March 2013

If They’re App-y and You Know It

Have kids in your life? Then you’ve probably got a collection of kids’ apps — or soon will. Whether it’s a game on your phone or a math app on your tablet, find out what apps might be doing — but might not be telling you — and what you can do about it:

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Mystery Shopper Reveal: Are You Selling Entertainment to Kids?

Guess who recently went undercover to see if entertainment ratings were enforced when teens tried to buy age-restricted video games, movies, or music?

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

A Little Credit

During the past few years, consumers have complained to the Federal Trade Commission about debt collection more than just about any other single topic. It’s no surprise, then, that when we asked legal services attorneys and non-profits across the country what issues resonate most with the people they see, credit and debt topped that list, too.

That’s why the FTC’s new resource, consumer.gov, devotes a section to issues related to credit and debt.  It is a great place to learn about building your credit history, and getting your credit reports and scores; using credit, including credit cards, loans, and interest rates; the risks of using more expensive credit options like payday loans and car title loans; and managing debt – from better budgeting to dealing with debt collectors.

consumer.gov screenshot

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The Truth About Cell Phones and the National Do Not Call Registry

Contrary to re-circulating email, there is no new cell phone national do not call database.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

These Prizes Were No Gems

It’s exciting news —the caller says you’ve won a new car, a boat, jewelry, a fabulous vacation, or a cash prize. All you need to do is buy some vitamins — for $300 to $500 — to claim it.

But this “promotion” from American Health Associates is really just the latest scheme from a repeat scammer, the FTC says. A scheme that’s now been stopped, thanks to the FTC.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Traveling for Spring Break?

Oh yes, it’s that sweet time of year again — Spring Break is almost here! Whether you’re off to sunbathe on the sand, see the sights, or ski the slopes, it pays to be an informed travel shopper.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

You Owe Me Money

What if a company called you, demanding you pay for a product they said you ordered? What if they threatened you if you didn’t pay? And what if you never actually ordered that product, never even saw it, and never promised to pay for anything? 

A recently-filed FTC case claims that Instant Response Systems, a Brooklyn-based company, did all that and more.

What’s in Your Paint?

Sherwin-Williams and PPG Architectural Finishes have settled FTC charges that they misled people into thinking the paints they sold didn’t contain VOCs — compounds that can hurt the environment and your health. The companies will stop claiming Dutch Boy Refresh and Pure Performance interior paints contain “zero VOCs.”

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Mortgage Relief That Provides None

The FTC recently settled with two individuals and seven companies that allegedly lied about the mortgage relief and foreclosure rescue services they sold to distressed homeowners.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Bogus Text Message Prize Offers

If you've ever gotten a text message on your cell phone telling you that you've won a free prize, you're not alone. During the past year, the FTC has gotten tens of thousands of complaints about unsolicited text messages.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Variations on a Scheme

We’ve heard reports that a variation on an old scam is making the rounds. It sounds like this:

<Ring, ring>

Unsuspecting person who answers the phone:  Hello?

Scammer who is calling:  Ma’am, I’m calling from the government. We’re about to send out national medical cards for the new Affordable Care Act. You’re one of the lucky people to get yours first...

Pressing Questions

On Friday, many of my colleagues will be joining the US Department of Justice’s Civil Consumer Protection Branch at the Second Annual Consumer Protection Summit.

On the agenda for the day are these hot topics...

This is National Consumer Protection Week!

National Consumer Protection Weeks begins today, and it’s the biggest and best NCPW in 15 years. Thanks to 64 federal, state and local agencies and nonprofits that are putting the spotlight on the critical consumer protection work they do year-round, consumers have easy access to a tremendous variety of timely, useful information about recognizing and reporting frauds and scams, managing credit and debt, using technology, and staying healthy and safe.

Top Complaint to the FTC? ID Theft, Again

When it’s award season in Hollywood, being #1 is what it’s all about. But in other settings, there’s nothing admirable about coming in first. For the fifth consecutive year, identity theft is at the top of the FTC’s list of consumer complaints.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity