We’ve all heard about the scams—a Nigerian prince asking for your bank account information, a granddaughter calling from Mexico for help, and the IRS calling to accuse you of owing back taxes. As our world becomes more interconnected and complex so do the ploys to take our money. However, figuring out that you are being duped doesn’t need to be difficult.
The Federal Trade Commission, a national governmental agency working to stop consumer fraud, offers two simple tips to identifying a scam.
Before sending anyone money, talk to a family member or friend. After talking with a person you trust, you may start to see that the story the scammer told you does not quite add up. If the scammer tries to hurry you, hang up. Legitimate financial institutions, companies and government agencies will not ask for immediate payment.
Second, never wire money or send a reloadable card to someone you do not know. Any legitimate business or government entity will have an address to mail checks or a secure online server to make payments. Scam artists use Western Unions and MoneyGram because it is very difficult for law enforcement to trace the money.
If you are a victim of a scam, there are a few agencies that may be able to help. Do not feel shame about being scammed, scam artists are experts. When you report a scam you can help others learn to avoid falling for a scammer’s deception. Complaints may be submitted to the following agencies:
In St. Louis
- Every St. Louis police dispatch has a fraud department that can file your complaints and direct you to local resources. Call 911 to be connected.
- The regional Better Business Bureau can help investigate complaints and sometimes arbitrate issues. Visit their website.
- The Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division has a team of advocates that investigate and mediate disputes. Visit their website or call 1-800-392-8222.
- The Federal Trade Commission can investigate and legally pursue companies that have violated the law and defrauded consumers. Visit their website or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversees financial institutions and ensures they follow the law. Visit the website or call 1-855-411-2372.