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FDIC Consumer News - Spring 1998
|Hes Not From
Hes Not Going to Help You
Government agencies work hard to serve the American people and earn your trust. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people and companies who try to take advantage
|of this trust and take advantage of
consumers by tricking them into thinking theyre dealing with legitimate
government officials. We want you to beware of scams, deceptive marketing campaigns or
otherwise questionable activities that trade on the governments good name and
reputation. They include:
Charging a fee for services that are available free from the government. Common schemes involve writing or calling with claims of inside information and offers to help recover unclaimed property or get a refund from the government, for a fee, when all of that can be done at no charge by dealing directly with the agency involved.
Getting up-front payments for bogus offers. The files of the FDICs Office of Inspector General include the case of a Texas motorcycle dealer who was convicted for persuading people to invest millions in FDIC-owned luxury automobiles and corporate airplanes that did not exist. Other cases involve convictions against imposters who convinced home buyers to send them big down payments for special deals on real estate supposedly owned by the government.
Falsely claiming that goods or services are approved or backed by a government agency. Two examples phony banks that falsely advertise themselves as FDIC-insured and crooks who pretend to be bank examiners are described in other stories in this issue.
One way companies dupe consumers is by using a name or acronym that leads people to believe they are dealing with a government agency (although there are many legitimate and law-abiding companies or organizations with names similar to a government agency).
How can you protect yourself? Beware of unsolicited offers for deals that seem too good to be true and from a person or company claiming or appearing to be from the government. When in doubt, go to your phone book or another directory of government agencies and call to confirm the validity of the offer. Dont trust the phone number given to you otherwise. That could be part of the scam. Also consider contacting your state government (the consumer affairs office or attorney general listed in your phone book), the local Better Business Bureau (also in your phone book) or the Federal Trade Commissions Consumer Response Center (6th & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580, phone 202-326-3128 or e-mail). If youre suspicious about someone youre suspicious about someone claiming to represent the FDIC, call our Office of Inspector General toll-free at (800) 833-3310.
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