Have you become a victim of Consumer Fraud?
Did you know that there are so many variations of consumer fraud schemes occurring every day that it affects roughly 12% of the American adult population?
The advanced technology products that we use in our lives and homes every day have increased the likelihood of success of the fraudsters behind many of these scams. It is difficult to measure the true cost of fraud to the U.S. economy, but estimates from experts estimate above $60 billion and increasing every year.
Here is an example of a few of the most common scams we have seen in Bucks County.
Credit card (not seen) fraud- this can happen when you make transactions online or over the phone using your credit card. This seems to be one of the most popular forms of scams. Successful fraudulent transactions of this nature increase every year. To help prevent credit card fraud, keep close tabs on incoming bills. Look for potentially fraudulent charges or any obvious mistakes. If you receive a call or email about a fraudulent purchase made on one of your credit cards by a particular business, be suspicious. Then contact that Business directly via email or phone number on the back of the credit card you were issued. Do not follow or click on links or call back a number left by a suspicious caller or emailer. Scammers will leave their fake and temporary number or untraceable email address in the hope of tripping you up.
Bogus medical and healthcare claims are wreaking havoc, too, with estimates of the fraud coming in at around $70 billion a year. Insurance fraud, in general, costs the U.S. over $308 billion a year.
Identity theft is one of the scariest instances of fraud because victims don’t usually discover the “damage” until it is done. It can then take years and copious resources to correct the damage. The long-term effect is coping with financial loss as well as repairing your damaged credit score. A good way to protect yourself is to put a free credit freeze on your social security number. This will help prevent fraudsters from opening new credit in your name. You can do this by contacting the major credit reporting agencies.
Fraud results in enormous costs for businesses and consumers alike. Consumers can protect themselves by being cautious when asked to share personal information or to pay money under pressure. If you are asked about either, you stop, think, and verify before acting.
You might think that individuals experiencing fraud most frequently would be the elderly, lonely, and naïve segments of the population, but truthfully, even tech-savvy individuals are at just as much risk of being scammed.
The most common scams are committed via telephone or the Internet. In fact, internet fraud becomes more sophisticated each year. It is best not to pick up or accept a call if you do not know who the caller is. We suggest you let your answering services do the work. This will help cut down on future scam calls.
You should check the sender email address even from frequent, known emailers. You can often spot a scam if the address is peculiar looking or contains a name you don’t recognize. It is especially important to double-check the email addresses of government agencies to ensure that the email is really from that agency.
In Bucks County, we have several resources that you can contact if you suspect that you are dealing with a scam. Call Bucks County Consumer Protection or any department of the Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force at the below numbers.
To learn how to protect yourself from scams and fraud, please visit the Bucks County Consumer Protection website at: www.buckscounty.gov/cp and view our “Consumer Tips” page.
Monthly Fraud Alerts brought to you by Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force 24-hour hotline: 1-800-490-8505, Bucks County District Attorney’s Office: 215-348-6344, A Woman’s Place (AWP): 1-800-220-8116, Bucks County Area Agency on Aging: 267-880-5700, Bucks County Office of Consumer Protection: 215-348-6060, Bucks County Coroner’s Office: 215-348-3852, Bucks County Register of Wills: 215-348-6265, Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA): 1-800-675-6900, and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services/OIG: 1-800-447-8477.