The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been very successful in obtaining settlements with companies that have engaged in deceptive practices.  The even better news is that consumer refunds have often been a central part of those settlements.

So why beware?  Because scammers and thieves are using these excellent results to try and get consumers’ financial information.  How does it work?  Using robocalls, scammers leave messages telling consumers to go to a phony website so they can either get, or expedite, an FTC refund.  Consumers who go to the website are instructed to enter their bank account information into the attached form.  To make their website look even more legitimate, the scammers include the FTC’s real toll-free helpline number.

The FTC has an excellent alert about this scam, which can be found on their website (www.ftc.gov; “FTC Warns Consumers: Robocalls Touting Expedited FTC Refunds are Fake”). The phony website is: http://ftcrefund.com.  Here’s another clue showing it’s not a legitimate FTC website– it ends with “.com” rather than the “.gov”; the latter is what federal agencies use.

So do not go to the phony website!  The scammers take the consumer’s bank account information and use the personal and financial information for their own criminal purposes.

In its alert, the FTC cites to an FTC resource that provides consumers with information about how to obtain FTC refunds. I read the resource and it is very informative, with “Q’s and A’s” covering all of the needed information.  That resource is called “Getting Your Money Back: Consumer Refunds.”  In this resource, the FTC clearly states that “[t]he FTC does not call people to give out refunds or ask people for personal information to process refunds.”

Take a few minutes to read the FTC’s website.  You’ll learn many pro-active tips for protecting your personal and financial information.  By being better informed, consumers can help protect their personally identifying information against scammers and thieves.