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August 10, 2009

Protect Yourself from Fraud

Video Relay Service is a wonderfully empowering technology that can be used to conduct conversations between hearing and Deaf individuals who use sign language to communicate. But as the VRS industry is maturing, instances of abuse of the technology have begun to creep up.

As a VRS consumer, you need to be aware of tactics others might use to steal your identity or your personal and financial information. You may have received emails or calls from people or organizations claiming they are awarding money or prizes to you and other VRS users. These deceitful emails and calls request that you send your personal information to a false email address or provide personal financial information over VRS. VRSCA wants you to know that emails and calls like this are most likely scams. As a VRS consumer you do not want to share personal financial information with individuals or groups you do not know.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself:

  • If you receive an email or call from an individual or organization that you have not previously contacted asking for your personal financial information, do not provide your personal financial information. You have no obligation to respond to the request. Simply ignore the email or disconnect from the call.

If you are not sure whether it is a legitimate email or call, you can ask for the following information:

  • The individual’s or business’ name and business license number
  • Address
  • Telephone or VP number
  • Email address

Before responding to any request for personal or financial information, you can check whether the business is legitimate by contacting your local attorney general, consumer protection office, or Better Business Bureau. You can also check with The National Fraud Information Center, Federal Trade Commission, or other consumer groups.

It is advisable NOT to provide your personal or financial information to an individual or company if you cannot verify that the request is legitimate.

You can obtain more information on how to protect yourself against fraudulent activities by contacting the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov/ or the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml.

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