The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced yesterday that it will release on a quarterly basis instead of annually an aggregated report of all of the consumer complaints lodged by individuals . The goal is to provide more up-to-date information about what consumers are experiencing so others can learn from them and protect themselves from becoming a victim.
The FTC also launched its Consumer Protection Data Spotlight, which it says will “take a deep dive into the data to illuminate important stories we are hearing from consumers.” This can be very helpful to consumers in learning about scams, how others have become victims, and to be vigilant against the same or similar scams.
The first Data Spotlight explains how scammers are asking to be paid not only with Bitcoin, but also with gift cards, including iTunes and Google Play cards. According to the Data Spotlight, the reports by consumers that scammers demanded payment in the form of cards increased 270 percent since 2015. The reason they want these cards is that they are difficult to reverse once they are issued and they can be used anonymously.
The FTC states, “The FTC’s advice is simple: if someone tells you to pay with a gift card, don’t do it. Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments.” Sound advice from the FTC.