Fraudsters swindle millions of US consumers every year, using elaborate schemes and new technology to lure people to release their personal information or send money. They can be so convincing that it is difficult to identify valid and bogus transactions. The Federal Trade Commission offers a free scam alert service that may be useful in pinpointing fraudulent communications, but there are additional ways you can protect yourself from consumer fraud. Safeguard your financial interests by following these tips and consulting with a Clearwater consumer fraud and collections lawyer if you do suffer losses.
Imposters often pose as people you trust, such as government employees, charity volunteers, a family member, or a business partner. If you did nothing to initiate the contact, you should always be suspicious of any communications. At one time, phone calls were the primary way channel for consumer fraud. These days, be wary of any message through text, fax, email, or social media.
Do Your Homework
Before turning over any funds or information, get online and do some research regarding the company that contacted you. Use the entity’s name in connection with keywords like “complaint,” “fraud,” or “scam.” Go over the search results carefully to determine whether the company is legitimate.
Never Deposit an Unsolicited Check
If someone sends you a check, you usually expect it in connection with personal or business transactions. When you receive one under questionable circumstances or from someone you do not know, do not cash it. By obtaining any funds from the check, you could enter into an unintended financial relationship with the sender. There are usually conditions attached and you could go through considerable hassles to get out of the contractual relationship.
Hang Up on Electronic Phone Calls
Robocalls are illegal, but the laws do not stop all fraudsters from employing them. If you pick up the phone to an electronic sales message, hang up immediately. Avoid any instructions provided in the message, as any interaction – even pressing a button to end the call – could lead to additional communications.
Listen to Your Gut
When in doubt, let your instincts guide you. If a transaction, message, request, demand, or other exchange seems dubious, it probably is some type of consumer scam. You can also talk to family members, friends, co-workers, and other individuals you trust. These people can be effective resources if you are not comfortable with searching the internet. A lawyer is also a valuable asset, so consider consulting with a legal professional who can do the research and take action as necessary to protect your rights.
Get Legal Help from a Florida Consumer Fraud and Collections Attorney
If you have questions about a suspicious transaction or communication that may point to consumer fraud, our team at Clearwater Business Law can help. Our Florida business litigation lawyers are knowledgeable in the various scams fraudsters use to cheat people out of money or obtain valuable personal information. Please contact our office at (727) 785-5100 to schedule a consultation. We serve consumers in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and throughout Pinellas County, FL, and we look forward to working with you.