The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that swindlers are enticing people with this sales pitch: There is currently money available NOW right here in your area, to help pay your bills. The pitch comes via ads, websites, phone calls, text messages, and visits from salespeople. The scammers charge a fee and ask for your credit card number or other personal information, and instruct you on how to use bank account and routing numbers to pay your bills online, or print checks to pay in person or by mail. But it’s a fraud. If you use account numbers provided by these rip-off artists, you’ll lose your “fee,” you’ll still owe your bills, and you could become a victim of identity theft.
To learn more about this scam, how to report it, and what to do if you fell for it, read the new Consumer Alert created by the FTC and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: “Free Money” from the Government: Variations on a Scheme.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.