The Federal Trade Commission informed consumers today that some people have received emails claiming to be from Maureen Ohlhausen, Acting Chairman of the FTC – but it’s a scam. The email asks you to supply your bank account information so you can get money from the government’s settlement with Western Union.
“Unfortunately when agencies and organizations like the FTC do good work on behalf of consumers – scammers try to take advantage of their reputation,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “We always encourage consumers to think twice before responding to, or clicking on links from emails that seem wrong. Emails like this one may describe an unfamiliar refund process, or ask for money you didn’t think you owed. In situations like this, consumers should ignore the email and go directly to the FTC, or organization the scammer claims to be with, to confirm what is in the email.”
Consumers should be aware of these signs of an email scam:
- Quick writing with grammatical errors
- Strange looking links, especially those that don’t start with https://, or don’t end in a familiar way like .com, .org, or .gov
- With government email scams – an email not from a .gov email address
- Logos that look similar to a government logo or seal, but a little distorted
- The use of strong pressure tactics urging you to act now, or face consequences
- A topic you’re not expecting. Remember, if you don’t think you are owed money – or you don’t think you owe money to someone, you are probably correct.
What consumers can do if they receive an email they believe is a scam:
- Forward your spam email to the FTC at email@example.com
- Let the Department of Consumer Protection know you’ve received an email by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Let the organization, business, or agency that the scammer is impersonating know you’ve received the email
- Never click on any links in the email, or reply
- Never give out your personal information to an unfamiliar source online
If you receive this email – do not click on any links or respond to the email. Instead, you should forward it to the FTC at email@example.com. The FTC is involved in a $586 million settlement with Western Union, but the U.S. Department of Justice will run the refunds process, which hasn’t started yet.