‘Double Check, Don’t Double Up’ on acetaminophen this cold and flu season

A bad cold or the flu can stop you in your tracks. Each year, Americans catch an estimated 1 billion colds, and up to 20 percent get the flu. And most of us turn to medicine to relieve symptoms; but it is important that you read the label on your medicines to check for acetaminophen and don’t double up.

After the first of the year, it seems like influenza (flu) season magically appeared, with a fierce intensity. Cases of flu are growing fast, and it is predicted that this season might be one of the worst in years.

More than 600 different over-the-counter and prescription medicines contain acetaminophen, including many for cough, cold and flu. It is the most common drug ingredient in America and can be in many prescription medicines taken by people who suffer from chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, or back pain. It can also be found in many different types of over-the-counter medicines taken by people with temporary conditions such as fever or aches and pains. Acetaminophen is safe and effective when used as directed but there is a limit to how much you can take in one day. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.

The National Consumers League is a member of the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition, which educates consumers and patients about how to use medicines containing acetaminophen appropriately and to help change behaviors that could lead to an unintentional acetaminophen overdose. The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s Know Your Dose Campaign wants consumers to “double check” their medicine label so they don’t “double up” on medicines containing acetaminophen. If you take medicine to relieve cold or flu symptoms, check your medicine label to know if your medicine contains acetaminophen.

Know Your Dose is promoting four important steps for safe acetaminophen use:

  1. Check if your medicine contains acetaminophen
  2. Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time
  3. Always read and follow the medicine label
  4. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines containing acetaminophen.

If you are wondering how to actually read the label on your medication, check out this interactive Drug Facts Label. Here you can find out where to look to see if your medicine contains acetaminophen.

Learn more at www.KnowYourDose.org. Follow the Campaign on Twitter @KnowYourDose.

Script Your Future launches second annual student challenge to improve medication adherence – National Consumers League

January 30, 2013

Contact: Carol McKay, NCL, (412) 945-3242, carolm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Today marks the launch of the 2013 Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a month-long competitive outreach project to engage student pharmacists and other health profession students, including medical and nursing students, and faculty in coming up with creative solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, coordinated by the National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneer consumer group and the lead organization on the national Script Your Future campaign, is returning to university campuses across the country after a successful first year of student innovation.

With nearly three out of four Americans not taking their medications as directed—which results in serious health consequences, especially for people with chronic diseases—the National Consumers League and its partners in the Script Your Future campaign have committed to a 3-year program to raise awareness of the importance of medication adherence. The Challenge is part of the public awareness campaign launched in 2011 by NCL with more than 130 public and private stakeholder organizations.  This year’s Challenge is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, the American Medical Association (AMA), and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

“One of the best hopes we have for changing our culture of nonadherence is to train the next generation of health care professionals to be proactive about engaging their patients, and that starts in the classroom through the innovation brought forward by health professions faculty,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director.

“The success of the first Script Your Future Adherence Challenge in October 2011 demonstrated the power of student pharmacists to reach out to their communities and engage patients and caregivers to improve health through better adherence,” said Dr. Lucinda L. Maine, Executive Vice President and CEO at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.  “This year’s Challenge will emphasize the interprofessional health care team and what each member of that team needs to do to move the needle on medication adherence.”

The Medication Adherence Team Challenge is a month-long outreach project that will be held in February 2013 to engage interdisciplinary student teams from pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and other health professions to tackle the problem of poor adherence.  The teams will be implementing creative solutions and outreach in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence, using Script Your Future materials.  At the end of the Challenge, select schools or colleges will be recognized nationally for their efforts to improve medication adherence.

“Innovative medication adherence  initiatives, such as the Challenge, ultimately help raise patient awareness of the importance of taking medication as prescribed. This kind of initiative can help prevent potential adverse events and unnecessary hospitalizations, and ultimately help improve health outcomes,” said NACDS Foundation President Kathleen Jaeger.  “We look forward to seeing what this next generation of pharmacists and other health care professionals will create throughout this year’s Challenge.”

“Everyone wins when patients take their medication as prescribed to achieve optimal health outcomes,” said AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, M.D. “As a sponsor of the challenge, the AMA is pleased to work with other health care professionals to improve the health of our patients and avoid unnecessary health problems.”

“Greater medication adherence improves patients’ well-being and ultimately helps to drive down the costs of health care,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. “Independent community pharmacists are committed to proactively identifying solutions to improve patient adherence in their communities, and the Challenge is a terrific way to raise awareness among the next generation of pharmacists.”

In the inaugural year of the Challenge, more than 40,000 student pharmacists educated over 250,000 individuals nationwide during the month of October 2011 in this concerted public effort about the importance of medication adherence. Last year’s awardees, selected from 81 participating colleges and schools of pharmacy, included the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Harding University College of Pharmacy, Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy, and University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy. To learn more about last year’s winners visit the Script Your Future website.

For more information on the Challenge visit the Challenge Community website at https://syfadherencechallenge.ning.com/. Follow the Challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #SYFchallenge and follow the campaign @IWillTakeMyMeds.


About Script Your Future

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information about the Script Your Future campaign, visit www.ScriptYourFuture.org. For more information on NCL, please visit www.nclnet.org.

Good, bad, ugly of restaurant work featured at ‘Kitchen Ethical’ event – National Consumers League

By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft

How would you like to work for a week and at the end of your pay period receive a voided check? Or have to choose between going to work with the flu or not being able to pay for groceries for your children? Or have to rely on the kindness of customers to cover 70 percent of your wages or know that management it taking a cut of your tips? For too many restaurant workers, that’s reality and is just the tip of the iceberg.

Earlier this month, NCL co-hosted Kitchen Ethical with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United). Kitchen Ethical concentrated on the good, the bad and the ugly of the restaurant industry.  The event consisted of two panels: Success & the Ethical Employer – with two DC-based restaurant owners who believe and provide all their employees with paid sick days and employ ethical work practices; and Taking Off the Gloves – with restaurant workers sharing their stories of wage theft abuses, trying to survive on the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour and the real consequences of the lack of paid sick days.

As someone who has never worked in the restaurant industry, it’s hard to imagine working and not receiving a paycheck. As consumers, we have some power to affect change in a way that fines and regulations are not. Restaurants need customers in order to be successful, and — if customers demand change — then owners will have to listen.

Did you know that if you leave your tip on your credit card, your server might not receive their tip? Last year, celebrity chef and restaurant owner Mario Batali and his business partners were successfully sued for $5.25 million for a tip skimming scheme, a wage theft abuse. Unfortunately, this is not a one-time occurrence but is something that probably happens in a large portion of restaurants in the nation. But if we tip in cash, we can help eliminate this form of wage theft.

The lack of paid sick days not only puts workers in jeopardy but it also puts all consumers at risk. With the current flu epidemic at near record highs, the lack of paid sick days becomes a public health issue as well as a food safety issue. Who knows how safe or germ-free your food is if either your server or chef is sick?

For about 22 years, since 1991, the federal tipped minimum wage has been stuck at an appalling $2.13 an hour. According to NCL’s survey, released on the same day as Kitchen Ethical, 87 percent of consumers agree that it is time to raise the tipped minimum wage. Tipped workers are supposed to make up the remainder of their wage with tips from their customers. According to ROC-United’s 2011 Behind the Kitchen Door study, the median wage for restaurant workers is $8.90 an hour and based on a 40 hour week comes to just under the poverty line for a family of three. Any way you slice it, it’s not enough to survive on.

So what can we do? If there is only one thing you remember when eating out, let it be that as customers, we can affect change in this vital industry that desperately needs it.  Workers’ health and well-being not to mention livelihood are put in danger when unethical business practices are allowed to flourish. Public health and food safety suffer when business owners cut corners and deny their workers paid sick days and worker survival is at a great risk when the government prohibits poverty level wages and wage theft abuses are permitted. We, as voters, need to encourage our representatives to pass worker friendly legislation. As consumers, we need to demand that places we patronize treat their workers with the respect and dignity. No worker should have to work while sick, be paid a poverty wage, or worry that their employer is cheating them out of their hard-earned money.

Check out video clips from Kitchen Ethical.

Tracking food fraud – National Consumers League

For decades, NCL has tracked trends about the Internet and telemarketing scams plaguing consumers through its Fraud Center and Fraud.org. But there’s another kind of fraud on the rise, and you’ll find it in your grocery store: food fraud.

While these types of fraud seem increasingly common, another, more invisible type of deception is also on the rise: food fraud. According to the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, a critically important entity protecting food and drug purity, the amount of fake ingredients has increased by 60 percent in the last year. Counterfeit foods range from lemon juice purporting to be “100% pure” to cheap oils, which are dyed and flavored for the purpose, being passed off as pricey extra virgin olive oil.

The motive behind food fraud is obvious: economic gain. When ingredients and the products they are used in become pricey, there is much money to be made by unscrupulous producers. These activities hurt the honest businessmen in the industry but can also potentially harm the consumer. When a product has been adulterated and those ingredients are not listed on the label, consumers, particularly those with food allergies, no longer have the ability to necessarily avoid those ingredients that pose a threat. For example, cheaper oils, such as hazelnut, palm and corn oil may be treated so that they can pass for live oil. This can prove a grave threat to those who are allergic to these products.

So, what can consumers do? Unfortunately, there aren’t foolproof steps to protect yourself from all food fraud. Less pricey categories of fish, for example, are often mislabeled as more expensive species. Even trained chefs, who handle the food every day, can be fooled and only DNA tests can reveal the substitution taking place. While there’s nothing a consumer can do to ensure they never consume a fraudulent food, there are some common sense steps they can take to mitigate the risk.

Here are some tips for savvy consumers:

  • If a price seems too good to be true, you just might be on to something. There’s a reason that particular brand costs less than all the others, and there’s a chance that reason is adulteration.
  • Pick brands that have a vested interest in keeping you as a consumer. They may have more of an incentive to stay honest.
  • When possible, buy raw ingredients rather than processed ones. For example, buy your own coffee beans to grind rather than buying ground coffee.
  • Speak out to your member of Congress, as well as the federal agencies, like the FDA, who work on these issues, know that food fraud is an important issue.

Consumer group laments court ruling over constitutionality of Obama NLRB appointments – National Consumers League

January 25, 2013

Contact: Carol McKay, NCL Communications, (412) 945-3242, carolm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) today expressed disappointment in the ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were unconstitutional. The Justice Department has indicated that the Administration will appeal the decision by three conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“With only three current seats filled on the five-member NLRB, and two of those seats filled with members appointed under the questioned recess appointments, the Court is trying to shut down the cop on the beat charged with safeguarding employees’ rights to organize and addressing unfair labor practices,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL.

“We disagree with this decision, but note that all the appointees will remain in their jobs, not just at the NLRB but also Richard Cordray at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and will remain open for business. We urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm nominees to both the NLRB and the CFPB and allow these agencies to get on with carrying out the people’s business.”

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL expresses concern over new Apple child labor revelations – National Consumers League

January 25, 2013

Contact: Carol McKay, NCL Communications, (412) 945-3242, carolm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Apple Inc. announced today that its internal audits had found more than 106 underage employees at 11 different locations in its supply chain; it found another 70 “historical” cases of child labor. The company also said that it had terminated contracts with a Chinese supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhuou Electronics, which employed 74 workers under age 16. Auditors found eight facilities with “bonded labor,” cases in which workers were compelled to labor to pay off excessive recruiting fees.

The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization with a long history of working to reduce child labor in the U.S. and abroad, applauds the termination of supplier contracts that rely on the work of child labor. “After much criticism, it appears that Apple has finally stepped up auditing of its supply chain. We urge the company to continue on that path as aggressively as possible. With 1.5 million workers in 14 countries, the 106 children found working may be the tip of the iceberg,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, who is a co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition, which represents 28 organizations, trying to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

“Children should not be working in electronics manufacturing–with its accompanying dangers. They should be in school and allowed to realize their full potential,” said Greenberg. “Given Apple’s enormous profitability, it’s essential the company does everything in its power to stamp out child labor. Other electronics companies should take warning, and conduct rigorous audits of their supply chains.”

Apple suppliers in China, including the manufacturing behemoth FoxConn, have been criticized for poor working conditions and safety standards. Conditions were so bad, FoxConn felt compelled to install suicide nets to stop employees from plunging to their deaths off company rooftops. According to analyst Steven Millwood of TechAsia, Apple’s new  “supplier responsibility” report “details the same grim scene” for workers depicted in prior reports.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Should more be done to police fuel mileage reporting? – National Consumers League

By Alex Lipow

Alex Lipow, a public policy, telecommunications and fraud intern at NCL this winter, is taking a gap year after high school before starting college at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in the fall.  In high school, Alex was actively involved in debate, Model United Nations, and student government. Alex has experience working as an intern in Congressman Steve Cohen’s office and as a fellow on President Obama’s re-election campaign.

A recent article written by Dave Hurst in Forbes discusses the discovery that some major auto manufactures intentionally over-reported the fuel economy of their cars.  This in turn raised the reported average fuel economy of their entire fleets. According to Hurst, the EPA mandates that certain procedures be used to test the fuel economy of cars but relies a great deal on manufactures to conduct the tests themselves. The results of these tests are then used in advertising and are displayed on window stickers for consumer reference.  The goal of this process is to give consumers the ability to compare cars sold by different companies based upon their stated mileage.

The EPA first audited Hyundai and Kia after receiving complaints about the accuracy of their reported fuel economy figures. The audits show that Hyundai and Kia exaggerated mileage data showing that some of their vehicles had reached 40 miles per gallon (mpg). In some cases, the fuel economy was exaggerated by as many as six miles per gallon. This practice appears to be widespread. A class-action lawsuit is pending against Ford for misrepresenting mileage numbers in its C-Max and Fusion hybrids and Honda was recently in court over mileage claims of its Civic hybrid.

When I first read Hurst’s article, I could not help but ask who is protecting consumers and holding corporations accountable for malfeasance like this? Reliable information is crucial to the buying process, whether it be homes, toasters or cars. When comparing vehicles, fuel economy is often one of the most important features consumers consider. If it is listed inaccurately, as in the instances described above, would so many people have bought these cars?

How has this misreporting become so widespread? One reason may be the relatively few resources the EPA dedicates to mileage testing. A 2009 Car and Driver article found, for example, that just 18 EPA employees are responsible for mileage testing. With such a small staff, the EPA is only able to test 200 to 250 vehicles per year, roughly 15 percent of the total number of new car models introduced in a given year. It may be time for the EPA to consider more closely monitoring mileage testing or levying sizable fines against companies that misreport mileage. At the very least the EPA should devote more resources to its own testing program so that it can protect consumers from this type of deceptive practice. Had regulators been able to supervise the testing and reporting of this information, consumers may have been able to make a better decision about the product they would have preferred to buy.

NCL commends DOL for new rule to strengthen mine health and safety measures – National Consumers League

January 22, 2013

Contact: Carol McKay, NCL Communications, (412) 945-3242, carolm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) today is commending the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for releasing a new rule on January 17, to strengthen mine safety measures across the country. The new rule seeks to ensure that mine operators address and monitor the most hazardous safety problems in their mines and reinforces the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) authority to respond to dangerous mining conditions and improve safety and health for miners.

“After the Upper Big Branch Mine tragedy in 2010, when 29 miners lost their lives due to management’s brazen disregard for health and safety, as well as for the law, it is gratifying to have MSHA tighten its reigns on mine operators and hold them accountable,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. NCL is the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy group, advocating for improved mine safety since the 1930s.

In 2010, NCL called on MSHA to improve mine safety in order to protect the lives of workers by beefing up safety regulations, assigning higher fines for violators, and expediting processes for forcing mines with safety violations to address the hazards.

The new DOL rule comes in response to several recommendations from a September 2010 report from the department’s Office of Inspector General, which recommended that MSHA re-evaluate pattern of violations (POV) regulations; seek stakeholders input in developing new, transparent POV criteria; and re-evaluate the standard for timely completion of laboratory tests. The new rule better positions the agency to identify operators who blatantly ignore the health and safety of their miners and are unresponsive to other enforcement measures.

“We hope this new rule gives MSHA the authority it needs to regulate rogue operators, better protect miners, and prevent another mine disaster from occurring,” said Greenberg.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

As the flu season hits hard, learn how to protect yourself – National Consumers League

92_ayannaBy Ayanna Johnson, Health Policy Associate

After the first of the year, it seems like influenza (flu) season magically appeared, with a fierce intensity. Cases of flu are growing fast, and it is predicted that this season might be one of the worst in years. Hospitals and emergency departments are being inundated with cases; many people are quite sick and some have died. The flu is scary, but it’s not too late to get vaccinated against this year’s strain.

In New York alone, more than 19,000 cases of flu have been reported thus far; compare that to just 4,000 cases last year.  Boston has seen more than 700 cases and has declared a state of public health emergency. Twenty-nine states are reporting higher than average levels of influenza.  To find out where the flu is near you, check out Flunearyou.org, an interactive map that shows the number of cases people are reporting in your area.

The flu has caused dozens of deaths across the US; two have been children. Though the CDC only collects data on adult deaths at the end of flu season; some states have released early figures. On January 11, Minnesota, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania each reported over 20 deaths. As of January 5, 2013, CDC reported that “the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza is slightly above the epidemic threshold for the first time this season.”

Is it the cold or Flu?

One of the most common questions heard during the flu season is “How do I know if I have the flu or a cold?” That’s a great question that can be difficult to untangle. Colds typically are less severe and accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose. The flu is often characterized by a fever, cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children).

Check out this infographic from APHA to determine if what you have might be the flu or a cold. Of course, it is always best to consult your health care provider.

Get Vaccinated!

  • As of November 2012, 36.5% of all people eligible to receive the vaccine have done so. This is about the same rate as this time last year, but the flu this year is worse than in 2011.
  •  It’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu and doing so is a great idea. The vaccine protects you and your family (and even those around you) from getting sick. For more information on what vaccines do check out this information from the CDC.
  •  This year’s flu vaccine protects against three flu strains: influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. Preliminary research finds that the vaccine is also about 62% effective in preventing the flu. Flu vaccines typically range in effectiveness from 30-70 percent.
  • The vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age, especially if you live with someone who has a high risk of complications from the flu, which includes the following people:
    • Children and infants
    • Pregnant women (the flu shot is approved for pregnant women. Protects mom and baby!)
    • Seniors
    • People with disabilities
    • People with health conditions like asthma
    • Travelers and people living abroad
  • Your primary care provider can give you the flu vaccine and local pharmacies may have the flu vaccine to protect you during this flu season. Be sure to check with them first. You can also use the flu vaccine finder to find out where the flu vaccine is near you.

As flu season continues, keep yourself healthy by following the age-old tips of washing your hands often and covering your mouth when you sneeze (Don’t use your hands! The upper arm will do). The CDC recommends following public health advice about outbreaks and advice from your health care provider and avoiding contact with sick people. If you do get sick and are prescribed an antiviral drug for your flu symptoms, take the medicine as directed by your provider.

Avoid a Valentine’s Day hangover: Don’t fall for a romance scam – National Consumers League

Think you’re lucky in love? People who find that special someone online could be in for a rude awakening if they don’t take precautions against con artists, who use clever tactics to meet victims online, form a bond and gain their trust, and bilk them out of hard-earned money.At first, it seems like the perfect match. You meet someone online that you can really connect with, who is everything you’ve ever dreamed of in a significant other. As the relationship develops, you start to talk seriously about meeting each other face-to-face. It’s a big step in any online relationship, but it seems like the two of you just click so why wouldn’t you take a chance on love? When the request for money to help with travel expenses comes, you send the money. After all, it seems like a small price to pay for the chance at a lifetime of happiness.

Unfortunately, this scenario is what happens all too often to victims of the romance scam. A scam artist is the person on the other end of the relationship, who knows just how to make someone believe a story and ultimately send money. If the victim sends money, it’s followed by additional requests for cash, which continue until the victim either catches on to the scam or runs out of money.

A woman we’ll call “Sarah” recently shared her story with Fraud.org. Sarah met a man calling himself “Robert” on a popular online dating website. Robert claimed to be from Georgia and he and Sarah began exchanging emails and text messages.

A few weeks into the relationship, he told Sarah that he was sent on business to the Philippines. While allegedly abroad, he claimed that he was robbed, had emergency surgery, and was arrested for tax evasion among other misfortunes. He asked Sarah to send him money to help him get back on his feet and make the return journey to the U.S. He promised to pay her back once he had access to his late wife’s safe deposit box back home.

Robert convinced Sarah to help and she sent the money. Before she caught on to the scam, Sarah had lost almost $30,000.

Sarah is not alone. In 2013, romance and friendship scams were the 10th-most reported type of scam to Fraud.org. They were also by far the most expensive type of scam for their victims, with losses averaging more than $13,000 per incident. It’s not surprising to see why, either. Love is one of the most powerful emotions. What wouldn’t you do to help out someone with whom your share a deep connection? Scammers operating these scams are skilled in manipulating their victim, gaining their target’s trust, and ultimately defrauding them of as much money as possible.

This Valentine’s Day, NCL is urging consumers to learn more about these scams so that they can spot the warning signs and avoid a costly fraud. Red flags include:

Any request to send money from someone you’ve never met in real life.

Wire transfer services like Western Union and Moneygram are favorites of scammers, but we’ve also received complaints where the victim is asked to send money via bank transfers, prepaid debit cards (like Green Dot MoneyPaks), newer services like Xoom, or even mailing cash stuffed inside magazines or books.

The person you’re communicating with says they are located overseas.

A favorite tactic by romance scammers is to claim to be a U.S. citizen who is temporarily out of the country on business or military deployment.

Requests to communicate outside of an online dating sites’ internal messaging system.

Many online dating sites monitor their messaging services for suspicious activity. Romance scammers will often ask to use other communications technologies such as instant messenger, text messaging, or email.

Requests to cash a check or money order from someone you’ve never met in real life.

Often, the check is fake and the scammer is only trying to get you to cash the check and wire her or him the proceeds before your bank catches on.

Allusions to great wealth.

Romance scammers will often claim that they have access to or are about to have access to significant amounts of money. With their victim’s financial help, they claim they’ll be able to access the cash and potentially share it with their “lover.”

Think you’re a victim of a Sweetheart Swindle? Report it to Fraud.org.