FTC to alert media on stimulus scams


Hard times often make it easier for scam artists to prey on those down on their luck, and we’re undergoing a period of hard times. The FTC is on high alert for the unscrupulous, and would like broadcasters to be on alert as well.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the topic. The scammers claim is that they can connect a citizen with government stimulus money in one way or another.

“To con artists, today’s challenging economy presents a golden opportunity — sadly, an opportunity to play on the economic distress of American consumers,” Leibowitz said.

The FTC has participated with the Department of Justice and state and local agencies to crack down on government grant scams, employment and work-at-home scams, advance-fee credit card scams, bogus debt relief services, and get-rich-quick schemes such as buying and selling foreclosed real estate.

Robocalls and the internet are typically used for such services, and on way the FTC catches on to scams in progress is to go on the web as a citizen would looking for an opportunity.

Education is a major tool to combat the scammers. In addition to getting local enforcement and social service agencies up to speed, the FTC is “alerting publishers and broadcasters to claims that can signal a rip-off, and providing public service announcements for the business opportunity section of newspapers’ classified ads.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The types of schemes in this crime genre do not really lend themselves to broadcast advertising, but they could crop up during daytime and late night when the audience broadcast audience is full of the unemployed. So beware!