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Consumer Alerts & Cautions

Can You Spot a Scam?

Con artists are very good at tricking consumers into parting with money or divulging personal information that can be used to commit fraud. To help test people's knowledge about financial scams, the Fall 2010 issue of FDIC Consumer News, published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, features a quiz on common frauds and their warning signs. Other timely articles discuss FDIC insurance coverage, solutions to mortgage and other debt problems, "credit protection" offers, student loans, ways to save money at tax time, and automated overdraft payment programs.

Here's an overview of the topics, tips and information in the latest newsletter:

  • Can you spot a scam? The FDIC's seven-question quiz on frauds involves common scenarios, including transactions with strangers who pay by check, work-at-home solicitations, lost or stolen ATM and debit cards, offers to rescue a home from foreclosure, and e-mail requests for personal financial information. Each answer comes with additional information and guidance on how to learn more.
  • What to know about two key changes in FDIC insurance: There continues to be confusion over what has or hasn't changed recently with FDIC insurance coverage. The FDIC offers an overview of two key areas — the permanent increase in the basic coverage amount from $100,000 to $250,000, and the new, temporary insurance category that will fully insure all funds in checking accounts that pay no interest, regardless of the dollar amount.
  • Estate planning and FDIC-insured accounts: This article looks at different types of deposit accounts that can be used to pass funds on to heirs and how to make sure the money is fully insured if the bank fails.
  • Mortgage payment problems: The reminders and updates in this article center on refinancing opportunities and loan modifications available through the federal government, plus how to obtain help from a non-profit housing counselor and avoid foreclosure rescue frauds.
  • Dealing with debt overload: Borrowers who think they won't be able to make a loan payment need to work out a solution with their lender. One option is to find a reputable credit counselor who can help develop a personalized plan to solve the problems. The article also discusses protecting against scams and understanding consumer rights.
  • What to consider before buying credit protection. Credit card issuers and other lenders offer products that would postpone or make a borrower's loan payments in the event of a personal hardship, such as a death, illness or job loss. These products may provide security and peace of mind, but it's important to understand the costs, limitations and alternatives.
  • The latest on student loans: With college costs soaring and student loan debt at a record high, the newsletter offers an update on what families need to know about borrowing to pay for an education.
  • Tips for saving money at tax time: Moves to consider include using tax refunds to pay off high-interest debt or build up savings, avoiding costly loans arranged by tax preparers, and being on guard against tax-related frauds.
  • New guidance to banks on overdraft costs, usage: For the more than 4,700 institutions it supervises, the FDIC has issued guidance for close monitoring and oversight of overdraft payment programs, especially automated programs that can lead to excessive use and high costs for consumers.

The goal of FDIC Consumer News is to deliver timely, reliable and innovative tips and information about financial matters, free of charge. The Fall 2010 edition can be read or printed at


E-mails fraudulently claiming to be from the FDIC are attempting to get recipients to click on a link, which may ask them to provide sensitive personal information.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports from consumers who received an e-mail that has the appearance of being sent from the FDIC. The e-mail informs the recipient that "in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, federal, state and local governments…" the FDIC has withdrawn deposit insurance from the recipient's account "due to account activity that violates the Patriot Act." It further states deposit insurance will remain suspended until identity and account information can be verified using a system called "IDVerify." If consumers go to the link provided in the e-mail, it is suspected they will be asked for personal or confidential information, or malicious software may be loaded onto the recipient's computer.

This e-mail is fraudulent. It was not sent by the FDIC. It is an attempt to obtain personal information from consumers. Financial institutions and consumers should NOT access the link provided within the body of the e-mail and should NOT under any circumstances provide any personal information through this media.

The FDIC is attempting to identify the source of the e-mails and disrupt the transmission. Until this is achieved, consumers are asked to report any similar attempts to obtain this information to the FDIC by sending information to [email protected].

view the article on the FDIC website

Suspicious Telephone Calls Claiming to Be From the FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous reports of suspicious telephone calls where the caller claims to represent the FDIC and is calling regarding the collection of an outstanding debt.

To date, the callers have alleged that the call recipient is delinquent in payment of a loan that was applied for over the Internet or made through a payday lender. The loan may or may not actually exist. The caller attempts to authenticate the claim by providing sensitive personal information, such as name, Social Security number, and date of birth, supposedly taken from the loan application. The recipient is then strongly urged to make a payment over the phone to "avoid a lawsuit and possible arrest." In some instances, the caller is said to sound aggressive and threatening.

view the article on the FDIC website

FDIC Offers 10 Tips for Safe Online Banking, Bill Paying and Shopping

view the article on the FDIC website

2010 Census Cautions from the Better Business Bureau

**If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don't know into your home.

**Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census. Remember, no matter what they ask, you really only need to tell them now many people live at your address. While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range,you don't have to answer anything at all about your financial situation. The Census Bureau will not ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers nor will employees solicit donations. Anyone asking for that information should be reported to the authorities.


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