Identity theft involves a crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data to open fraudulent credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, withdraw funds from deposit accounts, or obtain new loans. A victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses but also substantial costs to restore credit history and to correct erroneous information in their credit reports.
Frauds and scams defraud millions of people every year, often starting with an e-mail, text message, or phone message that appears to be from a legitimate, trusted organization. The message typically asks consumers to verify or update personal information. Similarly, criminals create bogus websites for such things as credit repair services in the hopes that consumers will enter personal information.
Reporting fraud promptly improves your chances of recovering what you have lost and helps law enforcement authorities stop scams before others are victimized. If you are the victim of a scam and you suspect a law has been violated, contact your (http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.shtml) state, local, or federal consumer protection agency. The agency you contact first may take action directly or refer you to another agency better positioned to protect you. Also, a local law enforcement officer may be able to provide advice and assistance.
Violations of federal laws should be reported to the federal agency responsible for enforcement. Complaints are used to document patterns of abuse, allowing the agency to act against a company.
People who have no intention of delivering what is sold, who misrepresent items, send counterfeit goods or otherwise try to trick you out of your money are committing fraud. If you suspect fraud, there are some additional steps to take.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (Opens in New Window). The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- Scams that used the mail or interstate delivery service should also be reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It is illegal to use the mail to misrepresent or steal money.