Tax season is here. It’s time to get your files and forms in order. You may be well-versed in W-2s and 1099’s, but do you know that an identity thief can mess up your tax files or even get to your tax refund before you can file for it?
You read the news to get the facts. But what happens when that “newsy” site isn’t news at all?
A company that used fake news sites to push acai berry supplements and other weight loss products has agreed to settle FTC charges. The agency has already stopped others that used wanna-be news sites and phony testimonials from supposed reporters to push their products. The M.O. is to make people think the site — and the reporters — are part of legitimate and trusted news organizations, name-dropping CNN and Consumer Reports, among others, to add credibility. But the fact is the sites were ads, masquerading as news.
If you owe back taxes, you may be tempted to turn to companies that claim they can reduce or eliminate your tax debts and stop back-tax collection by applying for IRS hardship programs. The truth is that most people don’t qualify for the programs these fraudsters hawk, their companies don’t settle the tax debt, and in many cases they don’t even send the necessary paperwork to the IRS.
The FTC recently settled a case against American Tax Relief, which bilked consumers out of more than $100 million by falsely claiming it could reduce their tax debts. Under the settlement, the scammers are banned from telemarketing and selling debt relief services, and must surrender more than $15 million in cash and assets to settle charges that they violated federal law.
Owning a car can be a big responsibility. And while you may have gotten up to speed on proper tire inflation and when to replace worn wiper blades, there are some other key things to know.
For instance, if you took out a loan to buy your car, you don’t own the car until you pay off the loan. If you don’t pay, the lender can repossess the car. You might be tempted by companies that promise to lower your monthly car payments if you pay them a fee first. They might even claim they can help you stop the repossession process. Put on the brakes. Those promises usually are lies or half-truths from scammers who can’t possibly deliver.
Have you seen websites or ads, or gotten telephone calls that say a home-based internet business could be your ticket to making easy cash? Some claim a business coaching program will help you get going. Before you respond to an offer for business coaching services, keep your money in your wallet and your eye on a recent case brought by the FTC.
It’s that time of year again. If you’re a college student seeking financial aid, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can. While the deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 30th, many states and schools allocate funds on a first-come, first-served basis, and some states have deadlines for filing the FAFSA to be eligible for certain kinds of aid.
Assistant Director, Consumer & Business Education, FTC
A favorite trick for rip-off artists is to pretend to represent a trust-worthy and respected organization. Today – and we mean that literally -- we’re hearing from businesses that have received email exploiting the good name of the Federal Trade Commission. We don’t want you to lose money or valuable information to a scam artist sending a phony message claiming you’re a target of the FTC.
Immigration can be a complicated process. It’s reasonable to want help navigating it. And it’s vital to find qualified help. But it’s equally important to be careful about who helps you. Friends and relatives may offer advice, or a business owner or notario may promise good results for a low fee. Here at the Federal Trade Commission, we hear from people who have gotten bad advice from trusted friends and relatives or who have lost their money to unscrupulous notarios. In the worst cases, they’ve lost their chance to immigrate.