You walk out of a VA facility, and see a booth with people offering free phones and cell service for veterans, all thanks to a government program. It sounds compelling, right?
“Free” might end up costing you a lot of money. The FTC has heard about booths like these — and what happens next. Months later, veterans who signed up for the program get notices saying they need to provide personal information and documents to prove they meet the income requirements — something the people pitching the program never mentioned. Many veterans find that their incomes are too high to qualify for the program, and face losing service or paying for something they thought would be free.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s barely Halloween and the Christmas decorations are up. You’re worried because you don’t have a lot of cash or don’t want to run up a lot of debt.
The good news is that some sellers offer layaway to help you spread your payments out. You start paying early and they hold on to your gifts until you pay them off. But bear in mind that layaway fees and policies can vary a great deal. Check them carefully before you sign up.
Each year, the U.S. State Department holds a Diversity Visa (DV) lottery and millions of people from eligible countries enter their names. They hope to win a chance to apply for a U.S. visa and become legal permanent residents. The State Department runs the only legitimate site for the lottery: www.dvlottery.state.gov, and there’s no fee to enter. If you get an email or see a website that claims to be about the DV lottery, but asks you to send money, don’t click on a link or give up personal information.
Counsel, FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Education
When a loved one passes away, the last thing on your mind is hassling with debt collectors. But you may have the job of managing the deceased’s assets – and you could find yourself handling an estate that includes outstanding debts. Keep these considerations in mind.
When you apply for things like cable or satellite TV, mobile phone service, or internet service, the company might review your credit report. They can use the information in your credit report to give you less favorable terms, meaning they can charge you more for the service than someone with a better credit history. That’s called risk-based pricing. The law says it’s OK as long as the company lets you know about it by sending you a Risk-Based Pricing Notice.
Phone scammers spend their days making trouble. They waste our time, tie up our phone lines and harass us with ugly language. Some do much, much worse. The FTC has heard from people who got calls from scammers saying, “I’ve kidnapped your relative,” and naming a brother, sister, child or parent. “Send ransom immediately by wire transfer or prepaid card,” they say, “or something bad will happen.”
They’re lying. They didn’t kidnap anyone, but they hope you’ll panic and rush to pay ransom before checking the story.
Recently, I told you about the new credit and debit chip cards designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting. Now, I'm reporting on scammers who are trying to take advantage of the millions of consumers who haven't yet received a chip card.
It’s been a year of weather woes, with South Carolina being the latest victim – floods have swept across much of the state. You can be sure it’s only a matter of time before scammers come calling to wreak a different type of devastation.
Here are some ways to arm yourself against scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people.