AI Scams: What To Know For National Consumer Protection Week

March 7, 2024

Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today, as part of National Consumer Protection Week.

Urged all New Yorkers to be aware about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) scams and released new tips about how to stay safe and vigilant. As advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to impact many aspects of our lives, consumers should keep up to date with the newest types of scams that may target them and their loved ones. Scammers may try to impersonate your family and friends using AI voice-cloning technology to ask for money or personal information. Scammers may also use deepfake technology to alter pictures or video to impersonate public figures or loved ones.

“Scammers are becoming increasingly more creative and using new technologies, like AI, to prey on consumers,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “As a consumer protection agency, we take our role in protecting the economic safety of our neighbors seriously, and we want to ensure that New Yorkers are aware of these predatory schemes. As a skeptical consumer is a safe consumer.”

What You Need to Know About AI Scams.


Signs It’s a Voice-Cloning Scam:

  • You are contacted out of the blue.
  • You are pressured to act immediately, with no time to think.
  • The caller is urgently requesting money, usually through a wire transfer, gift card, payment app, or cryptocurrency. These methods of payment make it nearly impossible to get a refund once you’ve been scammed.
  • The caller is requesting personal or private information from you.
  • You are told to keep the caller’s request a secret.

Signs It’s a Deepfake Scam:

  • Look for signs of an altered video including jerky or unrealistic movements, shifts in lighting or skin tone, strange or no blinking, and shadows around the eyes.Listen for inconsistencies.
  • Is the speaker doing something totally out of character, like asking for your money or personal information? Deepfake videos often feature strange word choices, stilted language, and choppy sentences. The caller requesting money, usually urgently and through a hard to trace method like a wire transfer, gift card, payment app, or cryptocurrency.

How to Respond:

  • Ask questions. Caller ID can be faked. Although a scammer may sound like a loved one, they won’t be able to answer personal questions that only your real loved one would know the answer to. You can ask them to confirm details that aren’t publicly available.
  • Be skeptical. Hang up and call the person back, but don’t simply redial the number that called you – call their trusted number. If you can’t reach that loved one directly, try to reach out through another family member or friend.
  • Stop and think. Urgency is one of a scammer’s most powerful tools in getting you to do what they want. You can take control of the situation by pausing for a moment to consider the situation rationally.

You can report scams online to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC will use your report to investigate and bring cases against other frauds, scams, and bad business practices.

Anyone who needs financial advice, including those who may have fallen for a scam, should visit a NYC Financial Empowerment Center for free, one-on-one professional financial counseling. NYC Financial Empowerment Centers can help New Yorkers manage their money, establish, or improve their credit, set up a spending plan, open a safe and affordable bank account, contact their lenders about debt, including student loans, develop a strategy to reduce debt or lower payments, access emergency government resources, and more. Since 2008, NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have served more than 73,000 clients, helping to reduce their debt by more than $100 million, and help them save more than $11 million. New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor by visiting nyc.gov/TalkMoney or calling 311 and saying “Financial Counseling.” Services are available in person or by phone and in multiple languages.

The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP)—formerly the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)—protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 45,000 businesses in more than 40 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at nyc.gov/dcwp 

Photo credit: AI fake of the Pope, Wiki.



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