the time of the call, the phone number, name of the person or organization who called, which FTC employee name(s) were used, requested amount and method of money to be sent, or any other details.

We urge you to constantly be on the lookout for scammers and to always protect your personal and account information. Do not hesitate to call our Member Service Center at 866.750.0100 or stop into one of our branches if you suspect any fraudulent activity on your First Financial accounts.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s