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SAN FRANCISCO – Officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are reaching out to minority communities to protect them from falling victim to scammers.
Experts who fight fraud say immigrant communities, including many Filipinos, have been scammed into purchasing millions of dollars in fake services and worthless products.
The FTC said minorities have been defrauded through promises of services related to immigration, housing, health, debt collection, jobs and education.
"We have seen what we would call infinity scams and that’s where someone from your community who speaks Tagalog, who may have come from your village, or your family’s village and they may really try to promise you that you’re going to get some benefits. The important thing is don’t give money, don’t give money right away. Talk to someone about it," said Thomas Dahdouh, FTC Regional Director.
FTC Chairman Edith Ramirez added, "The most recent data that we made public is that in 2014, we had more than 1.5 million complaints relating to fraud, more than 250,000 came from California."
According to the FTC, immigrant communities experience more scams related to debt collection, citing frequent reports of abusive debt collectors who threaten victims with deportation.
The FTC suggests steps to protect yourself against fraud:
- Don't be pressured to make fast decisions.
- Research the organization.
- Never provide personal information.
- Do not click on links from unsolicited emails/texts.
- If unsure about validity, call business directly
- Never send money to someone you don't know or never met
- Never send money for an emergency situation, unless you can verify it.
The FTC encourages Filipinos to not be afraid and report all cases of fraud.
"I think that it is important to convey the message that we are there to protect consumers. We don’t care about immigration status. We want to get information in order to be more effective as an agency," said Ramirez.
To report any cases of fraud, contact the FTC or call 1-877-ftc-help.
You can also log a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
All complaints are forwarded to the FTC.
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