Once in a Lifetime

Scam Stoppers

The FTC takes complaints about suspicious or fraudulent business-opportunity schemes. Although the Commission can't resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations. File a complaint with the FTC by contacting the Consumer Response Center at (877) 382-4357; or by writing Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Or simply visit their Web site at http://www.ftc.gov.

The Web site of the National Consumers League's Internet Fraud Watch division (http://www.fraud.org) offers tips on how to spot possible scams, links to other scam-related sites and online incident report forms that allow the League to transmit your complaint to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Lesley Fountain's Scam 101 Web site (http://www.scams101.com) discusses her experiences at the hands of Internet scammers, and gives updates on the latest scams to hit consumers. There's also a message board where you can complain or commiserate with other scam victims.

While it doesn't focus exclusively on Internet-based scams, the Web page of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), http://www.bbb.com, has links to local chapters of the BBB, allowing you to check the names of companies you're considering doing business with against online databases of consumer complaints. Still, just because a company isn't on file with the BBB doesn't guarantee it's legitimate.

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