The Federal Trade Commission Host Stakeholder Roundtable in Milwaukee on Avoiding Scams, Today
No matter the age, every individual can be scammed, if they’re not careful and don’t know the warning signs. According to the The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Sentinel Network, Wisconsin reported 18,913 fraudulent situations to the FTC in 2018.
Many people think that scams can only happen to the older generation, but anyone can be scammed. The number one scam is the imposter scam, which is exactly what it says—someone or people pretending to be someone else to get another person to send them money, personal information or both.
FTC Consumer Education Specialist Andrew Johnson said there are multiple ways people are scammed from imposters. A lot of scammers like to prey on vulnerable people, such as senior citizens and their social security, or college students looking for grants.
“Scams affect everyone,” said Johnson. “It could be a grandparent, a parent, anybody.”
For example, a scammer will call a senior citizen with a caller ID that looks like it’s calling from the IRS or SSI and will then say that the individuals SSI has been suspended due to suspicious activity. To get out of this situation, they will ask the senior citizen to give them their personal information, pay a down payment right away or transfer money to a reloadable gift card and have them give the gift card numbers to the scammer. Before the senior citizen can even realizes it, they’ve been scammed.
A younger person can be scammed too, but it would be a little different, Johnson said. Remember it’s not always about the age of the victim, but the vulnerable stage they might be in. For example, a first-generation college student has just finished her first semester of college, and is looking for grants to pay for her next semester. She’s applying for grant after grant, inputting her personal information over and over. A scammer can get a hold of that information, contact the student and pretend to be an entity giving away grant money. But, in order for the student to receive the grant money, the must either send in more personal information or make a downpayment.
These are only a couple of examples of how individuals can become scammed, yet both are easily avoidable if you know the scams are out there and how to avoid them.
According to the FTC’s website, one of their goals is to protect the consumer from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace. The FTC doesn’t defend individual cases but instead watches trends, and when they notice a large network of companies, organizations, or whoever, is scamming people then they will sue those larger entities, according to Johnson.
“We try to find out the main culprit,” he said.
The FTC also travels the country holding stakeholder meetings that include community advocates and FTC members to share information on scams. The FTC is currently in town to host a meeting that focuses on spotting and avoiding scams targeting diverse communities in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Along with sharing information, the FTC wants to hear from the community on experiences they’ve had with scams.
According to the FTC, there are 10 things you can do to avoid fraud:
Do online searches.
Don’t believe your caller ID.
Don’t pay upfront for a promise.
Consider how you pay.
Talk to someone.
Hang up on robocalls.
Be skeptical about free trial offers.
Don’t deposit a check and wire money back.
Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scams.
For more information on the FTC and their resources, or to report fraud, visit their site.
The FTC Stakeholder Roundtable meeting will be held today, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Milwaukee Public Library, Washington Park Branch located at 2121 N. Sherman Blvd. To RSVP contact Sandy Close at firstname.lastname@example.org or Anthony Advincula at email@example.com.