National Consumer Protection Week

By NBPD Crime Prevention

National Consumer Protection Week is March 3-9. The goal of this week is to share information about avoiding scams, preventing identity theft and reporting fraud. Knowing more about these issues can help protect you from being a victim. Two common situations the Newport Beach Police Department would like to highlight this week are:

Imposter Scams and Identify Theft.

Four key things you should know about Imposter Scams:

1. Scammers will claim to be someone you trust or from an organization you are familiar with. You might get an email that looks like it’s from your bank or a company whose products you use. Or you may get a phone call from someone saying they’re with a government agency, a charity or even claiming to be your grandchild.

2. Scammers will play on your emotions and create a sense of urgency. They claim there is some problem or emergency to scare you. They might threaten that your utilities or your computer will be shut off.  Some scammers claim that you will be arrested or your license will be taken away. Or, they claim that you won some sort of prize or have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to that you don’t want to miss out on.

3. Scammers pressure you into acting quickly – before you have time to question them. They may try to convince you to stay on the phone with them so you can’t check out their story. Whatever their tactic, they are trying to make you feel like you need to act immediately.

4. Scammers are trying to get money or personal information from you. Whatever their fictitious story, the request is either for you to provide some personal information or to send money to pay taxes or fees or to help someone you care about.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of NBPD

NBPD provides information on how to avoid frauds and scams

Here’s what you can do:

1. Stop. Check it out. Do not provide any money or personal information until you have verified the identity of the caller. For calls from alleged government agencies or utility companies: Ask the caller for their name, department and business phone number. Confirm that information by calling the organization at a phone number found on the internet or through official correspondence/billing statements. If the caller refuses to provide this information, terminate the call immediately. In personal situations, try to contact the loved one who you are concerned about, or call friends or another family member before you send any money or give out personal information.

2. Keep your information safe. Never give out personal identifying information, such as your social security number, bank account or credit card account numbers to anyone you do not know.

3. Pass this information on to a friend. You may not have received one of these calls, but chances are that you know someone who will – if they have not already.

If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, check out this resource from the Federal Trade Commission for what to do next: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-do-if-you-were-scammed.

How Identity Theft typically works:

Someone gets your personal information and runs up charges in your name. They might use your Social Security or Medicare number, your credit card, or your medical insurance along with your good name.

These are signs that someone is using your identity:

–You get bills for things you did not buy or services you did not use.

–Your bank account has withdrawals you did not make.

–You don’t get bills you expect.

–You check your credit report and find accounts you never knew about.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Protect your information. Shred documents before you throw them out, give your Social Security number only when you must and use strong passwords online.

2. Check your monthly statements and your credit. Read your account statements and explanations of benefits. Be sure you recognize what they show. Once a year, get your credit report for free from annualcreditreport.com or 1.877.322.8228. The law entitles you to one free report each year from each credit bureau. If you see something you don’t recognize, deal with it right away.

If you suspect identity theft, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Visit www.identitytheft.gov/#/ to report identity theft and get a personal recovery plan. It will walk you through the steps to take.

To learn more about your consumer rights and how to avoid frauds and scams, check out additional resources from the Federal Trade Commission:

–Sign up for consumer alerts directly from the FTC here.

–Find resources in 12 different languages at https://consumidor.ftc.gov/estafas.

Find videos at www.youtube.com/ftcvideos.

Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing series of community information provided by the Newport Beach Police Department.


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