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Data Spotlight: FTC reporting back to you

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Scammers are all about spinning lies, but they still operate in the real world. Many scammers pretend to be well-known businesses to gain trust and make their stories seem more believable.[1],[2]And scammers use real-world methods to contact people and to get paid. Reports to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network point to some of their favorites.

Let’s start with the most-impersonated companies. According to 2023 reports, Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Amazon, and PayPal top that list. But reported losses tell a different story: losses were highest when scammers impersonated Microsoft and Publishers Clearing House.[3] The scammers impersonating these businesses work in very different ways. For example, phony Geek Squad emails tell you that a computer service you never signed up for is about to renew – to the tune of several hundred dollars. Microsoft impersonation scams start with a fake security pop-up warning on your computer with a number to call for “help.”[4] And calls from the fake Publishers Clearing House say you’ll have to pay fees to collect your (fake) sweepstakes winnings.


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