The digital age gives con artists an array of new ways to take advantage of trusting people.
International Fraud Awareness Week, which is Nov. 13 through 19, aims to help minimize attempted rip-offs - including unscrupulous practices on social media and the Internet - by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.
Hillsborough County's Consumer & Veterans Services supports the week's designation, and offers these insights to ponder as it unfolds:
Monday, Nov. 14
New rules enforced by the Federal Communication Commission give consumers more choices about how their Internet service providers use and share their personal information. Learn more about the providers' duty for disclosure, and your right to opt out.
Tuesday, Nov. 15
Every day is Halloween for criminals. Scammers pose as charities, debt collectors, government agents, health insurers, and employers. An imposter's goal is to get your money. Even veterans transitioning to civilian life are targeted. Learn more here.
Wednesday, Nov. 16
How well do you really know that cyber-soulmate? Online dating is risky business but more prevalent than ever. Romance scammers often create phony profiles with fake names, photographs, and false stories to gain your trust - and your money. Can you recognize an online heartbreaker?
Thursday, Nov. 17
Tax identity theft occurs when someone files a phony tax return in your name and with your Social Security number. Scammers even might use your identity to get a job, or claim your child as a dependent. Victims should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490, or reach out to the Federal Trade Commission for recovery assistance.
Friday, Nov. 18
Consumers and Veterans with credit card debts often are targets of scammers promising easy debt relief. They charge large fees up front, obstensively to negotiate with creditors, but provide no results. Similar deceptions lure consumers into buying services to remove negative credit reports, or to process auto loan modifications which reduce payments or avoid repossession. Try this free test-drive to avoid bogus credit scams.
Consumer & Veterans Services is holding two Open Houses - on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and Wednesday, Nov. 16 - at the Brandon Regional Service Center and SouthShore Regional Service Center, respectively, for discussions of its services and programs. For more information and reservations email RyanM@HCFLGov.net, or call (813) 635-8316.