By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud
NCL is proud to announce the relaunch of its anti-fraud education and advocacy campaign, Fraud.org. Today’s announcement is the culmination of nearly a year of work by the League to update its signature anti-fraud program to address the continued challenge of fighting rampant online and telemarketing fraud.
For more than 20 years, anti-fraud education and advocacy have been at the center of NCL’s mission. In 1992, under the leadership of former NCL President Linda Golodner, NCL launched the Alliance Against Fraud, a coalition of groups from the governmental, business, non-profit, and labor communities all united around the common goal of educating and empower consumers to avoid telemarketing scams. This collaboration led to the creation of the National Fraud Information Center, which operated one of the first consumer hotlines dedicated to counseling consumer victims of telemarketing fraud.
In the mid-1990’s millions of consumers were getting online for the first time via home dial-up connections and early broadband networks. This provided fertile ground for scam artists to use the new communications medium to reach millions of potential victims. In 1996, in response to the dramatic growth in Internet-based scams, the League launched Internet Fraud Watch and the original incarnation of Fraud.org. Then, as now, the program was designed to help consumers find up-to-date information on emerging scams and connect them with law enforcement and consumer protection agencies. In the 2000’s the NFIC/IFW (rebranded as NCL’s Fraud Center) regularly published educational brochures, Web content, and anti-fraud educators’ toolkits to help consumers and the agencies that work with them to fight back against fraud.
A new decade has brought new leadership and new challenges to the Fraud Center. With the vast majority of the U.S. population connected to broadband and carrying mobile phones, con artists have never had a more lucrative audience for their schemes. According to estimates from the Financial Fraud Research Center, the annual cost of consumer financial fraud in the U.S. is approximately $50 billion, on par with the annual gross output of the radio and television broadcasting industry. There is a global community of scam artists, as networked and tech-savvy as any Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Their global reach makes it especially difficult for American law enforcement to prosecute the con artists. As billion-dollar scams like the Bernie Madoff case illustrate, even savvy consumers remain vulnerable to fraud.
In the face of this, NCL has not been idle. In 2012, under Executive Director Sally Greenberg, the League launched Fraud Alerts – a monthly email service designed to directly alert consumers to emerging scams and empower them with tips on how to avoid being defrauded. Through the Alliance Against Fraud, NCL will in the coming months redouble its efforts to identify emerging scams and develop new tools to help consumers avoid becoming fraud victim statistics. Today, NCL continues that mission with the relaunch of its anti-fraud campaign. Focused on its iconic Web site, Fraud.org, NCL remains committed to consumer education and empowerment in the fight against fraud.
Through a complete overhaul of its design, the new Fraud.org will make it even easier for consumers to find the information they need to avoid scams. The new user experience includes:
- An updated search function to help consumers search for scams in multiple ways, enabling them to go directly to a specific type of fraud or, using a more advanced search, identify the type of scam they’ve been exposed to if they aren’t sure;
- Content that is easily shareable via social networks so that consumers can quickly pass along fraud warnings to friends and loved ones in need;
- The ability to sign up for regular Fraud Alerts to help consumers stay abreast of emerging scams before they become victims; and
- As always, consumers who have been victims of fraud or been approached by scammers can file complaints through our secure online complaint form. These complaints are then shared with our network of law enforcement and consumer protection partners.
Even with these new resources, the League can’t do it alone. Fraud.org depends on partner organizations and individual consumers to join in the fight against fraud. That’s why we continue to encourage consumers to come forward and report scams via the secure online complaint form on Fraud.org. We are also seeking to expand the membership of the Alliance Against Fraud, so that, through a growing coalition of like-minded partners in the fight against fraud, our concerns will be better heard by policymakers who can help make a difference.
The relaunch of Fraud.org isn’t just about a new Web site. It’s about rededicating ourselves to the notion that no one deserves to be a victim of fraud. With the new resources of Fraud.org and the collective power of the Alliance Against Fraud, we stand a real chance of putting a dent in the pain that scam artist inflict on consumers every day. We hope you love the new site! Check it out today.