Consumer Information Blog

Light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Thanks to a request by the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has ordered a light bulb company to ante up $21 million for refunds to consumers who bought their LED bulbs. At issue were misleading and exaggerated claims by a company called Lights of America Inc.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Mystery shopper scam strikes again

It sounds pretty good: you walk into a store like any other customer. Then 20 minutes later, you’re done, ready to write a report that will earn you $50. And then you can do it again.

If Shopper Systems and some companies like it were to be believed, mystery shopping jobs like this were not only widely available, but could generate “insane profit.” All for just $2.95 for training and a week’s trial, then $49.95 a month after that for an up-to-date list of interested retailers — and you’d be free to cancel any time.

But they couldn’t be believed, the FTC says.

picture of shopping bags

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Back, back, back it up

You’ve heard it a million times: Don’t click on links in an email unless you know who sent it and what it is.

But sometimes the link in an email is just so darned convenient. For example, you ship a package to a friend, and then you get an email with a link to track the delivery. It’s safe to click that link, right?

Maybe not.

Cryptolocker Ransom Note

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Random text message? No real prize is waiting for you

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Don’t reply to — or click on — a link for a random text message you see on your phone saying that you’ve won a prize, gift card or an expensive electronic like an iPad. It’s most likely a scam.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

When your phone speaks volumes

People share information about themselves every day by using store loyalty cards, internet search engines, social networking sites, and online coupons. Many people — like the character in this video — decide that the benefits of these services are worth sharing some personal information with businesses, ad networks, and others.

But what if you shared information simply by walking through your local mall with your phone? What if businesses used your phone’s Wi-Fi signal to track your movements through their stores? And what if they did it without your knowledge or okay?  The FTC plans to raise those questions in a seminar on Mobile Device Tracking on February 19, 2014. It’s the first event of our Spring Privacy Series.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Managing someone else’s money

A friend at the office was just asked to serve as the guardian of her aunt’s property and help manage her finances. That started a conversation around the lunch table: It turns out that several of us know people who have signed papers making them responsible for helping a friend or family member manage their money or property — that is, who serve as fiduciaries. 

Fiduciary responsibilities depend on the needs and circumstances of the person you’re helping and on state law, but all fiduciaries have basic legal duties. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau describes the duties in a new series of publications

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Fake funeral notice can be deadly — for your computer

Scam artists are forever trying to trick people into clicking on links that will download malware to their computers. But the latest scam takes the tricks to a new low. Scammers are sending bogus emails with the subject line "funeral notification." The message appears to be from a legitimate funeral home, offers condolences, and invites you to click on a link for more information about the upcoming "celebration of your friend’s life service." But instead of sending you to the funeral home's website, the link sends you to a foreign domain where the scammers download malware to your computer.

Malware, short for “malicious software," includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

It might not be you they’re after

If you’re lookin’ for love (sometimes in all the wrong places), chances are you’ll wind up on an online dating site at some point. Those who use dating sites can attest: you’ll meet some nice people there – and you’ll probably meet some weird people, too. You’ll have good dates and bad (and great and awful). And, unfortunately, as some people can attest, you might just meet some scammers.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Busted flat, but not in Baton Rouge

As an agency with civil law enforcement authority, the FTC likes a criminal bust as much as anyone. And, just last month, our colleagues at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) delivered a good one. Listen to this.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Reset a resolution for Safer Internet Day

It’s been 42 days since New Year’s. Have you broken any resolutions? Safer Internet Day is the perfect day for a “replacement” resolution.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

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