January 2014

An Online Payday Loan Or Window To A Scam?

Strapped for cash? You might think an online payday loan is a quick and easy way to help stretch your money. But before you enter your bank account or any other personal information on a payday loan website, back away from the keyboard! That online payday loan might be a window to a scam.

We Want to Hear From You!

Veterans and their families deserve truthful information when choosing how and where to use their military education benefits. Are you getting the straight scoop on what your program will cost, the likelihood of graduating and the chances for getting a job in your field? If you’re not getting the information you need to make an informed decision, the FTC and its agency partners want to know.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Data Privacy: Taking It Personally

Quick. In 2012, what was the number one complaint submitted to the FTC?

You guessed it: Identity theft. And it has been the number one complaint for 13 years straight.

That makes Data Privacy Day the ideal time to think about how you can protect your identity.

Latanya Sweeney, the FTC’s Chief Technologist, recently told us that something as simple as an online resume could be a treasure trove for identity thieves. It turns out that a web search can reveal the names, Social Security numbers, and birthdates of thousands of people because this information appears in many online resumes.

The New Net Cetera: Hot off the Press

This just in: The revision of the FTC’s free guide, Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online, is hot off the press. The booklet has updated tips for parents, teachers, and other adults to use when talking with kids about online safety and digital citizenship.

Net Cetera booklet

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

An Unfortunate Fact About Shopping

Another day, another announcement about a data breach.

As news trickles out about retailers that have been hacked, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. Even if you’re not sure that your accounts have been affected, you can do a few things to protect your accounts, your money, and your credit reputation.

a shopper hands over a credit card

Ending a Spam Scam about the Affordable Care Act

The Federal Trade Commission has sued one of the world’s reputedly biggest spammers and the company it says he used to send thousands of false, alarming and threatening emails disguised as information about the Affordable Care Act.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Easier Said Than Dune

A dune buggy struggles near the top of a steep sand dune — some optimistic off-roader clearly overestimated what it could do. But wait — a Nissan Frontier suddenly zooms up the hill and powerfully pushes the buggy over. It’s amazing — even the people standing there can’t believe it! No really, they can’t. Because it didn’t really happen, the FTC says.

sand dunes

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

What Are You Doing on Data Privacy Day?

Data Privacy Day is just around the corner — January 28. What a good time to do something about protecting your personal information, online and off.

Data Privacy Day Logo

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Shopping For a Home Appliance?

Is it the right color? Right size? How does it stack up in terms of energy efficiency? Those are some top questions for anyone shopping for a home appliance. EnergyGuide labels, created by the Federal Trade Commission, are one key source of information. They show an appliance’s estimated annual energy use, energy cost and key features.

energy guide labels

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Time to Change gDiapers’ Product Claims

When you’re caring for a baby, diapers and wipes rank high on the list of essential products. And when a company advertises those products as biodegradable, compostable, or “eco-friendly,” it’s essential that those claims are accurate and truthful. Down to Earth Designs, Inc., which makes gDiapers, has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that the ‘green’ claims it made for its disposable diaper pants, liners and baby wipes were deceptive.

gDiaper Ad

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

You can rent a movie, a car, furniture or electronics of various kinds. And now, you can rent tires. You read it right: rental tires. They are, it turns out, a growing business.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Network of ID Theft Victim Assistance Coalitions – Here to Help

Being a victim of identity theft can be complicated and frustrating. While it may take time to figure out what happened and begin to fix the damage from this crime, there are programs and trained victim service providers available to help you through the process.

tax identity theft awareness week logo

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Keeping Your Credit Report in Check

Have you ever tried to pay for things with a check and the transaction was declined even though you had money in the bank? It might be because a consumer reporting agency gave the retailer negative information about your credit history – including your checking account history – or indicated that you could be a bad credit risk for other reasons.

Check Your Credit Report

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

An In-App Surprise: How to Lose Hundreds in 15 Minutes

Quick: name a way your kids could rack up hundreds of dollars in charges in under 15 minutes without you being the wiser.

One answer: through an app on your iPhone or other Apple device.

Today, the FTC announced that it has reached a settlement with Apple, resolving allegations that the company didn’t get parental consent for many of the charges racked up by their children in kids’ games.

Who’s Watching Tax Preparers?

Have you ever wondered how ID thieves get their victims’ personal and financial information? One way you may not have thought of is dishonest tax preparers. Each year, Treasury agents investigate allegations of criminal misconduct by tax preparers — a group that plays an important part in our nation’s tax system.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Help for Homeowners Hurt by Sham Mortgage Relief Company

A homeowner who’s worried about foreclosure or desperate to refinance might listen to a caller who promises to help. Unfortunately, not all cold-calling telemarketers do what they promise. Enter the Federal Trade Commission’s nearly $3.6 million settlement with Prime Legal Plans.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

National Taxpayer Advocate: Help Is Available for Victims of Identity Theft

When identity thieves target taxpayers to obtain improper tax refunds, it causes serious consequences for the victim and for the IRS. The IRS is taking steps to make it more difficult for perpetrators to successfully file falsified returns using others’ personal information (prevention) and to make it more costly if caught doing so (deterrence). But as the voice of the taxpayer, my focus is on IRS’s victim assistance to those who find themselves impacted by identity theft.

tax identity theft awareness week logo

 

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

To robocall scammers who lied about free medical alert devices: We’ve got your number

The FTC warned people last summer about illegal prerecorded sales calls from scammers pitching safety alert systems for older adults. And now, the FTC and the Florida Attorney General have acted to temporarily halt and freeze the assets of an Orlando-based operation that not only used illegal robocalls to pitch so-called “free” medical alert devices to older consumers, but also lied about the cost and quality. The FTC and the Florida AG are working to permanently ban the operation from illegally pitching their products and to get refunds for victims.

Phone image

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

It’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

Tax ID thieves are ready — are you?

Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job, and it’s one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft in the U.S. You might find out it’s happened when you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t know.

tax identity theft awareness week logo

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Getting Information About Funeral Arrangements

When you arrange a funeral, you have many decisions to make. Accurate information makes it easier to sort through your choices. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Funeral Rule, which requires funeral providers to give consumers certain information about their goods and services.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Deceptive car ads can spin your wheels

“Only $99/Month” — If “only” were the truth. One thing’s for sure: There’s no shortage of advertising if you’re in the market for a new set of wheels.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Dream Creams

Gingerbread…eggnog...champagne. The holiday season is over! After enjoying some end-of-the-year indulgences, you may be thinking about how to reshape your body. What if you just had to slather on some cream to get a slim sculpted shape? Sounds like a dream come true, right?

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Claims for genetically customized nutritional supplements: Show me the proof!

When it comes to treatments for health conditions, it can be tough to tell useful products from those that don’t work as claimed. Dietary supplements may seem like harmless health boosters. But while some have proven benefits, many don't.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Sensa-tionalistic Claims Don’t Shake Off the Pounds

Does the claim that sprinkling powder on your food to help you lose weight – without dieting or exercising – sound more like magic pixie dust to you?

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Putting the Squeeze on Bogus Weight Loss Products

Looking for a product to help you lose weight? Ask some questions before you plunk down any money. For example: “Will I really lose a pound a day if I squirt a few drops of homeopathic hCG weight loss drops under my tongue before I eat?” No, you won’t, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s recent settlement with HCG Diet Direct, LLC, a company that marketed and sold the drops.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Order Your Materials in Time for NCPW!

By now, you probably know that National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is an annual event to highlight free resources from government agencies and consumer advocacy organizations that can help people make smarter buying decisions and spot scams.  NCPW 2014 is March 2 – 8.

Tech Support Scams: Part 2

They’re baaaack!

No, not poltergeists. Scammers. And they want your last penny.

We’ve written before about tech support scams — where a caller claims that your computer has a terrible virus and needs immediate attention. The scammer asks for remote access and then charges you for “fixing” a problem that wasn’t there.

Now, they’re working the phones again, and they claim that if you paid for tech support services, they can get you a refund.

Computer Screen Warning

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

A Work At Home Opportunity That’s Not So Golden

Looking to make some extra cash? So are scammers. Listen to this one about a telemarketing resale scam targeting Spanish-speakers nationwide.