March 2014

FTC shuts down multi-million dollar phone scam

What do you say to a group of thieves that steal more than $20 million from tens of thousands of older consumers? The FTC says, “Gotcha!”

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Helping victims of the Washington State mudslide — Make sure your donations count

When disaster strikes, you can be sure that scam artists will be close behind. The latest example is the massive mudslide in Oso, Washington.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How secure is that mobile app?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, people used phones primarily to call each other. Strange, huh?

Today, in this galaxy, many of us depend on our phones to take care of everyday tasks like waking up on time, keeping track of our calories, and sharing photos and updates. Need movie tickets? Tap, tap, and done. Want to track your credit history and get free credit scores? Yep, you can do that, too.

Unfortunately, according to the FTC, apps don’t always secure the information they send and receive, and that could lead to serious problems for users. Two companies the FTC is focusing on today: Fandango and Credit Karma. The FTC says these popular services didn’t properly secure information sent through their apps — including credit card numbers (Fandango) and Social Security numbers (Credit Karma).

diagram of a man in the middle attack

An app that does not validate its security certificate leaves users vulnerable to “man in the middle” attacks.

 

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Planning a funeral? Know your rights

Planning a funeral can be challenging, whether you’re making arrangements ahead of time, or helping others at a time of need. The Funeral Rule, enforced by the FTC, gives you rights that can make planning a funeral more satisfactory. We recently updated our information for consumers about funeral planning.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Gone to Carolina

Do you ever wonder how fraud varies from place to place? Why what’s big in one community might not have reached another? The FTC wonders these things. Then we go find out what’s going on – like we did last week in North Carolina, where the question was: what are the consumer protection issues facing immigrant communities there?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC drives settlement with Massachusetts auto dealer

As part of the FTC’s crackdown on deceptive practices related to the sale, financing, and leasing of motor vehicles, Courtesy Auto Group of Attleboro, Massachusetts has agreed to settle charges that it deceptively advertised that consumers could lease a vehicle for $0 down and specific monthly payments. In fact, the advertised amounts did not mention substantial fees that the dealer charged.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Dialing for Dollars

There’s a new scam going around – and if your family name is from South Asia, there’s a chance you already know about it. If the scam sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been around for years, targeting one group, then another. Right now, the people being targeted seem to be from India and Pakistan; tomorrow: who can say?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Mind your business (opportunity)

Many people dream about being their own boss. Controlling their own schedule, running things their way, and being in charge of their own earning potential? What’s not to love?

Chasing that dream wisely, though, means knowing the difference between a legitimate opportunity and a scam.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

New report highlights alcohol industry efforts to reduce advertising and marketing to teens

Did you know that alcohol companies have voluntary guidelines for where they place ads? 

For example, alcohol companies agree that they will advertise on television programs and websites where at least 70% of the audience is comprised of people 21 and older, based on reliable data.

But do they really keep their promises?

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Outlet shopping: Getting your money’s worth

Who doesn’t like a bargain? I know I do. And anytime I go to the beach on vacation, I head for the outlet malls. One-stop shopping for everything from clothes, shoes and handbags to housewares and home furnishings to luggage and more, with labels I know and trust. And at prices that can’t be beat.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

We want to get your money back!

“They got me.”

If you’ve ever been taken in by a bogus product or service, that may be the first thing you think just as you get that sinking feeling in your stomach.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Saving gas money on your spring break road trip

Hitting the highway on a road trip this spring? If you’re traveling on a budget, here are a few tips to help you save gas money.

Image of car at gas station

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC to used car dealers: Play by the rules or pay the price

The FTC’s Used Car Rule has been the law of the land since 1985. It requires used car dealers to post a Buyers Guide on cars they offer for sale. The Guide gives customers important warranty and other information to help them make an informed buying decision.

So when Abernathy Motor Company failed to display a single Buyers Guide on all of the used cars for sale at its Jonesboro, Arkansas location — even after the FTC warned the company about the violation — the agency said it’s time to pay the piper.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A lotto malarkey

At the FTC, we’ve been warning people away from foreign lottery scams for years. So when one of our colleagues recently got an official-looking mailer from Canada, titled “RE: PRIZE WINNING NOTIFICATION,” we turned to our own advice to check it out.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Fake feds get people to pay

Have you ever gotten one of these calls? Someone says they’re with a government agency or the sheriff’s office and threatens that you’ll be sued or arrested if you don’t pay a supposed debt.

But really, the people contacting you are imposters looking to scare you into sending them money.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A ‘versatile’ way to get around the Do Not Call list

Some companies can be very sneaky these days. Especially when they buy lists of consumers’ phone numbers from companies that falsely claim those consumers have given written consent to get sales calls despite being on the National Do Not Call registry.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Let’s celebrate Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. At the FTC, we celebrate and honor the many female leaders whose work has significantly impacted the agency’s mission.

What’s a predictive score?

Most consumers know that creditors use information about them and their credit experiences – like the number and type of accounts they have, their bill paying history, and whether they pay their bills on time – to create a credit score, which helps predict how credit worthy they are. (And if they don’t, they can learn about credit scores at the FTC’s Consumer Center.) What most consumers don’t know is that data brokers offer companies scores for other purposes unrelated to credit – for example, for marketing, advertising, identity verification, and fraud prevention. Businesses use these scores to decide which transactions require further scrutiny, what offers and prices to offer certain consumers, and even in what order to answer a consumer’s customer service call.

Spring Privacy Series logo

Check, please? Background check, that is.

So, you’re about to begin a new job search, and you’re ticking items off your to-do list.

  • You’ve set up an online account so you’ll know about new job openings.
  • You’ve polished your resume — and your shoes.
  • You’ve run through some possible interview questions with a friend.

Have you requested your annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com?

two people shaking hands over a desk

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

From Las Vegas to the world

Earlier this week, law enforcement, legal services attorneys, consumer advocates and nearly 120 other people found common ground in Las Vegas. The Federal Trade Commission put together “Protecting Nevada’s Consumers: A Common Ground Conference” to discuss the consumer protection issues facing Nevadans. What did we learn? That Nevadans face some unique challenges – but many more are the same kinds of challenges we see across the region and country.

Can you believe that review?

Ever hear an expert review on a news segment or talk show? The experts might recommend a number of products, and hey, they’ve tried out the products themselves — and they’re experts appearing on reputable programs — so they must know what they’re talking about, right? Since they’re portrayed as independent reviewers, you may be more likely to believe what they say.

What if we told you these experts aren’t always as impartial as they seem, and what you’re hearing might be a sales pitch?

Photo of woman watching TV

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Data breaches: What’s a person to do?

Recent headlines about data breaches at retail stores and universities may have you wondering if there’s anything you can do to help protect your credit going forward. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says the answer is yes. One option is a credit freeze.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Message sent, message received: Precious metal marketers agree to FTC settlement

As part of the Federal Trade Commission's ongoing efforts to stop scammers who target older people, the operator of a bogus precious metals telemarketing scheme that bilked millions of dollars from them is permanently banned from selling any investment opportunity under a settlement with the agency.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money