Consumer Information Blog

Wise giving after a weather emergency

The recent outbreak of tornadoes and other violent weather that took lives and pulverized homes and businesses from the Midwest to the Deep South is a sad reminder that extreme weather can occur with little warning.

As we know, when a disaster strikes, bogus charities aren’t far behind. The FTC urges you to be on guard against scam artists who try to take advantage of someone else’s tragedy.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Checking up on consumer generated health information

Whether it’s a website where people diagnosed with the same medical condition can share their stories or an app to find out how long it will take in the gym to burn off a Macadamia Mania Ripple sundae, consumers are taking their health in their own hands — and generating a massive amount of digital data in the process.

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Exploring the perils of the precious metals market

The Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding a hearing today to examine deception associated with retail precious metals investments and their effect on people’s retirement nest eggs. The FTC, which has a track record of stopping deceptive practices in the marketing of precious metals as investments, will testify.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Apple refunds

Thanks to a settlement with the FTC, Apple is refunding more than $32 million to people for in-app charges made by kids without their parent’s permission. Apple also had to change its billing practices to make sure it now gets express, informed consent from people before charging them for in-app purchases.

It pays to read your bills

True, bills aren’t the most thrilling read. They are hardly funny, there are no vampires or romantic triangles, and you probably won’t be pleased if there’s any suspense involved.

When bills arrive, it can be hard enough to look at the amount due, never mind wading through the line items. But if you don’t check them, you could end up paying for things you never bought. It can be easy to fix — if you spot it. Make it a habit to read your bills as soon as you get them. Do you recognize every charge?

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Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Spring Cleaning and Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22 – and thoughts may well turn to spring cleaning. Maybe you’re ready to brighten your home with a fresh coat of paint. Maybe your garden can use a little pruning. If you want supplies or paint that are better for the environment, chances are you’ll rely on advertising for information about the products you choose. The Federal Trade Commission requires truth in advertising, including green advertising. That means companies need solid evidence to back up the environmental claims they make about their products.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

A CLU to fighting fraud

Imagine a criminal gang has defrauded thousands of people around the country. They may have scammed folks out of millions — or tens of millions — of dollars. The FTC goes after just these kinds of bad guys, and often, can get money back for the consumers who were ripped off. But what about the scammers? Some of them just pick up stakes and start again — ripping off more people along the way. The FTC might haul them right back into court. But the unfortunate truth about some of these crooks is that nothing short of locking them up is going to stop them. That’s where the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit comes in. The CLU teams up with prosecutors to get justice for consumers.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Considering a franchise? Pause to analyze

Maybe you’ve thought about buying a franchise because you’re eager for a career change. Perhaps you want to be the boss, or to build a family business. Whatever your motivation is, know that buying a franchise takes a major financial investment and a serious personal commitment. If you wonder whether owning a franchise is right for you, ask yourself some questions.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Is your child a victim of identity theft? We’re serious.

Right about now is the time when many of us are searching for scholarships and financial aid for our college-bound kids. Or maybe Junior is interviewing for his first job — or Muffy is buying her first car. In the middle of the paperwork, you might get a nasty surprise: your child’s credit report shows unpaid bills and a loan default. What? My child’s credit report? Children and young teens aren’t even legally able to open credit accounts on their own; you wouldn’t expect them to have a credit report. So what happened? Most likely, it’s identity theft.

A child's Social Security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits and tax refunds, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. The best way to know if your child’s information is being misused is to check for a credit report. Even if you don’t suspect identity theft, it’s a good idea to see if there is a credit file on your child. Do a check at their 16th birthday. And if needed, take action immediately.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Dreams Deferred

When Langston Hughes wrote about a dream deferred (and asked whether it dries up like a raisin in the sun), he wasn’t necessarily thinking of scams. But many Spanish speakers found their immigration dreams deferred (if not ended) and their money taken by a Baltimore-based couple who promised help with immigration services.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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