BOSTON (CBS) – This is National Consumers Protection Week. This is a national campaign to reach consumers to help them make informed decisions but also to help them avoid being scammed.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest numbers consumers lose close to $50 billion a year to scams!
Turn on your computer and voila the scams find you. The scammers go phishing for their victims. They send out a blanket e-mail that looks very official in hopes of trapping a few victims into sending personal information.
Do not give out your Social Security number, PINs or account numbers. The IRS, your bank, credit union, mutual fund company, or credit card company are not going to correspond with you via e-mail regarding your accounts. They will send a letter.
I went into my junk mail file. There were phishing e-mails sent out about helping earthquake victims in New Zealand. If you got one also do not respond to any unsolicited e-mails regarding the disasters and do not click on any links or view pictures. To help go to a legitimate charity, like the Red Cross.
Also there were some e-mails on being selected as a mystery shopper. But I needed to send them my bank account information so they could wire me money to start shopping. Then there was one where they wanted my resume and Social Security number so they could do a background check on me before they sent me the money to start shopping!
Many of the e-mails wanted to sell me pills for ED. Then there was for one for a chairlift, discounted car insurance, online gambling, time shares, beautiful women in Russia, 80% off an online shop, government grants, photography school, nursing assistant, medical transcription and much more.
Here was one meant to get my attention, a phishing message that stated “We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”
And I loved this one, “If we do not receive the appropriate account verification within 48 hours your account will be locked down and then suspended.”
Scary sounding stuff and something that would make you immediately think you better do something quick, but don’t. They were from a source claiming to be the Ohio Savings Bank, Bank of Montreal and Wells Fargo. I don’t have accounts with any of them.
If you do get an e-mail that is phishing or spam, forward it to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org . They are trying to catch the bad guys!
One more thing: And then there is all of the other junk mail. Here the spammers have figured out how to send out blanket e-mails in hopes of getting a few victims to buy their Viagra pills, green tea or colon cleansing drinks. If they slip by your spam filters just delete them. There is a reason they are called junk mail!