(RALEIGH) Each year scams cost North Carolina consumers millions of dollars, often by stealing and then exploiting their confidential information. This National Consumer Protection Week we will highlight ways to avoid common scams.
“Scammers and fraudsters are clever and they’re always coming up with new ways to steal your money,” said AG Josh Stein. “My office can help you educate yourself on how protect your money and yourself.”
Scam artists are creative and they can be convincing. They often pose as representatives of well-known companies, government agencies or even loved ones to take advantage of consumers. Consumers should be extremely wary if they receive requests for personal or financial information online or by phone. When in doubt, consumers should hang up and contact the company or agency directly, at a number they look up and confirm as legitimate.
Here are some recent scams to avoid:
Western Union scam email
- This scam seeks to capitalize on a recent Western Union settlement. Consumers who previously wired funds to scammers receive an email that appears to be from Western Union, regarding a refund of their lost money. Email correspondence may include references to the FBI and US Treasury Department.
High School Senior scams
- A new online scam is targeting high school students and their families through a company called College Level Exam, selling DVDs that claim to assist students with financial aid, scholarships and college entrance. This company is charging large fees for services and information that are free.
- A telemarketing scam calls students and families posing as Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), asking personal and financial questions.
Government Grant scam
- North Carolina has seen a rise in government grant scams. In these telemarketing scams, con artists pose as representatives of the federal government, Federal Reserve or another official-sounding agency and tell consumers they are eligible for a federal grant because they’ve paid their taxes on time or have no criminal record. They ask for the consumer’s bank account information in order to make a direct deposit. These callers appear to be overseas scammers.
Businesses, organizations and private citizens can report email scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by filing a consumer complaint online or calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina. Consumers who are victims of a security breach can also get tips on steps to take to minimize the damage at ncdoj.gov.