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FDIC Consumer News - Spring 1998

Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

He’s Not From the Government… and
He’s Not Going to Help You

Government agencies work hard to serve the American people and earn your trust. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people and companies who try to take advantage

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of this trust — and take advantage of consumers — by tricking them into thinking they’re dealing with legitimate government officials. We want you to beware of scams, deceptive marketing campaigns or otherwise questionable activities that trade on the government’s good name and reputation. They include:

•    Charging a fee for services that are available free from the government. Common schemes involve writing or calling with claims of inside information and offers to help recover unclaimed property or get a refund from the government, for a fee, when all of that can be done at no charge by dealing directly with the agency involved.

•    Getting up-front payments for bogus offers. The files of the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General include the case of a Texas motorcycle dealer who was convicted for persuading people to invest millions in FDIC-owned luxury automobiles and corporate airplanes that did not exist. Other cases involve convictions against imposters who convinced home buyers to send them big down payments for special deals on real estate supposedly owned by the government.

•    Falsely claiming that goods or services are approved or backed by a government agency. Two examples — phony banks that falsely advertise themselves as FDIC-insured and crooks who pretend to be bank examiners — are described in other stories in this issue.

One way companies dupe consumers is by using a name or acronym that leads people to believe they are dealing with a government agency (although there are many legitimate and law-abiding companies or organizations with names similar to a government agency).

How can you protect yourself? Beware of unsolicited offers for deals that seem too good to be true and from a person or company claiming or appearing to be from the government. When in doubt, go to your phone book or another directory of government agencies and call to confirm the validity of the offer. Don’t trust the phone number given to you otherwise. That could be part of the scam. Also consider contacting your state government (the consumer affairs office or attorney general listed in your phone book), the local Better Business Bureau (also in your phone book) or the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Response Center (6th & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580, phone 202-326-3128 or e-mail). If you’re suspicious about someone you’re suspicious about someone claiming to represent the FDIC, call our Office of Inspector General toll-free at (800) 833-3310.

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Last Updated 08/03/1999 communications@fdic.gov