Epsilon Data Management Fraud Case
Between 2008 and 2017, Epsilon Data Management sold lists of customer names and addresses to companies involved in fraudulent activities. These companies sent letters or emails to consumers saying they won a big prize or free psychic reading if they paid a reasonable fee. These scams were aimed at the elderly and other vulnerable individuals who paid the companies for the prizes or physic readings and received nothing in return.
The Epsilon Data Management Company had to pay $150 million for fraud and in 2021 entered an agreement with the Department of Justice and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado. They continued to sell client information even when their employees knew some of their partners had been arrested for fraud and scams.
Companies that sell customer lists have a responsibility to sell the lists to ethical companies and protect consumer information. Victims of this scam by Epsilon Data Management were to be contacted directly by the company, and funds are expected to be distributed by an independent claim administrator.
Types of Consumer Fraud
There are many distinct types of consumer fraud. For example, one company called consumers on the phone and told them their personal computers had serious technical issues. They posed as technicians and demanded payment for unneeded technical support.
There have been wire transfer companies involved in fraud, and consumers have reported that their funds never arrived at the bank or that the person for whom they were intended never received them. Some customers lost thousands of dollars, and the issue has never been resolved.
During the pandemic, companies sold fake vaccine kits and cures to consumers. Robo calls, telemarketing calls, emails, texts, and even door-to-door solicitation are just some of the ways scammers market their schemes. The level of federal fraud security class actions in 2019 was high, with plaintiffs filing 424 cases in 2019 as compared to 413 in 2017. Federal fraud security cases and federal civil cases continue to increase every year due to new scams.
What to Do About Scams and Fraud Schemes
When you discover you have been swindled or scammed, report the company and the scam to the appropriate agency. If you are a senior, you can report it to the Elder Fraud Hotline or the Department of Justice. Additionally, your state financial controller and attorney general take reports and complaints about fraud. You can report your case to the Better Business Bureau if a local company is involved in a scam. In severe scam cases, charges may be brought to the federal court. In 1962, 11.5% of federal civil cases went to trial. Today, only around 1% of civil cases actually reach trial in the Federal courts. However, for cases as large as the Epsilon Data Management case, taking the case to the federal level is essential.
If you are regularly paying the company that scammed you, do not pay any more money. Collect emails, documents and conversations you have had with the company to document the fraud. What websites or phone numbers did you use to contact them? Where did the money you paid come from and how did it affect your finances? All this information can be used to file a complaint.
If you provided a credit card number, debit card number, or bank account number to pay for services, you should contact the bank or credit card company to report the scam and fraud incident. You can change your passwords or be issued a new card or account number. Your financial institution can also freeze your account until the issue is resolved.
Some homeowner’s insurance policies have fraud theft protection for losses related to identity theft that affects your finances. You can hire a lawyer to help you with your case and a financial counselor to help you devise a plan to improve your financial situation. In cases of severe money loss, chapter 7 bankruptcy debt allows consumers with credit card balances, medical bills, and personal loans to have the fees discharged. This allows you to move forward with rebuilding your finances after you have been frauded out of your savings.
Reporting scams to the right agency can help protect other consumers and may be a way to help you with finances. Hiring a lawyer, financial advisor, or accountant can be a way to deduct costs from your income taxes and help you recover and protect yourself from scams going forward.