December 2013

Money Transfer Scams

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service recently distributed thousands of checks totaling $46 million to people who lost money in scams that involved MoneyGram, a popular money transfer service.

According to law enforcement officials, from 2004 to 2009, MoneyGram turned a blind eye to scam artists and money launderers who used the company to commit fraud. During that time, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. lost money to a variety of money transfer scams, including fake lottery and prize scams, family emergency scams, and “guaranteed” loan scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers Targeting Target Shoppers

If you’ve been following the news this holiday season, you’ve probably heard that Target shoppers may have been affected by the recent data breach. Target notified their customers of the breach via email.

Unfortunately, scammers follow the news, too. Scam artists may send out phony “Target” emails pretending to help, but they actually want to trick you into giving them your personal information. And they are skilled at making the emails look real. If you get an email that says it’s from Target, here’s what to look out for to make sure you don’t get scammed.
 

Shopping for Just the Right Gift

The clock is ticking, and you’re on the hook to find just the right gift this holiday season. Perhaps you’re shopping at the last minute; maybe the giftee is really picky; or, if you’re like I am, maybe you just don’t feel like dealing with wrapping paper! Regardless, a gift card or certificate may seem like a great solution: it’s a quick buy for you and it presents plenty of options for that person on your list.

As you go shopping for gift cards, remember to read the fine print before you buy. Yeah, time is precious and you may not have enough of it to read the details, but there are a few important things to look for.

Gift-wrapped money
 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Refunds to Consumers Who Bought Dietary Supplements

The Federal Trade Commission is distributing a total of $5.9 million in refunds to more than 316,000 people who bought various products that claimed to help people lose weight and prevent cancer. The FTC said that Central Coast Nutraceuticals, Inc., used misleading claims, deceptive free trial offers, and phony endorsements to market Acai Pure as a weight loss product and Colotox as a cancer prevention supplement, and must refund money to consumers who bought them.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Are you affected by the recent Target hack?

Target has announced that any credit or debit card used in a Target store in the U.S. between November 27 and December 15 may have been compromised. According to the announcement, the stolen information includes the customer’s name, credit or debit card number, and the card’s expiration date and CVV1 (a security code stored on your card's magnetic stripe).

In light of this announcement, the FTC has this advice...

Using Bed Rails Safely

Adults living at home, in an assisted living facility or a nursing home may use portable bed rails for help getting in and out of bed. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have new resources for consumers, caregivers, and health care providers about bed rails — how to shop for them, how to install and use them safely, what risks they may create, and where to report a problem.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

This is an A and B conversation so C your way to the privacy seminar

There’s so much to look forward to in the spring — warmer weather, cherry blossoms, March madness, spring break, and… privacy seminars. That’s right: nothing says spring quite like the FTC’s upcoming Spring Privacy Series. These two-hour seminars will explore new and emerging technologies and their impact on consumer privacy.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Avoiding Debt-Relief Scams

If you’re looking for a way to manage your debt, the last thing you need is to get ripped off by a company that promises to help. According to the Federal Trade Commission, that’s what happened to people who paid hundreds of dollars each to Southeast Trust, LLC. The company contacted people through illegal robocalls and claimed it was a non-profit group that could get them credit card interest rates as low as zero percent. The FTC recently got a $2.7 million judgment against the company and banned it from making illegal robocalls and providing debt- and mortgage-relief services.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How to Beat a Mobile Cramming Scam

Have you checked your mobile phone bill lately? See any charges for random text messages you get? Not reading your statement with an eye out for fraudulent charges crammed onto your bill can be a costly mistake.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Get Cozy With Home Energy Savings

If you’re a homeowner, you know there’s more to getting set for cold weather than digging out your coat, scarf, and favorite fuzzy boots; it’s time to make sure your home is winter-ready too. More than half the energy a typical home uses goes toward heating and cooling. The Federal Trade Commission has some energy saving tips to help you get the most from the energy you use and avoid a home-heating scam.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Stopping a Phony Mortgage Lender

Many homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments look for practical payment alternatives: they might try to convince the lender to modify the loan terms, ask for a temporary reduction, or maybe try to refinance the loan. The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with American Mortgage Consulting Group illustrates one alternative to stay away from: paying a company a fee to modify a mortgage before they deliver the results they promise.

Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Donate??

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, you may be thinking about donating to your favorite charities. This time of year also brings more attention to our deployed personnel, their families living stateside and our veterans. Lots of folks wonder how they can support the troops. Many organizations tout themselves as a way to give back to those who serve. But not all charities are legitimate – some are out to make a buck for themselves. Some spend more money paying their fundraisers than supporting the military community. Here are a few things you can do to prevent shady groups from cashing in on the cachet of the military.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Minimum Payments Can Undo a Deal

For many of us, the holiday season and shopping go hand-in-hand; it can be tough not to pounce on those big deals when you see them. But if you use a credit card to pay, remember you’re borrowing money you’ll have to pay back. What’s more, if you’re counting on making only your card’s minimum payment, you could end up paying much more in interest than you’d save on the deal.

Thumbnail with play button

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC’s National Campaign To Help Reduce Underage Drinking

“The legal drinking age is 21. Thanks for not providing alcohol to teens.”

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Sharing Your Location… In a Flash

Imagine this: You’re at home one evening when a sudden storm knocks out your power. You reach for that flashlight you keep in the kitchen drawer just for emergencies. You flip the switch, and the flashlight asks for your location. That would be weird, huh?

Well, that could be exactly what’s happening — on your phone.
Blue smartphone

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Millions Choose Do Not Call

You may be devoted to your phone, but not so thrilled about some of the calls you get. If you want fewer telemarketing calls, add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. It’ll be in good company: the Registry has a total of 223 million active numbers whose owners chose to limit the telemarketing calls they get.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Funeral Planning: Your Right to Information

If you’re planning a funeral — either making arrangements with family or friends before you have to or when a loved one dies — you need information about all sorts of things. The FTC conducts undercover inspections of funeral homes to make sure they’re complying with the federal regulation that gives you the right to get an itemized price list before you commit to any arrangements.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Selling a Car? Watch For A New Telemarketing Scam

The scenario: You want to sell your car without any hassles for a fair price. So you place an ad on a community website hoping for a quick sale. Shortly thereafter, you get a call from what sounds like an auto company. For a fee, the company promises to put you in touch with a buyer. If your car isn’t sold, they promise to refund your money. So you go ahead and pay the fee, and wait for the company to present a buyer for your car.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

When AdsblendwithContent

These days, it’s not always clear where news or entertainment ends and advertisements begin. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission is gearing up for its “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?” workshop on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. Panelists at the daylong workshop will look at advertising that resembles the content it’s embedded with.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit