A recent scam identified by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that some people have received an e-mail that falsely claims to be from Maureen Ohlhausen, the FTC’s Acting Chairman. The e-mail is a scam to attempting to steal your financial information; the latest variation of an imposter scam. In 2016, consumers reported more complaints about imposter scams to the FTC than any other fraud The e-mail asks you to give your bank account information in order to receive money from the government’s settlement with Western Union. While the FTC is involved in a $586 million settlement with Western Union, the U.S. Department of Justice will run the refunds process. If you receive an e-mail like this, do not respond or click on any links. You can forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov. This e-mail is a good reminder that scammers are skilled liars, commonly claiming to be someone important or a close relative/friend in order to obtain your financial information – which they use to steal from your financial accounts or commit other crimes. The FTC shuts down scams and returns money to people who lost it due to dishonest or unfair business practices. The FTC will never ask for money, your Social Security number, or any banking information. The FTC will never collect money directly from consumers. If the FTC needs to send you money, checks are usually mailed.

The FTC urges consumers to be wary of any caller asking for a wire transfer (which is the most widely reported method of payment in fraud scams.) The government will not ask a consumer to wire money. It is illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire.

Wary consumers should take their time and verify information is legitimate. Check information with the government agency on a telephone line that you know is correct, not the phone number given by the suspicious caller.

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect yourself from imposter scams, speak with a Community Resource Specialist: (408) 350-3200, option 1.