It is important for everyone to understand what consumer fraud is and how to avoid it and protect from it. There are a variety of different types of consumer fraud that include scams and other efforts to obtain financial information or cash from consumers.
Advance fee fraud is one type of scam consumers can be vulnerable to. Advance fee fraud can include fees paid up front based on promises to send money, products and services; offers to participate in a special deal; requests for assistance removing funds from a country experiencing political turmoil; or requests for the consumer's assistance to help law enforcement catch thieves. Other types of fee fraud scams include Nigeran fraud, debt elimination fraud, cashier's check fraud, fictitious or unauthorized banking and high yield investment fraud.
Identity theft and phishing scams are another serious concern for consumers. Identity theft refers to when a person's identity, Social Security information or credit card information is used to commit fraud, obtain credit or to commit other crimes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is estimated that as many as 9 million Americans are the victims of identity theft each year. Phishing is the use of the internet to obtain someone's personal or financial information which can be done through an email or in other ways.
Consumer fraud is a serious concern which is why it is essential for members of the public to be familiar with what consumer fraud includes. It is also important to know the laws around consumer fraud and the protections available.