The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers not to fall for a new scam in which crooks are impersonating the agency’s director in emails that request bank account information.
The e-mail claims to come from FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and asks for the recipient’s bank number to process a refund from a recent settlement with Western Union. While the FTC did recently reach a $586 million settlement with Western Union, the refund process hasn’t started yet.
The FTC does not ask for money, a Social Security number or banking information when processing refunds from settlements. The agency typically processes refunds with paper checks.
“This email is a good reminder that scammers are skilled liars,” FTC associate director for consumer and business education Nat Wood wrote in a post warning consumers about the scam. “They’ll say anything or claim to be anyone to get your financial information – then they’ll use it to steal from your financial accounts or commit other crimes.”
This is just the latest version of a common cheat. Last year, imposter scams like this one were the most common complaint to the FTC, more than any other type of fraud. If you get such an email, forward it to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not respond or click on any links in the email.
For more tips, the FTC offers 10 ways consumers can avoid fraud and scams.