Our mission is to give consumers the information they need to avoid becoming victims of telemarketing and Internet fraud and to help them get their complaints to law enforcement agencies quickly and easily.
What if my complaint isn’t about telemarketing or Internet fraud?
Contact your state or local consumer protection office for advice about where to direct your complaint.
What information do I need to make a complaint?
The more information you provide, the more law enforcement agencies have to work with.Please have the information at hand when you fill out the online fraud report form. The form requires the name of the seller or company involved. Your contact information is also required. We do not accept anonymous complaints. It isn’t necessary to have lost money to report a suspected scam, but if you did, the way that you paid and how you sent your payment is important information. In the description section of the form, explain exactly what happened, just as you would if you were telling the story to a friend. Be sure to provide any details that were not captured in other parts of the form.
I’m a seller and a buyer has ripped me off. Can I complain to Fraud.org?
No, but we do take reports about some business-to-business scams. See the Scams Against Businesses section of the Web site for more information.
How do I know that Fraud.org received my complaint?
Consumers who file a complaint via our online complaint form will receive a notification of the successful submission of their complaint when the complaint is submitted. A NCL staff member may contact you if there are questions about your complaint.
Can I add more information to my complaint after I submit it?
No. The information goes to law enforcement agencies too quickly. If an agency is interested in the problem and contacts you, you can supply additional information at that time.
Why do you ask for my year of birth?
Tracking what types of telemarketing and Internet scams are aimed at specific age groups helps the National Consumers League educate people about the fraudulent schemes they are most likely to encounter. Law enforcement agencies also need this information since the penalties that fraudulent companies face may depend on the ages of their victims.
What happens with my complaint?
The information you provide is automatically sent by electronic means to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. They will handle it just as if you had contacted them directly. Since most agencies cannot take legal action on every individual complaint, they look for patterns of fraud. That’s why it’s so important to report it. We can’t make any guarantees about what will happen, but we know that the information that consumers provide is essential for stopping fraud. Since we do not conduct the investigations, we cannot give you a status report. If an agency wants more information or has something to tell you, it will contact you directly.
How can I get my money back?
If law enforcement agencies take legal action, they try to recover victims’ money, but it’s not always possible. If you paid with a credit card or the money was debited from your bank account, you may be able to dispute the charges or debit. Contact your credit card issuer or bank immediately. If the charge was on your telephone bill, contact the company that sent you the bill to find out how you can dispute the charge. Some online auction sites have insurance that covers at least a portion of the loss in auction transactions. Read the terms and conditions of the insurance carefully before you bid.
Can I check with Fraud.org about a seller or company?
It’s a good idea to check the track record of someone you’re considering doing business with, but keep in mind that no complaints is no guaranty. Sometimes it takes a while for consumers to report problems, and fraudulent operators often move around or change their names. But a track record of unresolved complaints can be a danger sign of fraud. Because we don’t investigate consumers’ complaints ourselves, Fraud.org does not provide information to the public about specific sellers or companies that have been reported to us. Information may be available from the consumer agency and the Better Business Bureau in the area where you live and where the company is located. Check on national charities through the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance. Your state securities regulator is a good place to go for information about investment companies. Some online auction sites have feedback forums where people can report about their experiences with others.
How can I tell if something might be a scam?
In the other “Learn About Scams” sections, Fraud.org provides tips about telemarketing and Internet scams to help you determine whether something might be fraudulent. There is also special information about fraud against seniors and scams against businesses. In addition, there is a section on the Web site about counterfeit drugs. It’s probably a scam if someone:
Makes an offer that sounds too good to be true;
Promises that you can win money, make money, or borrow money easily;
Asks for money to enter a contest, win a sweepstakes or lottery, or claim a prize;
Refuses to send you written information before you agree to buy or donate;
Refuses to give you a physical address;
Refuses to give you the details of the offer before you make any payment;
Requests your bank account or credit card number when you are not making a purchase with that account;
Uses scare tactics or pressure to act immediately;
Insists that you wire money or have a courier pick up your payment;
Refuses to stop calling after you’ve asked not to be called again;
Contacts you to ask for personal information the company already has.
Gives you a check or money order and asks you to send some of the money somewhere.
What if I report something and it turns out not to be a scam?
Since Fraud.org does not make the information you provide publicly available, there is no harm in reporting something if you suspect it’s a scam but you’re not sure. Law enforcement agencies usually take legal action based on patterns of fraud, not one complaint, and only after investigating. Even if your problem is resolved after you reported it, the information can still be helpful to law enforcement agencies. It is not possible to withdraw a complaint from our system once it has been submitted.
Can I get a lawyer and sue the seller or company?
Depending on the amount of money you lost, you may be able to sue in Small Claims Court. This does not require an attorney and the filing costs are very low. Contact your local District Court for more information. If you need an attorney, you can find one to consult for free or a low fee through your county or state Bar Association. Because fraudulent companies are usually located in another state, or even another country, and considering the relatively small amount of loss (though it may be large to you), you may find that it is too costly and impractical to sue. Even if you do get a judgment in your favor, it could be difficult to collect.
How do I know if someone who says they want to help me is legitimate?
If someone calls you from a law enforcement agency and you have any doubts about them, ask for their name, the agency name, the address, and the telephone number, and tell them you’ll call back. Then get the telephone number for the agency from directory assistance or the Internet and call to confirm the person’s identity. Beware of any request for money – law enforcement agencies don’t ask for payment to help consumers, nor would they ask you for taxes or customs charges. Beware of “recovery services” that guarantee to get your money back for a fee, or someone claiming to be with a court or lawyer’s office who contacts you unsolicited and asks you to pay a fee to get money that is coming to you. These are common scams.
Someone I know is a victim of telemarketing or Internet fraud. What can I do?
Encourage the person to report the fraud and help them gather the necessary information. If the person is embarrassed about the problem, it might be easier for them to make a complaint online than by telephone. Or if you have the person’s permission, you can provide the information to Fraud.org. Never scold or ridicule fraud victims – remember that con artists are very skillful and anyone can be scammed. The Fraud Against Older Adults section provides advice for family members and others who work with older victims of telemarketing fraud. Share the information you have learned about how to recognize the danger signs of fraud so the person can avoid it in the future. Be aware that once people are victimized, they are more likely to be targeted again by fraudulent operators, so you may want to warn them and keep in touch.
I think I’m a victim of identity theft. Can I report that to Fraud.org?
Congress instructed the Federal Trade Commission to create a special clearinghouse for reports about identity theft. Call 877-ID-THEFT or use the ID theft report form on the FTC’s Identity Theft Website. You will also receive a booklet from the FTC with step-by-step instructions on what to do to clear your name. The National Consumers League offers advice about how to avoid becoming an ID theft victim.