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Consumer Protection All Year Round

Earlier in March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Chelsea Groton Bank celebrated National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). NCPW is a time when government agencies, consumer protection groups, and organizations like Chelsea Groton work together to share information about consumer rights. Check out some resources and tips to help you learn – and teach others – how to spot, avoid, and report related frauds and scams that can affect your financial well-being now and in the future.

Credit Report

Whether you’re eyeing that dream home, planning for a new car, or simply aiming for financial freedom, knowing how to navigate the credit landscape is very important. Understanding the basics of credit, familiarizing yourself with common terminology, and establishing credit, along with knowing your rights as a consumer, and how your credit report and credit score work, will help you as you prepare for future purchases.

To get started, read Getting Started with Credit from Chelsea University or attend one of our Power of Credit classes in person or via Zoom. Our next class is on Thursday, March 21st in Hartford!

Buying or Renting a Home

Sometimes, in the excitement and nerves of looking to find a home, a potential renter or buyer could be more susceptible to falling for scams, and scammers know this. The FTC has shared several scams to be on the lookout for while you’re on your next house hunt. To learn more about scams you should be aware of, check out our article here!

Spotting a Scam

Recognizing common signs of a scam could help you avoid one. Here are four signs from the FTC that something is likely a scam:

  1. Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know, such as a government agency, utility company, or charity. Phone numbers can be spoofed to seem like it’s a legitimate call.
  2. Scammers say there’s a problem or a prize. They may say you’re in trouble with the government, there’s a virus on your computer, there’s a problem with your account, or you won money but have to pay a fee to get it.
  3. Scammers pressure you to act immediately. They want you to act before you have time to think. They will use threatening language to scare you into acting without looking into their story more.
  4. Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. They often insist you only pay by using cryptocurrency, wiring money, using a payment app, or putting money on a gift card and then giving them the numbers on the back of the card.

How to Avoid a Scam

  1. Block unwanted calls or texts.
  2. Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate businesses will not call, email, or text you to ask for personal information. If you get an email or text from a company, don’t click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy or look up their phone number and call them.
  3. Resist the pressure to act immediately. Honest businesses will give you time to make a decision. If you are getting pressured to pay or give them your personal information, they are a scammer.
  4. Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you can only pay with cryptocurrency, a wire transfer service, a payment app, or a gift card. Never deposit a check and send the money back to someone.
  5. Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything, tell someone – a friend, a family member, a neighbor – what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

Report Scams to the FTC

If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. In addition to reporting the scam to the FTC, be sure to call your bank and alert them to be on the lookout for fraudulent activity. Also, change the usernames and passwords on the accounts that scammers may have access to.

Scammers target everyone, in any language. But research and experience show that talking about scams helps us avoid them. Start a conversation to share what you learned about how to spot, avoid, and report scams. Maybe even reach out to someone who might need a little extra help or information.