Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Many people around the world dream of getting a “Green Card” that allows them to live and work in the United States. The U.S. Department of State runs the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program, also known as the Diversity Visa Lottery. People from certain countries who apply and are selected in a lottery drawing could qualify to be “Lawful Permanent Residents.” Unfortunately, the FTC has seen websites that claim to be affiliated with the program, but are not.
As fall weather cools down, plans for Thanksgiving and the charitable giving season are heating up. Here come the requests for donations — in your mail and email, in person, on social networking sites, through your mobile devices — you name it. Want to express your thankfulness with a gift to a charity? Find an organization that spends wisely on a cause you support, and screen out any requests scammers send your way.
Have you seen news reports about foreign websites showing live feeds from unsecured wireless cameras — like nanny cams, baby monitors, and security cameras — in the U.S. and around the world? It’s creepy stuff, but there are steps you can take to protect your camera from prying eyes.
Ripping off older people puts you in a special category of low-life scam artists. What about ripping off older people you know have already fallen for a telemarketing scam? That makes you a first ballot selection for the Scam Artist Hall of Shame. According to the FTC, that’s exactly what Consumer Collection Advocates did.
Selling your used stuff online has become commonplace. So have scams taking advantage of the good names of reputable online companies. At the FTC, we’ve heard from people stung by scammers spoofing PayPal. The scam generally goes like this: You post a high-value item, like a used car, for sale online. In no time at all, you get an email from a buyer willing to pay full price — or more! But he sets conditions; he is only willing to pay by PayPal or insists the sale must happen right away. What’s really going on? A ruse to steal your personal information, money or merchandise.
Here are some suspicious situations to look for and steps to safe selling online.
“Your computer is damaged ... we’ll help you fix it.” It’s the latest twist on tech support scams: Scammers sell software online that claims to increase your computer’s performance. They lure you to their websites with pop-up ads or web searches. Then, they tell you to call a phone number to activate or register the software. On the phone, they ask for remote access to your computer and then tell you that your computer has many errors that need to be fixed immediately.
“Free credit scores” sounds good, right? But what if you signed up for “free credit scores,” then found out you were enrolled in a credit monitoring program that costs $29.95 per month? Not so good. That’s what the FTC says happened with a company called One Technologies, Inc.
One way to judge a website’s privacy practices is to see if has been certified by an independent organization. Privacy seals and certifications are useful because it is difficult for regular computer users to verify how sites use their information.
Today, the FTC announced a settlement with TRUSTe, which advertises itself as “the #1 privacy brand.” The FTC alleged TRUSTe misled consumers when the company claimed it did an annual compliance checks on all sites that earned its “TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seals,” although it didn’t check more than 1,000 times over a six-year stretch
It’s open season for everyone who wants to switch health coverage. As you select your health insurance plan, watch out for scams. Whether you are on Medicare, selecting a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or have private insurance, here are some tips to help you more safely navigate the open enrollment season.
Earlier this year, I told you that the FTC and the Florida Attorney General (AG) acted to temporarily halt an Orlando-based operation that not only used illegal robocalls to pitch so-called “free” medical alert devices to older consumers, but also lied about the cost and quality.
I’m now pleased to report that a settlement obtained by the FTC and the Florida AG has permanently shut down the operation. In addition, the defendants are banned from making robocalls and participating in other telemarketing activities.