Severe weather and historic flooding have left people in many parts of the U.S. battling to save lives, homes and businesses. The last thing anyone needs are scam artists who prey on the misfortune of others. Common natural disaster scams include debris removal and clean-up, shoddy repairs and construction, charity fraud, and imposter scams.
Here are some ways to arm yourself against scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people.
As the year comes to a close, you might be getting lots of requests for charitable donations. If a cause tugs at your heartstrings, but the charity is unfamiliar to you, take a few minutes – and a few steps – before giving.
Chances are, the older people in your life are wise to scams – and may even have taught you how to spot and avoid them. But, if you’re spending time together over the holidays, here are some things you can do to make sure that your friend or loved one is safe from a fraudster’s grasp.
Assistant Director, Division of Marketing Practices, FTC
Who isn’t looking for a little extra cash at the holidays? An offer for an easy – and fun – job could seem like just what you need. That’s the email offer I got from a major retailer (or so it said) last week:
“Holidays are coming we need you in our team. We are hiring holiday shoppers. No experience needed, just an honest opinion. The job requires you to shop and evaluate our employees. You will get paid to shop and keep the products.”
While there are legit mystery shopper jobs out there, we almost never see them in offers that show up in your inbox. Or in the classified ads. Or on telephone poles. Or on your phone. So, before you apply, here are some things to think about.
Concerned about data breaches and identity theft? Living on your own for the first time and thinking about budgeting, credit, renting an apartment or buying a car? Were you the victim of a scam? Misled by false advertising claims? Or do you just want to get smarter about products and services you’re considering?
Whatever’s happening in your world, when it comes to protecting your money and guarding your information, National Consumer Protection Week is a great time to get the best consumer resources from federal, state and local agencies and consumer advocacy groups across the nation. NCPW 2016 is March 6-12.
Assistant Director, Division of Financial Practices, FTC
If you’re a regular reader here, you might know the FTC gets more complaints about debt collection than about any other industry. And you might have read a thing or two about what we do about debt collection. Like the giant law enforcement sweep last month, where 70 partners nationwide brought more than 115 cases against bad debt collectors. Or the cases we bring ourselves – and the refunds we’ve gotten for people. Or the nearly 100 debt collectors we’ve banned from the industry.
These efforts have stopped a lot of bad guys: put them out of business, taken the cars and houses they bought with the money they stole, and helped clean up the debt collection industry. But your reports of ongoing bad behavior tell us there’s more to do. So this year, we decided to add a new approach into the mix.
Looking to be eco-friendly as you shop this holiday season? Maybe it’s bamboo socks from J.C. Penney or Backcountry.com as stocking stuffers. Or those cute bamboo baby swaddles from buybuy BABY for your newborn niece. For your next holiday party, maybe those silky bamboo napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond, or that soft bamboo dress you’ve been eyeing from Nordstrom.
But wait a second. The FTC recently sued those retailers for selling products labeled or advertised as “bamboo.” Why? Because those products were actually made of rayon, according to the FTC, and calling them bamboo is wrong — and misleading.
Staff Attorney, Division of Financial Practices, FTC
Debt collectors make up to one billion contacts with consumers each year. It’s their job to make sure they’re collecting from the right people. But sometimes, they reach the wrong person. Other times, they’re actually part of a fake debt collection scam.
If you don’t recognize a debt, here’s what you can do.
Senior Attorney, Division of Litigation Technology and Analysis, FTC
In case you hadn’t noticed, the holidays are here. In other words, “Attention holiday shoppers: start your search engines!” But wouldn’t it be nice to know how much gas you’ve got in the tank before you’re off to the races?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Sound financial planning begins with a sensible budget. Many of us welcome the New Year realizing we’ve spent more than we can afford. So why not take a quick look at our brief video about staying within a budget before you start spending?