What do you get when you mix a fraction of truth and a whole lot of lies? The FTC’s case against scammers who allegedly operated websites that promote a fictitious “Bill Payment Government Assistance Program” — a debt relief program claiming to pay consumers’ bills and repair their credit in exchange for an advance fee.
Love breezing through tollbooths with your E-Z Pass? A new scam is taking advantage of that.
Here’s how it works: You get an email that appears to be from E-Z Pass. It has the E-Z Pass logo, and says you owe money for driving on a toll road. It also provides a link to click for your invoice.
Guess what? The email isn’t from E-Z Pass. If you click on the link, the crooks running this scam may put malware on your machine. And if you respond to the email with your personal information, they’re likely to steal your identity.
The FTC is mailing refund checks totaling more than $16 million to 18,571 people who paid American Tax Relief, a company that claimed it could reduce their tax debts. Under the settlement, the defendants turned over millions of dollars in assets, and are banned from telemarketing and selling debt relief services.
A U.S. District Court recently ordered the operators of several international tech support scams to pay more than $5.1 million for convincing people that their computers were riddled with viruses and then charging for bogus support services.
We’ve written before about tech support scammers. They call and claim to work for well-known companies like Microsoft, Norton or McAfee. They say your computer is infected with malware and then ask for remote access so they can “fix” it. Or they place ads in online search results to trick you into calling them.
Ring, ring… you get a call from a number starting with area code (876). They call to say you’ve won the “Mega Millions” Jamaican lottery, and you could even win a car! All you have to do is pay a few thousand bucks in taxes or fees, and the big jackpot is yours. That’s great news, right? Wrong.
Don’t send money to anyone who claims to have a prize for you. Odds are good that it’s a scam. And just so you know, playing a foreign lottery is against federal law.
If you are budget-conscious, you’re probably great at tracking where your money goes every month. You pore over receipts, take advantage of sales, and even research prices on big-ticket items to save the most. So how often do you review your mobile phone bill for fraudulent charges that could be draining your wallet?
Chances are you have a mobile phone – according to a Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project survey, almost 90 percent of us do. And like most of us, you may not pore over every line on your monthly phone bill to understand what you are really paying for. Too bad, because mobile cramming – adding charges to mobile bills that people didn’t authorize or know about – is an illegal practice – and it has become practically epidemic, according to the FTC.
Con artists are adept at selling — or selling you on — just about anything. When it comes to timeshare resale services, they may claim to have a buyer for your property. Or that they can sell your place quickly and for a good price. But first, you’ll have to pay a hefty fee.
If you’re a homeowner who is struggling to pay the mortgage, a website, phone call or mailer that offers to reduce your mortgage payment by several hundred dollars a month sounds awfully tempting. Unfortunately, it could turn out to be just plain awful.
Today, the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Operation Mortgage Mis-Modification, a group of lawsuits that charged companies with taking hundreds — sometimes thousands — of dollars for loan modifications, and then leaving homeowners worse off.