Homes & Mortgages

The Highlights of the Highlights

Every spring, the FTC issues its Annual Highlights for the previous year. It’s like a corporate annual report, summarizing what we did and how we did it. Interested in our mission to protect consumers? Here are some of 2014’s highlights.

Annual Highlights Image

A scammer by any other name is still a scammer

When struggling homeowners paid thousands of dollars in upfront fees to Wealth Educators, Inc., they expected help avoiding foreclosure. Although the “law firm” was quick to take their money, it did little or nothing to help save their homes, according to the FTC. And the “law firm” bit was all an act.

Avoid Foreclosure Scam video

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Homes & Mortgages

Can imported laminate wood floors make you sick?

The warm luster of laminate wood flooring can give your home or office an inviting and natural look. But, according to recent press reports, some laminates imported from China produce potentially hazardous emissions of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

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Homes & Mortgages

Cleaning up without getting cleaned out

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to say “uncle” to Old Man Winter. This year’s record-breaking snowfalls, downed trees, roof collapses, mudslides, flooding and frozen pipes are leaving overwhelming clean-up and recovery in their wake. If you’re thinking about hiring someone to help you dig out, keep these tips in mind.

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Homes & Mortgages

Looking for a place to rent?

How many hours have you spent looking at ads for apartments or houses to rent? Or asking people you know for leads on a good place?

Finding the right apartment or house might not be easy. Besides finding a place that meets your needs or wants, in an area that works, you might have questions like:

  •     Can I afford the rent and any other costs?
  •     What documents and information do I need to apply to rent a place?
  •     Will I still be able to rent if I have a bad credit history?

screen shot of rental video

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Homes & Mortgages

National Consumer Protection Week in every community

When National Consumer Protection Week starts on Sunday, it will mark the 17th year of a growing partnership. NCPW now includes 89 federal, state and local agencies and non-profits working together to connect people with the best consumer education resources.

At NCPW.gov, you’ll find resources to help you manage your money, handle credit and debt, stay safe online, avoid identity theft, and more. Read the latest news from consumer protection experts on our blog; share videos, articles, audio tips, and blog posts; order free resources; or file a complaint when you spot a scam. You’ll also get ideas on how to get involved so you can help us spread the word about consumer protection.

NCPW 2015 image

Get ready for National Consumer Protection Week!

It’s about that time again. Are you ready?

Every year, National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), encourages people and businesses to learn more about avoiding scams and understanding consumer rights. This year, NCPW takes place March 1-7, 2015. NCPW highlights free resources from government agencies and consumer organizations to help people make smarter buying decisions and spot rip-offs.

Avoid a vacation property rental scam

Ready to start booking your next vacation? Maybe you’re thinking about renting a house or condo. These days it’s easy to connect directly with property owners who advertise their vacation homes online, and you’ve probably heard wonderful stories from people who rent vacation properties. We have, too. But we’ve also heard from people who’ve fallen for vacation rental scams.

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Homes & Mortgages

No fooling: mortgage ads must tell the truth

If you’ve ever shopped for a mortgage, you know it takes time to sort through competing ads. If an online ad claimed you could “save up to $2,000 a year,” lower your mortgage payment with “no credit check” or refinance your mortgage for free with “no hidden fees,” you might think it looked pretty good and submit your personal information.

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Homes & Mortgages

Are you in the dark about utility scams?

When severe weather strikes, utility outages often are par for the course. Unfortunately, utility scams are becoming part of the drill, too.

Here’s how the scam works: Someone claiming to be with your local utility company comes around during an outage and offers to reconnect your service for a cash payment. Sure, you think it’s a bit odd that they’re asking for cash, but maybe the company’s power is out, too, and they can’t operate the computers to process payments. Besides, the person looks and sounds legitimate, and you really need your service turned on.

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Homes & Mortgages

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