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FTC Names Dirty Dozen Email Scams

Posted on January 6, 2020 by Manuel Yoon

The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for issuing and enforcing rules for customer issues online. As part of the process, the FTC has published a list of the 12 scams you are most likely to get as email.

Business opportunities

These business opportunities make it sound easy to start a business that will bring lots of income without much work or cash outlay. The solicitations trumpet unbelievable earnings claims $1,000 per day or more without doing any work. Many business opportunity solicitations claim to offer a way to generate money in an Internet-related enterprise. Short on details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a phone number to call to find out more. Oftentimes, you will be told to leave your name and phone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch.

The scam: Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate opportunities to earn money.

Bulk email

Bulk email solicitations offer to sell you lists of email addresses, by the millions, to which you can send your own bulk solicitations. Some offer software that automates the sending of email messages to thousands or millions of recipients. Others offer the service of sending bulk email solicitations on your behalf. Some of these offers say, or imply, that you can produce a whole lot of money using this marketing system.

The scam: Sending bulk email violates the terms of service of most Internet providers. If you use one of the automated email programs, your ISP may shut you down. Additionally, inserting a false return address into your solicitations, as some of the automated programs let you do, may land you in legal hot water with the owner of the address's domain name. Additionally, there are quite strict rules, referred to as the CAN-SPAM Act, regulating bulk email advertising.

Chain letters

You are asked to send a little bit of money ($5 to $20) to each of four or five names on a list, replace one of the titles on the list with your own, and then forward the revised message via bulk email. The letter may claim that the scheme is valid, that it has been reviewed or approved by the authorities; or it may refer to sections of U.S. law that legitimize the scheme.

The scam: Chain letters are almost always illegal and almost all the men and women who participate lose their cash. The fact that a"product" such as a report on the best way best to earn money quickly may be changing hands in the transaction doesn't change the legality of these schemes.

Work-at-home schemes

Envelope-stuffing solicitations promise steady income for minimal labor-for instance, you'll earn $2 each time you fold a brochure and seal it in an envelope. Craft assembly work schemes often require an investment of hundreds of dollars in equipment or supplies, and lots of hours of your time producing goods for a company that has promised to buy them.

The scam: You'll pay a small fee to begin in the envelope-stuffing enterprise. Then, you'll learn that the email sender never had real employment to offer. Alternatively, you will get instructions on how best to send the identical envelope-stuffing advertisement on your own. If you earn any money, it'll be from others who fall for the scheme you're perpetuating.

Health and diet scams

Pills that let you lose weight without exercising or changing your diet, herbal formulas that liquefy your fat cells so that they're absorbed by your body, and cures for impotence and hair loss are among the scams flooding email boxes.

The scam: These gimmicks do not work. The simple fact is that successful weight loss requires a decrease in calories and an increase in physical activity. Beware of case histories from "cured" consumers claiming amazing results and testimonials from "famous" medical experts you've never heard of.

Effortless income

The trendiest get-rich-quick schemes offer unlimited profits exchanging money on world currency markets; newsletters describing many different easy-money chances; the perfect sales letter; and the key to making $4,000 in one day.

The scam: If these systems worked, would not everyone be using them? The notion of easy money may be appealing, but success generally requires hard work.

Free products

Some email messages offer valuable goods-for example, computers, other electronic items, and long distance phone cards-for free. You are asked to pay a fee to join a club, then told that to earn the offered goods, you need to bring in a certain number of participants. You are paying for the right to earn income by recruiting other participants, but your payoff is in goods, not money.

The scam: Most of these messages are covering up pyramid schemes, operations that inevitably collapse. The payoff goes to the promoters and little or none to you.

Investment opportunities

Investment schemes promise outrageously high rates of return with no risk.

Many are Ponzi schemes, in which early investors are paid off with money contributed by later investors. This makes the early investors believe that the system actually works, and encourages them to invest even more.

The scam: Ponzi schemes eventually collapse because there is not enough money coming in to continue simulating earnings. Other schemes are a great investment for the promoters, but no for participants.

Cable descrambler kits

For a little amount of money, you can purchase a kit to assemble a cable descrambler that supposedly allows you to receive cable television transmissions without paying any subscription fee.

The scam: The device that you build probably won't work. The majority of the cable TV systems in the U.S. use technology that these devices can not crack. What is more, even if it worked, stealing service from a cable television company is illegal.

Guaranteed loans or credit, on easy terms

Some email messages offer home-equity loans which don't require equity in your residence. Usually, these are said to be offered by offshore banks. Sometimes they are combined with pyramid schemes, which provide you an chance to generate money by attracting new participants to the plan.

The scams: The home equity loans turn out to be useless lists of lenders that can turn you down. The promised credit cards never come through, along with the pyramid schemes always collapse.

Credit repair

Credit repair scams offer to erase accurate negative information from your credit file so you can qualify for a credit card, auto loan, home mortgage, or even a job.

The scam: The scam artists who promote these services can not deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit score. The companies that advertise credit repair services appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. Not only can not they give you a clean credit record, but they also may be encouraging you to violate federal law. If you follow their advice by lying on a loan or credit application, misrepresenting your Social Security number, or getting an Employer Identification Number under false pretenses, you'll be committing fraud.

Vacation prize promotions

Electronic certificates congratulating you on "winning" a fabulous vacation for a very attractive price are among the scams arriving in your email. Some say you've been"specially selected" for this opportunity.

The scam: Most unsolicited commercial email goes to thousands or millions of recipients at one time. Often, the cruise ship you're booked on may look more like a tug boat. The hotel accommodations likely are shabby, and you might be asked to pay more for an update. Scheduling the vacation at the moment you need it also may require an additional charge.

In Closing

Do not check your common sense at the door only because you're surfing the internet. If it seems to good to be true, it is. Don't fall prey to these scams.