According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa has taken the lives of more than 4,000 people. Many people are asking how they can help. If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.
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.
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education
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.
How low can scammers go? As low as stealing from older consumers to line their own pockets. The FTC says some scammers claimed to be calling on behalf of the government to verify information for a new Medicare card or Medicare-related package. In fact, it was a ruse to get people’s bank account information to make unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts.
The FTC’s second Spanish-language fotonovela is about scams that promise you can make money selling high-end products or brand-name merchandise. If the pitch sounds familiar, that’s because the story is based on facts from a recent FTC lawsuit against a company that targeted Spanish speakers nationwide. Income Scams tells the story of Fatima, a consumer who is looking for a way to earn some extra money.
This is the Civil Investigations Unit. We are contacting you in regards to a complaint being filed against you, pursuant to claim and affidavit number D00D-2932, where you have been named a respondent in a court action and must appear… Please forward this information to your attorney in that the order to show cause contains a restraining order. You or your attorney will have 24 to 48 hours to oppose this matter… Call 757-555-1234.
The Federal Trade Commission works closely with legal services providers and consumer advocates to root out frauds affecting communities across the nation. Several of our partners have told us about an income scam that’s targeting Latino organizations -- even churches. Here’s how it works:
At the Federal Trade Commission, when we say we protect the nation’s consumers, we mean that the agency protects every community in the nation from fraud and scams. This includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, older consumers, lower-income communities, and veterans and service members.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s a good time to look back on how the FTC has worked to protect the Latino community, in particular, in the past year. Here are some highlights: