Every spring, the FTC issues its Annual Highlights for the previous year. It’s like a corporate annual report, summarizing what we did and how we did it. Interested in our mission to protect consumers? Here are some of 2014’s highlights.
The caller is irate, intimidating and — despite the foul language — sounds convincing. He says you must make good on a payday loan or your wages will be garnished. If you applied for a payday loan before, you might start questioning your memory: “Did I miss a payment? The caller has my information, so this must be legit…”
The last thing you need is a short paycheck — especially if you’re already in a bind. So you pay. Thing is, you don’t owe them a dime. It’s a scam.
When struggling homeowners paid thousands of dollars in upfront fees to Wealth Educators, Inc., they expected help avoiding foreclosure. Although the “law firm” was quick to take their money, it did little or nothing to help save their homes, according to the FTC. And the “law firm” bit was all an act.
Starting a new business? That used to mean throwing a name on some brick and mortar. Nowadays, you need a website. Lots of companies sell domain names and web hosting services that let customers put up websites. It pays to go with one that spells out all the terms and conditions before you buy. But what if a company promises a refund as part of its 30-day money back guarantee — and then surprises you with a nonrefundable fee? That’s called deception.
Some companies’ privacy policies say they participate in the “U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.” But that doesn’t mean they have an accident-free shipyard. It has to do with U.S. companies reassuring European residents about the privacy and security of their personal information.
Identity thieves may already have a lot of information about you – like your credit card number, the card’s expiration date, and your name, address, and phone number. With all that information in his hands, why would he call you? He’s after one vital piece of information – the security code on your credit card.
Here’s a scam with an FTC angle. The letter has an official-looking FTC seal and is signed by “FTC Director” Jessica Rich. It says someone at the FTC will help you claim a cash prize you’ve won, and will help ensure delivery. That is, after you pay off the more than $5,000 “Legal Registration Bond.”
The language might sound legal, and the letter might look legit. You might look up Jessica Rich and see she’s an actual FTC official. But the truth is, there’s nothing legal or official about it. It’s a fake letter designed to convince you to send money for a non-existent prize.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but sometimes it’s illegal. Just ask the people behind First Time Credit Solutions, who promoted their business as “FTC Credit Solutions” until the real Federal Trade Commission shut them down.