Phantom debts – sounds a little like a ghostly Halloween prank. Unfortunately, it’s no joke. Some fake debt collectors may try deception and threats to pressure you to pay debts that you don’t owe. The FTC recently obtained a temporary restraining order in a case against debt collectors, Pinnacle Payment Services, Lisa Jeter, her partners and related companies about just these kinds of practices. The court order shuts down the operation, pending trial.
Imagine getting a phone message like this:
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.
Who wouldn’t be spooked? The FTC has gotten almost 3,000 complaints about messages like this.
Imagine this: it’s the hottest day of the year. (Or, since we’re getting into Fall, the coldest.) Someone from your utility company calls to say they’re about to cut off your power. You check the caller ID, and it looks like the right number – at least, it’s in your area code. You know you’ve paid your bill, and you can’t imagine what happened – but you also know you can’t afford to lose power. So what do you do?
Con artists are trying to steal money from people by falsely claiming they are associated with the federal courts, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The imposters tell people they are entitled to refunds as part of cases brought by the FTC against companies that engaged in timeshare resale fraud. People are told they must pay several hundred dollars in “court costs,” “processing fees” or “filing fees” to get their refunds. The scammers may use an actual FTC case number to lend some legitimacy to their pitch. DO NOT GIVE THESE IMPOSTERS MONEY. THIS IS A SCAM.
Starting October 1, people will have new ways to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. As opening day approaches, the media will no doubt carry more stories about the Health Insurance Marketplace, how to enroll, and where to get legitimate help. Now that’s the kind of news you can use.
One other piece of news that’s useful: federal and state agencies are working together to encourage consumers to report scammers who use the Health Insurance Marketplace as bait.
What would you do if you thought your insurance benefits were on the line?
The FTC has charged AFD Medical Advisors in a telemarketing scheme that allegedly targeted older people and convinced them to pay $299 for a "YourRXCard" or "RXrelief' prescription benefit card that would supposedly give them big discounts on prescription drugs. According to the FTC, the company claimed it was affiliated with Medicare, Social Security, or legitimate insurance companies, and led people to believe they had to buy the cards to continue receiving their existing insurance benefits.
It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes, businesses, pets and livestock to ravaging floodwaters. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to tug at your heartstrings and appeal to your sense of generosity.
That’s why the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams in connection with the ongoing flooding in Colorado.
Who doesn’t like to get something for free? That’s what scammers are hoping when they send out messages like this:
You've been selected for a free $1000 giftcard!
Enter the code 'FREE' at yourfavestore.com.shop.biz to get it now.
Only 112 left! Text OUT to stop.
But if you do as the text says, you’ll end up at a website that requires you to give up your personal information to claim your “free” gift. Once you’ve shared your information, the site pushes you to sign up for more than a dozen risky trial offers (which aren’t free) to qualify for the supposedly free gift card they promised you.