National Consumer Protection Week: Learn How to Protect Yourself and Your Home From Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday launched its National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), an annual event aimed at teaching customers how to protect themselves from falling victim to fraud and identity theft.
Working in conjunction with 89 other agencies, the NCPW’s website features resources to help you become a more informed customer, including information on managing credit and debt, staying safe online, and more. The site also has information on where to file complaints with federal, state, and other partners, including the FTC.
“Our mission is to protect our consumers not just through education but in bringing legal action against companies that violate consumer law,” says Lisa Lake, the FTC’s consumer education specialist.
The FTC will host a live Twitter chat tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3, at 2 p.m. EST, to answer consumers’ questions about common scams, like con artists posing as government officials, a fraud consistently making the FTC’s annual top 10.
To join the conversation follow @FTC and use the hashtag #NCPW2015.
NCPW partners include government agencies (like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and consumer organizations (like Operation HOPE, Inc. and NeighborWorks America®). Fraud topics addressed include technology, cars, credit cards, identity theft, and, of course, your home.
“[The home] is certainly a priority for us at the FTC to educate people about loan modification scams and foreclosure scams,” says Lake. “We have for a long time educated people on how to avoid those pitfalls.”
The goal is to help consumers make informed buying decisions and recognize scams like false claims in advertising and loan modification schemes.
For instance, in the “Your Home” tab of the “Consumer Topics” section, homeowners can find topics like:
Avoid Foreclosure Rescue Scams
- Scammers can prey on those homeowners who are facing foreclosures. The FTC has produced a video that shares true stories from those who have been victimized by these scammers.
- Sometimes a “green” product might not be so friendly to your environment or your home. The FTC has a guide to educate consumers on how they can spot bogus green advertising claims and find products that are energy efficient.
Beware of Home Improvement Transients
- Home improvement workers who show up unannounced to offer their services for bargain prices can be thieves in disguise. The State of Wisconsin’s Bureau of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has tips on how to safeguard your home from these “rip-off artists.”
Several states will be holding their own anti-fraud workshops during NCPW week. Mississippi is holding its “Community Shred Day” that will educate consumers on identity theft and even let them shred up to five bags of their sensitive documents for free. The state of Ohio will host a series of workshops aimed at helping consumers spot scams aimed at senior citizens.
Find out more about NCPW by visiting its website at NCPW.gov.