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February 2014

Welcome to NCPW 2014

Sunday marks the 16th annual National Consumer Protection Week. The Federal Trade Commission stands with 74 federal, state and local agencies and organizations to stand up for consumers by highlighting the very best in consumer education resources.

NCPW Banner

Random text? Wait, wait, don’t click that!

Here’s a tip that’s worth repeating:
Don’t click on a link in a text message you get on your phone that says you’ve won a terrific prize or a gift card. Don’t reply either. It’s probably a scam.
The Federal Trade Commission settled charges with a group of marketers that were part of a scheme that sent millions of unsolicited spam text messages promoting supposedly free merchandise like $1,000 gift cards for Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

FTC hosts Twitter chat to answer consumer questions

To highlight National Consumer Protection Week, the FTC will host a Twitter chat to answer consumers’ questions about common scams on Tuesday, March 4 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Share the National Consumer Protection Week video

National Consumer Protection Week — March 2-8 this year — is a time to highlight free consumer resources that help people avoid scams, prevent identity theft and make more informed buying decisions.

‘Green’ lumber claims must stack up

When spring finally comes, you may want to spruce up your outdoor space with new furniture, fences or even a deck. And chances are you’ll rely on advertising for solid information about the products you’re going to buy.

The Federal Trade Commission recently settled allegations that N.E.W. Plastics Corp. made deceptive environmental benefit claims for its plastic lumber products. According to the FTC, N.E.W. Plastics exaggerated how much recycled plastic it used in some products, and falsely claimed all its products could be recycled.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Thanks to a request by the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has ordered a light bulb company to ante up $21 million for refunds to consumers who bought their LED bulbs. At issue were misleading and exaggerated claims by a company called Lights of America Inc.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Back, back, back it up

You’ve heard it a million times: Don’t click on links in an email unless you know who sent it and what it is.

But sometimes the link in an email is just so darned convenient. For example, you ship a package to a friend, and then you get an email with a link to track the delivery. It’s safe to click that link, right?

Maybe not.

Cryptolocker Ransom Note

Random text message? No real prize is waiting for you

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Don’t reply to — or click on — a link for a random text message you see on your phone saying that you’ve won a prize, gift card or an expensive electronic like an iPad. It’s most likely a scam.

When your phone speaks volumes

People share information about themselves every day by using store loyalty cards, internet search engines, social networking sites, and online coupons. Many people — like the character in this video — decide that the benefits of these services are worth sharing some personal information with businesses, ad networks, and others.

But what if you shared information simply by walking through your local mall with your phone? What if businesses used your phone’s Wi-Fi signal to track your movements through their stores? And what if they did it without your knowledge or okay?  The FTC plans to raise those questions in a seminar on Mobile Device Tracking on February 19, 2014. It’s the first event of our Spring Privacy Series.

Managing someone else’s money

A friend at the office was just asked to serve as the guardian of her aunt’s property and help manage her finances. That started a conversation around the lunch table: It turns out that several of us know people who have signed papers making them responsible for helping a friend or family member manage their money or property — that is, who serve as fiduciaries. 

Fiduciary responsibilities depend on the needs and circumstances of the person you’re helping and on state law, but all fiduciaries have basic legal duties. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau describes the duties in a new series of publications

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Busted flat, but not in Baton Rouge

As an agency with civil law enforcement authority, the FTC likes a criminal bust as much as anyone. And, just last month, our colleagues at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) delivered a good one. Listen to this.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Reset a resolution for Safer Internet Day

It’s been 42 days since New Year’s. Have you broken any resolutions? Safer Internet Day is the perfect day for a “replacement” resolution.

“One-ring” cell phone scam can ding your wallet

Who’s calling now? That number doesn’t ring a bell. Hold the phone, says the Federal Trade Commission. You could be a potential victim of the growing "one-ring” cell phone scam.

 

Are you and your Valentine financially compatible?

The most romantic day of the year is almost here. And while you’re daydreaming about the great chemistry between you and your Valentine, you also might think about whether you’re a financially compatible couple.

So how can you tell if you’ve got fiscal attraction? Play our quiz to check out how your significant other stacks up in the financial department.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A text message that’s no prize

A free iPad?! A $1,000 gift card? And all for clicking on a “YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR A PRIZE” text message you got out of the blue?

When a Business Doesn’t Protect Your Information

Say someone searched your name online. What do you think they’d find? What if some clicking brought them to things like your medical history, notes from psychiatric sessions or kids’ medical exams, or your Social Security and driver’s license number?

If you don’t like the sound of that, you might be interested to know that the FTC has announced a settlement with GMR Transcription Services, a company that promised “Security Measures to Protect Your Confidentiality,” for failing to protect personal information.