On Oct. 22, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched ReportFraud.FTC.gov, a new consumer-friendly fraud-reporting portal. Consumers can report anything from government imposter scams to phony weight-loss claims, abusive debt collection, and deceptive auto sales, along with all sorts of unwanted phone calls, text messages, and emails. And the FTC wants to hear about them all! Please help us spread the word and keep Washingtonians safe from scams.
The new site guides consumers through steps based on the type of fraud they are reporting. After reporting, consumers are given tailored educational information about the next steps they can take to protect themselves. This information will be specific to the kind of report that consumers make. Also, if consumers wish to update a report later, they will be given a report number to do so. Consumers can continue to report and get recovery plans for identity theft at identitytheft.gov.
ReportFraud.FTC.gov also gives consumers options for how to report concerning scams. Consumers can report in multiple languages: Spanish at ReporteFraude.FTC.gov; and also French, German, Korean, Japanese, Polish, or Turkish at the Commission’s econsumer.gov website. If consumers have questions, the system has a live chat feature, or they can make reports by phone through the FTC Consumer Response Center, 877-FTC-HELP (4357). Consumers who prefer to make their report anonymously can do so (but they won’t be able to update the report later).
Once a report is made through ReportFraud.FTC.gov, it is sent into the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network. The FTC and its more than 3,000 law enforcement partners across the country and around the world use Consumer Sentinel to fight back against scams. The reports are not public and are never used to contact businesses about individual reports. Rather, aggregated consumer reports are used to build law enforcement actions against bad actors. In addition, reports empower the Commission to educate consumers, businesses, and government agencies about novel or surging types of fraud.
In 2019, the previous reporting portal received more than 3.2 million reports of consumer fraud in 2019 alone. Washingtonians accounted for nearly 50,000 of those reports, with imposter scams being the most common type of fraud reported. You can learn more about the most common reports in the country, state, or metro area on the FTC’s website.
Protecting Washingtonians—particularly the most vulnerable consumers—is a team sport. Filing a report with the FTC and seeking help from a private attorney are not mutually exclusive. This new site is a shared toolbox and can help us fight back against scammers and unscrupulous businesses. Please help spread the word and consider linking on your personal or organizational social media/website to ReportFraud.FTC.gov using the images, videos, and social media badges available at ReportFraud.FTC.gov/Partners.
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Commission or of any individual commissioner.