In response to reports that con artists are preying on consumer fears about the Year 2000 computer bug and its potential impact on financial services, the Federal Trade Commission in cooperation with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion today released "Y2K? Y 2 Care: Protecting Your Finances from Year 2000 Scam Artists." This consumer alert is one in a series of alerts the FTC has prepared to inform consumers and industry about Y2K issues. In addition to the alerts, consumers can call a free hotline - 1-888-USA-4-Y2K-- for information about Y2K topics.
The full text of the consumer alert follows:
Y2K? Y 2 Care: Protecting Your Finances from Year 2000 Scam Artists
"I got a call from a man who said he represented my bank. He said they're having trouble preparing for the Year 2000 and that I need to transfer my money to a special account until the bank can comply with the Year 2000 requirements. I hung up when he asked me for personal information. Did I do the right thing?"
"I got a call from a woman who said she needed my credit card number to verify that the card would work after January 1, 2000. Is this a scam?"
Yes. The confusion surrounding Y2K provides one more opportunity for scam artists to take advantage of consumers.
The Y2K problem...the Y2K glitch...the millennium bug. Whatever you call it, it's the inability of some computers and computerized systems to correctly recognize dates after 1999. Many products have microchips that have been programmed to process only the last two digits of a year on the assumption that the first two would be 1 and 9. As a result, 98 is read as 1998, and 00 could be read as 1900 instead of 2000.
Financial institutions are taking steps to ensure their computer systems are ready to process transactions properly as of January 1, 2000. In fact, they are required to be Y2K compliant before the century date change. Federal regulators have a comprehensive Y2K program underway that includes examination of federally insured depository institutions, including banks, thrifts and credit unions. And the Federal Reserve has arranged for printing additional currency in 1999 so that extra cash is available to bank customers.
Have questions? Call your financial institution.
For More Information
Many public and private sector financial organizations provide Y2K information through their Web sites and consumer call centers. Information also is available from 1-888-USA-4-Y2K (toll-free) or the U.S. Consumer Gateway at www.consumer.gov.
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Customer Assistance Group
3701 McKinney Street
Houston, TX 77010
State Member Banks of the Federal Reserve System
Consumer and Community Affairs
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th & Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20551
Non-Member Federally Insured Banks
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Compliance and Consumer Affairs
550 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20429
State and Federally Chartered Savings Associations
Office of Thrift Supervision
Consumer Affairs Office
1700 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20552
Federal Credit Unions
National Credit Union Administration
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Other types of financial service providers (finance and leasing companies/retailers/credit bureaus):
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20580
(202) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
TDD: (202) 326-2502
Copies of the all the Y2K Y 2 Care consumer and business alerts and other Y2K information are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.