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How to Report Consumer Fraud

What is Consumer Fraud?

Anyone can be the victim of consumer fraud and the resulting financial loss can vary in severity. Since anyone can fall victim to consumer fraud, it is important to understand what consumer fraud is, how to prevent it, and how to report scams.

Getting Immediate Help

Even if you aren’t 100% sure that fraud has taken place, you should consider contacting the appropriate authorities. It might be possible to initiate fraud prevention tactics before the scammer has a chance to take advantage of your personal information.

If you suspect foul play, contact eConsumer Services®. We can get the ball rolling, helping to prevent any future damage and rectify any fraudulent activity if it has already happened.

Fill out the form to the right and we’ll take a look at your case.

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at what exactly constitutes consumer fraud and what you can do about it.

What is Consumer Fraud?

Fraud is the deliberate use of deception for unfair or illegal gain of financial or other resources. Usually scammers have a legitimate business front, but cause losses for consumers through dishonest practices.

Perpetrators of consumer fraud may lie to gain personal or financial information, intentionally fail to deliver a product they sell, deliver a counterfeit product, retrieve personal information (such as credit cards or bank statements) from the garbage, or hack into bank company websites.

The methods used vary widely, and the end result for consumers can range from paying hidden fees for a membership or subscription to outright identity theft.

How to Prevent Consumer Fraud

Some people are at higher risk for consumer fraud than others. People who do not read their monthly statements, carelessly discard of account information, or are willing to wire transfer money to people they do not know are at high risk for consumer fraud.

Participating in the buying and selling personal documentation such as passports, social security numbers, and fake identification cards is illegal and makes participants particularly vulnerable to identity theft, a common form of fraud.

Credit cards are often targeted by scam artists. Forms of credit card fraud protection include:

  • being mindful during a transaction to get your card back
  • not signing blank receipts
  • saving receipts
  • comparing receipts with the credit card bill
  • monitoring bills or online transactions for unauthorized charges
  • notifying the card issuer of travel plans or a change of address.

And of course do not give your card information to any unknown party.

Online fraud is increasingly common. The Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests:

  • dealing with only known or reputable online merchants
  • being cautious when buying from sellers outside of the United States
  • verifying that there are no hidden shipping or handling costs
  • not providing unnecessary information (such as a social security or driver’s license number) during a transaction

How to Report Consumer Fraud

If you are a victim, it is important to report consumer fraud so that personal losses may be lessened and the perpetrator can be identified and stopped.

All types of fraud should be filed as a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC will enter the information in their online database, which can be accessed by various law enforcement agencies. This database helps identify patterns of fraud or abuse, which allows law enforcement agencies to take action to stop dishonest business practices.

Please note that the FTC cannot resolve individual complaints.

Victims of scams can also report consumer fraud to local or state consumer protection agencies, especially if a law has been violated. Scams can be reported to the state attorney general, and scams that used the mail should be reported the United States Postal Service. Victims of credit card fraud should immediately dispute unauthorized claims with the card issuer. Taking this step significantly improves chances of being reimbursed

Lastly, complaints can be filed with the relevant agency for unsafe or misrepresented products. For example, automobile-related complaints are filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; food, drugs, and medical device complaints are filed with the Food and Drug Administration; toys and household product complaints are filed with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Though even the savviest consumer can fall victim to consumer fraud, there are steps that can be taken to minimize risk. If the unfortunate happens, report consumer fraud as quickly as possible to protect yourself and others from further harm.