May 2014

Scammy, scammier, scammiest

Many issues were highlighted at last week’s Common Ground Conference on Native American Issues, held in Albuquerque. And some of the scams are things we see in other communities, all over the country. However. The scammy practices in Indian Country are among the most egregious we’ve seen in our collective decades of lawyering. Being a consumer in Indian Country is evidently harder (and riskier) than being a consumer elsewhere.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers continuing to pose as IRS agents

Tax season may be over, but scammers posing as IRS officials continue to call, saying people owe taxes and better pay up. They threaten to arrest or deport people, revoke a license, or even shut down a business. How do they do it? By rigging caller ID information to appear as if the IRS is calling, and sometimes even making a follow-up call claiming to be the police or the DMV.

FTC puts the brakes on national subprime auto lender

Talk about a bumpy ride for consumers!

When you get vehicle financing through a dealership, you and the dealer enter into a contract: you buy a vehicle and agree to pay, over a period of time, the amount financed plus a finance charge. The dealer may hold onto the contract, but typically, it's sold to a bank, finance company or credit union. This “assignee” is responsible for the day-to-day management of your account, including collecting and crediting your monthly payments. But sometimes, things don't go exactly as they should.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Another louse-y product not living up to its claim

It’s not often I get to write a blog post that causes phantom head scratching. Before I tell you why, fair warning: If you have kids, or simply like to huddle with friends for the latest and greatest selfie, consider this a cootie alert for: deceptive head lice repellent!

Prime refunds

The FTC sues companies that make deceptive claims about their products or services. When we settle a case we try to get refunds for consumers who lost money, if that’s possible.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

FTC report examines data brokers

In today’s economy, Big Data is big business. And data brokers — companies that collect consumers’ personal information and resell or share that information with others — play a key role.

Today, the Federal Trade Commission released a study of nine data brokers. These data brokers collect personal information about consumers from a wide range of sources — including public records, loyalty cards, websites and social media — and provide information for a wide range of purposes — including verifying someone’s identity, marketing products and detecting fraud.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Be prepared. Stay safe: National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2014

May 25 – 31, 2014 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week — a good time to prepare your family, pets, and property for extreme weather situations. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents. The FTC has information to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from different aspects of a weather emergency.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Want to fight back against cross-border fraud?

Of course, you know the FTC is the nation’s consumer protection agency. Did you know that we also work with our international partners to collect complaints and protect consumers around the world?

Today, FTC staff are meeting in Panama City with members of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network.

econsumer logo

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Once more into the breach: What eBay users need to know

As news about the eBay hack hits the media, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. First, change your eBay password. When you create your new password, keep these tips in mind.

If you used your eBay ID or password for other accounts, change them, too. Hackers sometimes try stolen IDs and passwords on different websites to gain control of other accounts. 

Don’t confirm or provide personal information in response to an email or text, and don’t click on links in unexpected messages.

Tell us about it

Job scams. Affinity fraud. Bogus – and dangerous – dietary supplements. Notario fraud. Government imposter scams. These are just a few of the issues facing consumers in California’s immigrant community – and they’re the same issues the FTC is seeing nationwide. We knew from our last Fraud Survey that many consumer scams impact Latinos and African-Americans disproportionately. What our data did not tell us is how immigrants fare, so we went straight to the source to try learn about the marketplace in immigrant communities.

Be on the lookout for timeshare resale phonies

The FTC and state consumer protection agencies have shut down dishonest timeshare resellers for bilking timeshare owners out of millions of dollars. If you’re selling a timeshare, listen carefully for the promise of lots of money quickly and a request for an upfront fee. Those are two key signs of timeshare resale scam — and someone you don’t want to do business with.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

The telltale signs of a pyramid scheme

What’s the difference between a multilevel marketing program and a pyramid scheme? Pyramid schemes are illegal.

If the money you earn is based on your sales to the public, the company may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. Here are some signs that the company is operating a pyramid scheme.

Photo of pyramid
 

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Lights out for fake utility bill collectors

The caller sounds convincing: If you don’t pay your utility bills immediately, your gas, electricity or water will be shut off. They ask you to pay using a specific — and unusual — method.

Be warned: The call probably is a trick to steal your money.

Snap. Chat. Delete?

Come on, admit it: Ever since you saw Mission: Impossible, you’ve wished you could send messages that self-destruct. Then Snapchat came along, and suddenly the impossible seemed easy. Adding a twist to photo- and video-sharing, Snapchat allows users to snap a picture, send it to a friend, and choose how long it lasts, from 1 to 10 seconds after it has been viewed. Then, poof. It disappears. Or does it?

Find Friends

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Read the truth behind deceptive mortgage ads

Getting a low interest rate on your mortgage can make a big difference in your household finances, and the internet can be a good way to compare the rates offered by various lenders. The FTC’s case against GoLoansOnline.com shows the value of shopping around and checking multiple sources of information.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Happy Mother’s Day from the FTC

Last Mother’s Day, my kids “helped” serve me breakfast in bed. No sooner had the word “surprise” left their lips than they were scrambling onto the bed to see what they could eat. After all, moms are always going on about sharing, right?

Why not show off some of your own sharing skills this Mother’s Day when you talk to the kids in your life? Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online is a free guide from the FTC that has some important information and terrific tips to share with your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews.

flowers

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Don’t get nailed by a home improvement scam

Spring has sprung, the grass is green, just watch out for scammers selling home improvement dreams.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

FTC’s Complaint Assistant: we’re going mobile

If a business doesn’t deliver on its promises or someone cheats you out of your money, the Federal Trade Commission wants to hear about it. Our new Mobile Complaint Assistant at ftcca.gov makes it possible to file a complaint using your smartphone or tablet.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Privacy Awareness Week 2014

Mobilize Your Privacy. That’s the timely theme for Privacy Awareness Week 2014, an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum that began Sunday, May 4. Check out the initiative’s website for tips that can help you protect your privacy when using mobile devices and resources to help spread the word in your community. 

How can you participate in Privacy Awareness Week? Visit OnGuardOnline.gov, the U.S. government’s website to help you stay safe, secure, and responsible online.

Privacy Awareness Week Logo

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Callers target timeshare owners for a second scam

In June 2013, the FTC sued several companies that scammed timeshare owners. The companies claimed they had interested buyers for timeshare properties. In fact, if timeshare owners paid, they found out there was no buyer — and they couldn’t get a refund.

Now, somebody is trying to rip off those timeshare owners again. Several people who previously paid Resort Solution Trust have reported to the FTC that someone recently called them claiming to be an attorney working on a case against the company. The caller said the timeshare owner was eligible for a refund, generally $1,000-$4,000 — if they first paid a “bond” or “fee,” around $800.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Wise giving after a weather emergency

The recent outbreak of tornadoes and other violent weather that took lives and pulverized homes and businesses from the Midwest to the Deep South is a sad reminder that extreme weather can occur with little warning.

As we know, when a disaster strikes, bogus charities aren’t far behind. The FTC urges you to be on guard against scam artists who try to take advantage of someone else’s tragedy.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Checking up on consumer generated health information

Whether it’s a website where people diagnosed with the same medical condition can share their stories or an app to find out how long it will take in the gym to burn off a Macadamia Mania Ripple sundae, consumers are taking their health in their own hands — and generating a massive amount of digital data in the process.

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