The question of “what can we do to stop these scams” often gets asked around here. Here’s a list of places where you can take action if you think that a company is scammed or defrauded you in any way. The more complaints you file the better as this helps the different agencies build cases against illegitimate companies and helps protect other consumers from falling for scams.
A special thank you goes out to Paul from WorkAtHomeTruth.com for compiling this information in a post titled How to file Consumer Complaints. Paul is an old friend of I’ve Tried That and one of the few people online actively fighting against scams.
Where to File a Complaint/Report a Scam
IMPORTANT! Do NOT file complaints just because you are “mad” at a company. However, if you feel a company has acted deceptively in your dealings with them or is engaging in unfair business practices then the following is the where and why of how to file complaints:
The Better Business Bureau
You should DEFINITELY file complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
Why file complaints with the BBB:
While I do have some issues with the BBB, they are a great resource when it comes to filing complaints against a company. A complaint can be a good avenue of getting in contact with a company or, at the very least, act as a warning for others.
Not only that, but the FTC reviews complaints from the BBB on a regular basis as part of their gathering of extrinsic evidence on cases (essentially that means evidence outside their review of the actual sales materials and sales process).
The Attorney General
You should DEFINITELY file with your AGs Office and the AG of any state that the company is operating out of.
Why file complaints with the AGs:
One of my friends is an attorney that used to work for the Missouri Attorneys General’s office. Here’s what she told me:
She said that typically ONE state AG will will investigate a company first and then file suit against them if they feel it is justified. After that OTHER AGs will sometimes also file against the company. And AFTER the AGS file, the FTC takes notice and considers filing against the company.
The Federal Trade Commission
You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Why file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission
The FTC doesn’t handle individual complaint cases, but they use complaints to gather evidence against a company should they decide to take action.
IC3.gov – The Internet Crime Complaint Center
You should file a complaint with IC3.gov (The Internet Crime Complaint Center)
Why file complaints with IC3.gov
IC3.gov is useful for law enforcement to determine if certain potential cases are related, even if they appear to be from different sectors.
Your State’s Office of Consumer Protection
It may be helpful to contact your State’s Office Of Consumer Protection
Why contact your State’s Office Of Consumer Protection
Some Consumer Protection Offices do facilitate dispute resolution. However, you should note that certain complaints may be within the jurisdiction of other local, state, or federal offices.
Your District Attorney’s Office
It may be helpful to contact your District Attorney’s (United States Attorney’s) Office
Why contact your District Attorney’s Office
The District Attorney prosecutes criminal matters and represents the U.S. Government in civil matters.
The United States Postal Inspection Service
If you believe you’re a victim of fraud related to the U.S. Mail, including mailed sweepstakes, lotteries, on-line auctions, work-at-home scams or chain letters, report your concern to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as mail fraud.
- FTC Policy Statement On Deception – Although it’s old, FTC attorneys continually refer to this policy statement as an important statement of how the FTC judges whether or not a company has engaged in an act of deception.
- FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection – I encourage you to note this part: “Wants to hear from consumers who want to get information”. If you have a question or are unclear about anything you read on the FTC site, ASK them to clarify.
- Full Text of the Safe Web Act of 2006 – Enacted as a means to help law enforcement fight cross-border fraud.
- Scope and Limitations of Data Sharing within the Safe Web Act – from the Federal Register
- Help With My Bank – can be helpful if you are trying to recover your money as it shows you how to work with your credit card company or bank.
- Consumer Rights For credit and debit cards – easy to read summary explaining important differences between debit card disputes and credit card disputes.
- Debit Card facts – covers much of the previous, but also goes into how some companies hold as much as $50 – $75 more than what you actual owe for as long as several days thereby locking out your access to your own money.
If you have any additional resources to add, please add a comment below.