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Thread: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

  1. #1
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    FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Link to the FTC Article


    FTC Consumer Alert




    • Email


    FTC Warns of Oil Spill Scams

    It’s no secret that scam artists follow the headlines, and the daily news of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is no exception. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, cautions consumers and businesses to be on the alert for fraudulent activity related to the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the resulting spill – and to report their experiences to federal and state authorities. British Petroleum (BP) leased the rig, which was owned and operated by Transocean.
    The FTC says it’s likely that scammers will use e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, flyers, mailings and telephone calls to make contact and solicit money. Some may claim they’re raising money for environmental causes or offer fraudulent services – like remediation services – related to the oil spill. Others may claim they can expedite loss claims for a fee. Still others may knock on your door and talk about placing booms or checking for oil on your property. Chances are they’re trying to gain your trust to get inside your home or get access to your personal information.
    The FTC says that at the very least, you will want to do some homework before making a donation or entering into an agreement for services.

    Regarding Claims


    • Expect some scam artists to pose as authorized adjusters and ask for fees to expedite services. ESIS, BP’s authorized claims administrator, is not charging individuals or companies any fee to process claims. If you make a claim, you are assigned a claims number through the BP hotline at 1-800-440-0858. An authorized ESIS adjuster will contact you to further verify and process the claim for payment. If you are not satisfied with the resolution, you should call the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) at 1-800-280-7118, or visit the NPFC for more information at: www.uscg.mil/npfc/Claims/default.asp
    • Expect other scam artists to pretend to be government officials – and then require a processing fee to provide government services. The government does not require processing fees.

    Regarding Insurance



    • Verify that you are dealing with authorized representatives of BP, and don’t sign waivers of liability too quickly without getting adequate legal and financial counsel.
    • Report anyone who is making false or exaggerated insurance claims to your state insurance commissioner.
    • Report anyone who is making insurance claims but lives outside the disaster zone.

    Regarding Contractors


    • Don’t do business with contractors who require up-front payment for services: You will be out the money if they fail to perform the work or finish the job to your specifications or satisfaction.
    • Require any contractors you use to detail the services they will perform on a written contract.
    • Use only licensed contractors.

    Regarding Donations to Charities



    • Some people may misrepresent an affiliation with an environmental organization when they ask for donations via e-mail or social networking sites. If you’re tempted to contribute, check out the charity at www.bbb.org/us/charity, the website of the Better Business Bureau.
    • Some sham organizations may use copy-cat names to cash in on the reputations of older, more established charities.
    • Rather than clicking on a link to a purported website, verify the legitimacy of a nonprofit organization by using search engines and other online resources to confirm the group’s existence, history, mission and nonprofit status.
    • To ensure your contributions are received and used for the purposes you intend, contribute directly to organizations you know rather than relying on other people to make a donation on your behalf.
    • If you get pressure to make a contribution, look for another charity. Reputable charities don’t use those kinds of tactics.
    • Avoid donating cash if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity.
    • If an organization suggests you wire your donation to them, cross them off your list. Legitimate charities usually do not solicit donations via money transfer services.
    • Most legitimate charities websites end in .org rather than .com. For more information on the warning signs of a charity scam, visit www.ftc.gov/charityfraud.

    Regarding Employment and Volunteer Opportunities


    • Avoid any job or volunteer opportunities that require you to pay a fee before the job begins.

    For More Information


    For updates on the oil spill, visit usa.gov. Enter “Gulf Oil Spill” in the search field.
    Where to File a Complaint

    If you suspect that someone is committing fraud related to the oil spill, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF). Call: 1-866-720-5721; email: disaster@leo.gov; or fax: 225-334-4707. The NCDF was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or
    man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FTC, participate in the NCDF.

    To File a Complaint

    The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
    May 2010

  2. #2
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    Re: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Good to know. I have a good friend on Facebook who recently asked everyone on her friends list to send her $30 for a t-shirt, proceeds to go to the "Gulf Victims". When nobody coughed up the money, she became enraged at us. Thing is, she's in Alaska, and doesn't have a charity set up, and the t-shirts don't exist (only an image of the proposed artwork on the tee).
    Very odd behavior from a person I've known since elementary school.

  3. #3
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    Re: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Same thing happened with The Haiti earthquake regarding charitable donations.

  4. #4
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    Re: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Quote Originally Posted by walksthedogs View Post
    Good to know. I have a good friend on Facebook who recently asked everyone on her friends list to send her $30 for a t-shirt, proceeds to go to the "Gulf Victims". When nobody coughed up the money, she became enraged at us. Thing is, she's in Alaska, and doesn't have a charity set up, and the t-shirts don't exist (only an image of the proposed artwork on the tee).
    Very odd behavior from a person I've known since elementary school.
    Howdy walksthedogs, I'm glad you found us. :)

    There are a number of companies that sell various "promotional" materials like tee shirts, coffee mugs and the like, online and on demand. You upload an images, chose colors and text and if they charge, say $25 for a custom shirt they'll send you $3 for every one you sell. Now we could design a bunch of "Save Haiti Earth Quake Victims from Flowing Oil Slicks" shirts, mugs and baseball caps and if we marketed them efficiently we could perhaps turn some profit. If we promised to use that money for a noble purpose I suppose we could, but if we never registered as a charity or non-profit agency, people would only have our word on it as far as were the money went.

    And that's why the FTC notice mentions the need to verify the organization you consider donating to. Not all people making noble claims have honest intentions. Too bad about your friend, I'm sure she' have tried to do the right thing with any money she made off the shirts, but direct donations to accredited non-profits would surely yield a better return for any dollar given.

  5. #5
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    Thumbs down Re: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Here's a stupid idea.

    South Florida Brothers Selling Oil Spill Souvenirs

    South Florida Brothers Selling Oil Spill Souvenirs | NBC Miami

    "Some people are like, 'who really wants that?'" said Jeffrey Shiffman. "Well, we don't really know who wants it."

    But they're about to find out. A two ounce bottle goes for $9.99 on oilspillwater.com. It's real oil and real ocean water, just not from the Gulf. It's a "simulation" of the spill.

    At first, they were using samples of crude oil from the Gulf, but shipping was expensive. And since all profits go to three organizations dedicated to cleaning up the gulf, they decided to switch to used motor oil.

  6. #6
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    Re: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Such a shame that people have this sort of mentality.

    Just think, all that time spent on thinking of a get rich quick scam couldve been spent focusing on figuring out a way to make that money legitimately and probably could've made more money.
    No time for love, Doctah Jones

  7. #7
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    Re: FTC Warns of Oil Spil Scams

    Never let a crisis go to waste if you're a multi-level marketing company (especially if you're in a downward spiral):

    ADA, Okla., July 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Like the plume of oil spreading from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon incident, confusion and uncertainty are swirling around the Gulf Coast region, particularly the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. With thousands of coastal residents searching for answers to legal questions about their rights and potential claims against BP, Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (NYSE: PPD) members (customers) have some comfort in knowing they are only a phone call away from legal counsel from their local market PPD provider law firm.

    "The Gulf oil spill has created a toxic environment, not only within the waters of Gulf of Mexico, but also in the communities where citizens are searching for practical answers from trusted legal counsel," Stonecipher said. "PPD members can turn to our provider attorneys knowing the services offered under the Pre-Paid Legal plan will be personal, practical and proven. The value of this service during a time of crisis can't be over stated," he said.
    Pre-Paid Legal Services Provider Law Firms Assist Members in Gulf States Affected by... -- ADA, Okla., July 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

    Now those members may finally learn how limited the coverage actually is with PPL, without incurring "discounted" additional fees.
    A half-truth is a whole lie.

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