You know those awkward moments around the holiday table when you can’t think of anything to say – the Federal Trade Commission has a suggestion for you – avoid risky topics, like bragging about your favorite football team, and talk about the importance of cybersecurity.
For example, since 2015, the FTC has received 163,000 fraud reports from military retirees and veterans; nearly 13,000 from active duty service members; and three million from civilians. Of these fraud reports, 12% of retirees and veterans reported a financial loss from the fraud – lower than the 16% of active duty service members reporting a loss and the 14% of civilians who reported a loss.
Startlingly, the median loss for military retirees and veterans is $950. Compare that to the median loss for active duty service members ($775) and for civilians ($658).
The median loss for veterans is 23% higher than current service members – and 44% higher than that for other civilians. However, the FTC is eager to assist!
The FTC shares advice on a variety of known scams to prevent individuals from becoming victims of cyber-crime, identity theft, privacy intrusions, online fraud and more. Your cybersecurity conversation is guaranteed to have wide appeal with your holiday tablemates, whether it’s your 12 year-old cousin, an expert gamer, or your elderly uncle researching the family genealogy.
Sharing what you know can protect someone who you know from fraud, the FTC says. That’s why the FTC created Pass it On – offering articles, presentations, bookmarks, activities and videos – to get people talking about scams. Now, Pass it On has an updated website with four new topics:
-- Work-at-home scams – simply said, don’t spend money to earn money.
-- Home repair scams – before starting repairs, get three written estimates and proof of business license and insurance.
-- Unwanted calls – if this isn’t a conversation starter, I don’t know what is. In October alone, Americans received 5.7 billion robocalls, according to a report from robocall-blocking app YouMail. These calls are more than an irritant; scammers often pitch high-pressure sales and fraudulent schemes. Remind your fellow holidaymakers to just hang up and don’t trust caller ID. It can be faked. Ask your carrier about call blocking – or consider buying a call blocking device as a holiday gift.
-- Money mule scams – occur when someone sends you money and asks you to send it on to someone else. Bottom line: You could be what law enforcement agencies call a money mule. Don’t do it. You could lose money and get into legal trouble, the FTC advises.
The FTC says, this holiday season, when you pass the turkey; pass on your knowledge about cybersecurity and fraudulent schemes.
If you are an active or retired service member, the FTC wants to hear about your experiences in cases involving fraud. If you spot a scam, tell the FTC. When you do, you’ll also be telling more than 2,300 law enforcers who are members of the Consumer Sentinel Network.
The Federal Trade Commission protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. It conducts investigations, sues companies and people that violate the law, developa rules to ensure a vibrant marketplace. The FTC aims to educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. It collects complaints about hundreds of issues from data security and deceptive advertising to identity theft and Do Not Call violations, and makes them available to law enforcement agencies worldwide for investigation. Its experienced and motivated staff uses 21st century tools to anticipate – and respond to – changes in the marketplace.