Refund / Recovery Scams
You lost money in a scam, and now another scammer says they can get it back for you!
It's bad enough losing money to a scammer, but now it gets worse. Once you have been scammed, the scammers often but your contact information on a list of victims, so they can then call or email you, and act as though they are part of a company, organization or government agency that can get some or all of your money back for you, if only you pay them a fee upfront!
How do you get on the scammer's list?
Sometimes you know you were scammed; you buy a product and it never arrives. But other times you might not know that prize promotion, charity drive or business opportunity was a scam. But if you have unknowingly paid money to such a scam, chances are your name is on a "sucker list." That list may include your address, phone numbers, and other information, like how much money you've spent responding to phony offers.
Scammers buy and sell "sucker lists" figuring that people who have been scammed once are likely to be scammed again. These crooks may call you promising to recover the money you lost or the prize or merchandise you never received - for a fee in advance.
That's against the law. The Telemarketing Sales Rule, prohibits cost recovery firms from asking for payment until 7 business days after they have delivered the money or other item they recovered to you.
How do refund and recovery scams work?
The scammers promise that, for a fee or a donation to a specific charity, they will recover the money you lost, or the prize or product you never received. They use a variety of lies to make their pitch sound more believable. They may:
- claim to represent companies or government agencies;
- say they're holding money for you;
- offer to file necessary complaint paperwork with government agencies on your behalf; or
- claim they can get your name at the top of a list for victim reimbursement.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency discredits these claims. Federal and local government agencies and consumer organizations don't charge a fee. Nor do they guarantee to get your money back, or give special preference to anyone who files a formal complaint.
Tips to help you avoid losing money to a recovery scam:
- Don't believe anyone who calls offering to recover money, merchandise, or prizes you never received if the caller says you have to pay a fee in advance.
- If someone claims to represent a government agency that will recover your lost money, merchandise, or prizes for a fee or a donation to a charity, report them immediately to the FTC.
- National, state, and local consumer protection agencies and nonprofit organizations do not charge for their services.
- Before you use any company to recover either money or a prize, ask what specific services the company provides and the cost of each service.
- Check out the company with local government law enforcement and consumer agencies; ask whether other people have registered complaints about the business.
- Google the company name to look for complaints.
- Don't give out your credit card or checking account numbers in an attempt to recover money you have lost or a prize you never received.
Remember, no reputable business would send you an email or a phone call requesting your personal account information. Any such email you receive asking for this information should be considered phony and brought to the attention of the business being 'phished'.
Anytime you need to go to a website for your bank, credit card companies or other personal, financial or confidential information; do not follow a link in an email; just type their address in your browser directly
Recommendations- What to do:
- Only open email or IM attachments that come from a trusted source and that are expected
- Use an anti-virus/anti-spam package (we recommend Norton 360 or Norton Internet Security scan all attachments prior to opening. Click here to see Norton 360 2013 on Amazon.com .
- Delete the messages without opening any attachments
- Do not click on links in emails that come from people you do not know and trust, even if it looks like it comes from a company you know.
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date
- Keep your operating system up to date with current security patches. Click here for an article that describes how to do this.
And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive. We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!
- 16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule; Notification of Termination of Caller ID Rulemaking Federal Register Notice (December 20, 2013)
- 16 C.F.R. Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule Fees; Final Rule Updating the Fees Charged to Entities Accessing the National Do Not Call Registry (August 30, 2013)
- 16 CFR Part 310: Telemarketing Sales Rule: Federal Register Notice Containing Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Soliciting Public Comment on Proposed Amendments to the Rule (July 9, 2013)