September 2013

Paying for a Threat

Imagine this: it’s the hottest day of the year. (Or, since we’re getting into Fall, the coldest.) Someone from your utility company calls to say they’re about to cut off your power. You check the caller ID, and it looks like the right number – at least, it’s in your area code. You know you’ve paid your bill, and you can’t imagine what happened – but you also know you can’t afford to lose power.  So what do you do?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Con artists prey on victims of timeshare resale scams

Con artists are trying to steal money from people by falsely claiming they are associated with the federal courts, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The imposters tell people they are entitled to refunds as part of cases brought by the FTC against companies that engaged in timeshare resale fraud. People are told they must pay several hundred dollars in “court costs,” “processing fees” or “filing fees” to get their refunds. The scammers may use an actual FTC case number to lend some legitimacy to their pitch. DO NOT GIVE THESE IMPOSTERS MONEY. THIS IS A SCAM.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Hispanic Heritage Month: Protecting Your Family Online

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, almost 9 out of 10 Latino teens have access to the internet. And with tablets and smartphones, they could be online away from your home and your watchful eyes—even the ones in the back of your head.

As a parent, there’s a lot you can do to protect your kids online. And you don’t have to be tech savvy to do it. Research shows that the best way to protect your kids online is to talk to them. So where can you start? This video helps you talk to your kids about being safe online.

Oh…Is This An Ad?

Do you sometimes find it hard to tell ads from surrounding content when you’re online or using a mobile app? Have you ever wondered whether the article you selected is actually an ad? If your answer is yes, you may be interested in an upcoming FTC workshop.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Do you know how to prepare for a weather emergency? Let the FTC help show you the way

September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to prepare your family, pets, and property for extreme weather situations. The FTC has information to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from different aspects of a weather emergency.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Taking Health Care Scams Off the Market

Starting October 1, people will have new ways to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. As opening day approaches, the media will no doubt carry more stories about the Health Insurance Marketplace, how to enroll, and where to get legitimate help. Now that’s the kind of news you can use.

One other piece of news that’s useful: federal and state agencies are working together to encourage consumers to report scammers who use the Health Insurance Marketplace as bait.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

A Text Twist on Debt Collection

Yet another text message. Who’s this one from? Seriously? A debt collector?

Getting texts from debt collectors might be annoying, but it’s not illegal. What is illegal is an incomplete disclosure and a harassing or deceptive attempt to collect money. For example, it’s against the law for debt collectors to pretend to be attorneys or falsely threaten to sue you, regardless of how they communicate — through texts, through letters, or through phone calls.

Envelope Image

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Common Sense Protections for Your Financial Information

To some scammers, older Americans are an attractive target — over a lifetime of saving, they may have built up a nest egg for retirement or equity in their home. Like Willie Sutton, scammers go where the money is. So banks and other financial institutions play a key role in protecting their customers from abuse and exploitation. Financial institutions are often in the best position to recognize suspicious activity relating to an account.

You Can’t Win

Is it your lucky day? If you’ve gotten a call or letter saying you’ve won a big cash prize, and just need to pay a small fee to claim it, maybe not.

an open mailbox with mail in it

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Hispanic Heritage Month: Protecting Your Wallet

Whether you’re setting out on your own or teaching people about financial issues like making and saving money, using credit, or managing debt, it pays to have some everyday strategies.

Managing your finances takes time and effort—and can raise lots of questions. That’s why we’re hosting a Hispanic Heritage Month Twitter chat in Spanish this Thursday, September 26, at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific. FTC staff will be ready to take your questions –  in Spanish.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A Healthy Check

With cold and flu season just around the corner, you might be considering ways to boost your immune system. Before you spend any money on a dietary supplement that claims it can prevent or treat the common cold, you might want to read up on two recent FTC cases.

Iovate Product Images

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Heads Up!

Here’s a heads up: we’ve updated our kids’ guide on online safety, and we’re giving away copies… for free! We encourage you to order as many as you’d like. And here’s an idea: share the Heads Up publication with the kids in your life during National Cyber Security Awareness Month coming up in October.

Heads Up Guide

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

This Discount Card Was No Deal

What would you do if you thought your insurance benefits were on the line?

The FTC has charged AFD Medical Advisors in a telemarketing scheme that allegedly targeted older people and convinced them to pay $299 for a "YourRXCard" or "RXrelief' prescription benefit card that would supposedly give them big discounts on prescription drugs. According to the FTC, the company claimed it was affiliated with Medicare, Social Security, or legitimate insurance companies, and led people to believe they had to buy the cards to continue receiving their existing insurance benefits.

medical stethoscope image

 

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

You Know Something We Don’t Know

Want to know what kind of scams we’re hearing about related to the Affordable Care Act?  Some of you have told us what you’re seeing. And we’re hoping that more of you will fill us in.

Here’s what we know so far...

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Helping Victims of the Flooding in Colorado — Make Sure Your Donations Count

It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes, businesses, pets and livestock to ravaging floodwaters. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to tug at your heartstrings and appeal to your sense of generosity.

That’s why the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams in connection with the ongoing flooding in Colorado.

Charity Scams

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Vexing Texts

Who doesn’t like to get something for free? That’s what scammers are hoping when they send out messages like this:

You've been selected for a free $1000 giftcard!

Enter the code 'FREE' at yourfavestore.com.shop.biz to get it now.

Only 112 left! Text OUT to stop.

But if you do as the text says, you’ll end up at a website that requires you to give up your personal information to claim your “free” gift. Once you’ve shared your information, the site pushes you to sign up for more than a dozen risky trial offers (which aren’t free) to qualify for the supposedly free gift card they promised you.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Hispanic Heritage Month: Empowering Latino Communities

As we kick off Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, we think of all the wonderful contributions Latinos have made throughout U.S. history. From Civil War Admiral David G. Farragut to union leaders César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, baseball’s Roberto Clemente, Nobel Prize winner Severo Ochoa and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the list of Latinos who have empowered the U.S., and all of its communities, is endless.

Ring, Ring! More Robocall Settlements

As part of its ongoing effort to end illegal robocalls, the FTC announced settlements with two more unscrupulous companies that made prerecorded calls to trick consumers into paying for deceptive credit card interest rate reduction plans.

Robocall Audio Tip

Guarding Against Identity Theft After a Weather Emergency

As you recover from a weather emergency, you will need to share personal information to get relief benefits or replacement identification documents from government agencies and organizations: Be cautious. Identity thieves may pose as government officials or representatives for government agencies. Ask for identification, and when possible, initiate contact yourself using information posted on official websites or in official information dissemination areas.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

After a Weather Emergency: Repair or Replace Appliances?

Deciding whether to repair or replace damaged appliances is an important safety issue. Corrosion of clogged parts can cause a fire, explosion or electrical shock. Consider these factors when you decide to repair or replace your appliances.

Weather Emergencies

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Who Are You?

You get a call from someone saying she works for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). She seems to know exactly who you are. She might already know your name and address, and might even know what kind of visa you’ve applied for. She says you have to pay a new fee – and, if you don’t wire money immediately, your hopes of immigrating will be lost. She might even threaten you with arrest or deportation.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A False Lens of Security

Thinking of buying an IP camera to keep an eye on your home or business when you’re away? Or maybe you‘ve already set up a security camera that you can access remotely? If so, you’ll want to read today’s news from the FTC.

Security Image

Online Payday Loan Brokers: Adding Insult to Consumer Injury

If you need some fast cash, you may be tempted by ads touting online payday loans. But before you click on a link and share your personal information, I have a cautionary tale to share.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Buying a New Car: But the ad from the dealer said…

Shopping for a new car can be fun and exciting. It also can be stressful, wading through ads and promotions offered by dealers. But a sure fire way to deflate a deal faster than hitting a spike strip on the open highway is to show up at a dealership expecting to pay the advertised price only to be told that’s not the actual price or you’re not eligible for the discounted price.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit