(BPT) - National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is a time to raise awareness around consumer rights and to be protected from frauds and scams. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, alongside the Federal Trade Commission and other collaborators, provide tools and resources to help consumers better protect themselves from fraud. As part of NCPW, each agency alerts consumers to different fraud or scams that are on the rise. This year, Postal Inspectors are warning consumers about 'Work-from-Home' scams.
In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel Data Book lists 'Business and Job Opportunities' as its fifth most reported consumer complaint nationally, with losses totaling $206 million. The figure highlights the continued need to alert consumers to this most important fact: 'Anyone can be a victim of a scam, with the right pitch,' said Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale. 'That's why prevention is one of our most important pillars in the mission to protect consumers and bring fraudsters to justice.'
While the job market is ever changing, the coronavirus pandemic, accompanied by the rise in digital and online technologies, created a perfect atmosphere for criminals to target consumers with fraudulent remote job opportunities.
Postal Inspectors report many of these job offers target consumers with clever wording on social media or listed on websites where legitimate job offers usually don't appear. Oftentimes they start with a hook, such as 'be your own boss' or 'make $1,000 per week from home!'
Consumers should look out for these red flags:
- Guaranteed jobs with little or no work experience
- Hired on the spot with no interview
- Minimal details provided
- Requested to move money around
So how do you protect yourself from these Work-From-Home Scams?
- Never send money to unknown individuals for employment.
- Don't deposit checks into your bank account as part of your job description or open a bank account for someone you don't know.
- Check directly with the company to certify its legitimacy.
- Obtain a job offer in writing.
- Verify a potential employer by checking the Better Business Bureau, your state's Attorney General's Office, and your state's consumer affairs office.
- Confirm any unexpected compensation to determine whether a check or money order is valid.
For more fraud prevention tips, visit http://www.uspis.gov/ncpw-2022. If you are a victim, or have witnessed a mail-related crime, alert Postal Inspectors by calling 877-876-2455.