Most people who fall for scams are not aware of them in the first place. Not all fraud incidents fall under the category of being “too good to be true.” The current trend in the underworld of scams involves trying to appear as mundane as possible; this is why it is important to learn about these situations beforehand.
Here are three reliable sources of information about scams and how they can be avoided.
The Federal Trade Commission
The mission of this government agency includes the prevention of unfair business practices; to this effect, the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau routinely keeps individuals informed about scams, fraudulent actions, and business trends that may undermine the public trust. The consumer.ftc.gov website of the FTC is often the first to break news about deceptive practices and unscrupulous business trends that unfold on a national level. At the same time, the FTC also conducts investigations and refers cases to prosecutors when scams should be handled as criminal offenses.
In recent months, the FTC has been educating consumers about cryptocurrencies and how they can be used as investment commodities or to settle monetary transactions. The position that the FTC has taken towards digital currencies is mostly cautionary; for example, the advice given to consumers revolves around the risk of unscrupulous blockchain developers who launch initial coin offerings only to liquidate and exchange their own holdings to dollars when the price of the tokens increases to a certain level, thus leaving ICO investors at a major disadvantage when token demand dries up.
The Better Business Bureau
Since 1912, the BBB has been providing consumers with valuable information about the track record of commercial entities as it relates to their level of trustworthiness. Each company listed by the BBB makes a commitment to conduct business with a high degree of fairness and concern for customers. Companies are giving letter grades to indicate their ratings. The BBB verifies and confirms listings, so if you see company details like this, you know that you are dealing with a legitimate entity. In addition to company listings and ratings, this organization also publishes content related to consumer topics, particularly with regard to avoiding scams.
In the U.S., the BBB has issued warnings about scams involving falsified vaccination certificates given to patients who wish to travel. These fake cards are often issued by dodgy businesses that are not listed on the BBB registry of companies. Keep in mind that the federal government is not issuing COVID-19 passports, so this would be a sign of a scam if you come across it.
The Identity Theft Resource Center
Since 2005, the non-profit organization Identity Theft Resource Center has been helping victims who are impacted by identity theft situations. The number of online schemes that seek to steal username and password credentials has proliferated in recent years, and they often target social networks as the first step into stealing personal information. The mission of the ITRC includes forging partnerships with law enforcement, information security, and consumer protection agencies.
The consumer alerts posted by the ITRC are constantly updated, and they often feature scams that may not have been very successful in the past, but are nonetheless recycled for the purpose of targeting new victims. One recent example involved a fake Christmas bonus scam that was crafted as a fake chain email letter, and which sought to gain access to personal data of unsuspecting users. This scam dates back to 2015, and it seems to be refreshed every other holiday season.