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.
We began 2014 by announcing that a court ordered Oro Marketing to temporarily shut down operations for bogus business practices. This phone fraud targeted Spanish-speaking Latinos, promising them packages of high-end goods that they could – supposedly – re-sell to make extra money. The company charged between $400 and $490 for the packages, but only delivered low-quality, off-brand products that were impossible to sell. According to the FTC, no one made any money – except the defendants, who misled people to steal their money.
Counsel, FTC's DIvision of Consumer & Business Education
Do you offer your professional services as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver? You may have used websites that can match you up with potential clients – sites like Care.com or Sittercity.com. These sites can be a convenient and efficient way to drum up business. But scammers may misuse these sites. FTC staff has seen hundreds of complaints about con artists cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme that asks you to send payment to a third party. Details may vary, but, in general, the scam works like this:
Listing your business in a directory can be an effective way to advertise the products or services you offer potential customers. But be sure you know what you’re getting for your money... and that you even asked for the listing in the first place.
Do you trust me because I speak Spanish? That sounds like a strange question, but in some communities – and in some situations – it could be enough for someone to trust a stranger.
At the Fraud Affects Every Community workshop recently held at FTC headquarters, we heard from panelists living and working in diverse communities about ways scammers are using language, shared customs, relationships and community practices to steal people’s money.
Selling your used stuff online has become commonplace. So have scams taking advantage of the good names of reputable online companies. At the FTC, we’ve heard from people stung by scammers spoofing PayPal. The scam generally goes like this: You post a high-value item, like a used car, for sale online. In no time at all, you get an email from a buyer willing to pay full price — or more! But he sets conditions; he is only willing to pay by PayPal or insists the sale must happen right away. What’s really going on? A ruse to steal your personal information, money or merchandise.
Here are some suspicious situations to look for and steps to safe selling online.
All of us are part of some kind of community, however we define that. Asian-American. Service member. Latino. Older adult.
Here at the FTC, we’re wondering what the marketplace looks like in different communities, and thinking about how fraud creeps in. We’ve seen some examples of fraud targeting specific groups. In fact, we recently filed a case against alleged phone scammers who targeted older adults, pretended to be from Medicare, and took millions from consumers’ bank accounts.
But we want to hear from people working in different communities directly: what does fraud look like where you are?
If you’re looking to run your own business, you might be tempted by ads that claim you can buy into a ready-made business opportunity and make a lot of money. But some companies touting big earnings are promising more than they can deliver, and the FTC is taking action to stop them.
I confess… I once was a mystery shopper. Decades ago, I shopped at stores to see what they were charging for certain products and visited restaurant chains to evaluate the food and service. I wrote up a report, sent it in, and received a check for my work. Nothing I could make a living from, but it helped fill the gas tank.
Back then, it didn’t occur to me that responding to a mystery or secret shopper ad could set me up for a scam. Now I know – if you’re looking to make extra money as a mystery shopper, it pays to do some homework to make sure the job is real.