Monica Vaca, Associate Director of Consumer Response and Operations at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asks: “Did you recently get an official FTC letter from me?” That’s in quotes because it wasn’t actually from me. And the letter wasn’t official, or even from the FTC at all. In fact, scammers have been faking official-looking letterhead to write scary messages to people, threatening them. But again, it’s not real so don’t be alarmed.
The FTC knows about this scam because a gentleman in Pennsylvania was smart enough to take it to his bank, and together, they reported it to the FTC. The letter said his online and financial activities put him under suspicion of money laundering and terrorism. And now, all his “activities will be under review.”
According to Ms. Vaca, their best guess is that this letter was just the first part of a scam. The second part will probably involve “urgent” phone calls telling people to send money right away. Now, though, you can spot the scam. Here’s what to know to protect you against government imposters like these:
- The FTC will never send a letter like this, and they’ll never threaten you.
- The FTC does write back to people who write to them, and they sometimes send letters about a refund from a case. They’ll never ask you to pay anything or give personal info to collect your funds. You can find more about FTC refunds at gov/redress.
- No government agency will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or bitcoin. Anyone who does that is a scammer.
Find out more about imposter scams of all sorts at ftc.gov/imposters.
If you get a letter from the FTC, they want to know about it. Before you do anything else, please call the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).
If you need assistance with understanding any aspects of government impersonator scams, contact the nearest Seniors Vs. Crime office in The Villages for advice or assistance. Seniors vs. Crime also has a Speakers Bureau that will gladly come to your club, church or group to speak about scams. To schedule a presentation, contact any of the offices. There is never a charge for their services. Seniors Vs. Crime can be reached at:
- The Fruitland Park Police Department Annex in the Moyer Recreation Center in The Villages – (352) 674-1882
- The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages – (352) 753-7775
- The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages – (352) 689-4600, Extension 4606
- The Wildwood Police Department Annex at Brownwood in The Villages – (352) 753-0727
During this pandemic, our offices are closed for walk-in complaints. You can file online or by calling 1-800-203-3099. Our staff will call you back and you can file your complaint over the phone.
Please call before you come to our offices. Hours may vary or may require appointments.
Volunteers’ at all four offices are ready, willing and able to assist you. To keep up with the latest scams, LIKE ‘Seniors vs. Crime Region 4’ on Face Book. Hablamos Español. Por favor pregunte por Yolanda. Martes a Viernes: 10:00 A.M. a 2:00 P.M., (352) 689 4606.