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A false appeal to your sense of charity

If you get a call asking you to give to a charity, you might be tempted to say yes without a second thought. But as with any call you get from someone asking for money out of the blue, pause and do some research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.

Unfortunately, there are for-profit companies — like American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc. (AHDW) — that pretend to be charitable organizations and lie about how they use donations. The FTC sued AHDW for deceiving people. Here’s the story.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Who are you talking to?

Imagine what you’d say – or write – about your health to a group of strangers. Or a friend. Or, say, your doctor. Probably different, right?

According to a settlement just announced by the FTC, a company called Practice Fusion published comments from many people who likely thought they were communicating directly with their doctor. Numerous people wrote about things like prescriptions. Facelifts. Depression. Some people also included with this information their full name, phone number, and other stuff you don't usually share with the world. But then those seemingly private messages went public.

Identity theft… by mobile phone

Identity theft can happen to you – and your mobile phone. It has even happened to the FTC’s Chief Technologist, Lorrie Cranor, and other FTC colleagues.

How does it happen? You might get a bill for a new mobile phone that you didn’t order. The thief used your personal information to open a new account. Or maybe your phone stops working entirely because a thief used your information to upgrade to a new phone and then shut off the phone you’re using.      

What can you do to reduce the risk of mobile phone identity theft?

Fake friends, fake news, phony weight-loss promises

An email from a friend urges you to try new weight-loss pills. There’s a link to an article about a celebrity’s amazing results with the pills, and the article’s author says he even tried this miracle product himself.

With all these trusted sources, why wouldn’t you give it a try?

Silver and golden opportunities?

You may have seen TV ads that claim buying gold is an easy way to earn easy profits, or build a safe retirement investment. While buying gold might help diversify your investment portfolio, is it always a good way to build your retirement? Or might it be an investment scheme disguised as a golden opportunity?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How to avoid imposters: 4 videos you need to see

A person pretends to be someone you trust and tries to convince you to send them money. They’re called imposter scams, and scammers use all kinds of angles to make their stories sound believable. If you — or your friends and family — haven’t been targeted by one yet, it’s almost certain you will be.

Learn how to fight fraud – at your library!

Book lovers flock to their local library to pick up a favorite classic or the latest bestseller. But today library visitors also want and need a whole lot more. In addition to providing traditional services, librarians help diverse groups of people navigate a complicated world, including how to avoid scams.

As for scams, there’s one thing we know for sure: we’re all consumers – and we’re all targets for fraud. Scammers are good at what they do. They’re professionals who know how to create confusion and prey on emotions to throw people off-balance just long enough to take advantage. Our job is to give people a heads-up so that maybe they don’t get knocked off balance and they don’t get ripped off.


Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Student debt relief schemes targeted by FTC

Do you have a lot of student debt? Wish it would disappear? You’re not alone. Scammers know that people are struggling with debt. They’re targeting borrowers with phony student loan debt relief schemes that can make things worse.

Today the FTC and the State of Florida announced lawsuits against two student loan debt relief schemes — Consumer Assistance Project and Student Aid Center. The FTC also announced a settlement in a case we wrote about earlier this year.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC bans hundreds of mortgage assistance and debt relief operations

On the heels of the FTC’s List of Banned Debt Collectors comes the sequel: The FTC’s List of Banned Mortgage Relief and Debt Relief Companies and People. Why would someone be banned? Well, here’s the story.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Federal student tax? No such thing.

Imposters posing as IRS agents are trying to trick college students into paying a “federal student tax” – a tax that doesn’t even exist.