Attorney, FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Educaiton
Do your library patrons have a variety of backgrounds, cultures, literacy levels, and learning styles? Are they looking for information on managing money, credit & debt, recovering from identity theft, or avoiding fraud? You probably would love to get your hands on helpful information that’s clear, direct, and easy-to-use, right? Then tune in November 13 at 2 pm EST! The Public Library Association and the FTC are teaming up to present a free webinar about reaching out to patrons who have consumer questions and who need just basic information, plain and simple. Hear how the FTC partnered with the Center for Applied Linguistics to create Consumer.gov and its easy-to-use consumer resources. The site has tip sheets, short videos, and audio read-alongs to share what someone needs to know and do on important consumer issues.
You’ve served the nation and maybe you’re thinking about heading back to school to start the next chapter of your career. Colleges are there to help you, right? Hmm, not so fast. Not every school has got your back. Some for-profit schools may care more about boosting their bottom line with your VA education benefits. Some may even stretch the truth to persuade you to enroll, either by pressuring you to sign up for courses that don’t suit your needs or to take out loans that will be a challenge to pay off. In 2010, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) said that 70% of the agency’s current fraud investigations were focused on for-profit schools.
Do you send money to friends or family overseas? Or to a business? If so, as of right now, you have the power: to shop around, to make informed decisions, to cancel (OK, that power only lasts for 30 minutes, but it’s something), and to know where to complain.
Maybe you’re picking up paper plates for a party, or ready to bag some leaves in your yard. If a package says a product is biodegradable, compostable or recyclable you might opt to make the “greener” choice, right? That’s why it’s important those environmental labels tell the real story.
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.
Every now and then, many of us get the strange feeling someone’s watching us. Given how easy it is these days for companies to gather information about where we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, this may well be more than a feeling.
There’s a good reason why President Abraham Lincoln was nicknamed “Honest Abe”. He was honest about everything he did. Fast forward a few hundred years: It’s not hard to imagine what Lincoln might have thought about the honesty of American companies touting a “Made in the USA” label on products that aren’t.