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August 2014

Drum roll, please…

The FTC recently attended DEF CON 22, and challenged the tech-savvy to help us zap “Rachel from Cardholder Services” and her robocall buddies. How? The agency hosted a contest to see who could develop a cutting-edge robocall honeypot — an information system designed to attract robocallers, and help researchers and investigators understand and minimize illegal calls. Today, the FTC announced the winners, who will receive a combined total of $12,000 in prizes.

Wow! Your baby can read? Really?

All parents think their babies rock. But when a company says its product will help a kid master reading Harry Potter during the potty-training years, it needs solid science to support those claims.

The FTC says Dr. Robert Titzer and his company, Infant Learning, Inc., deceived consumers with ads for Your Baby Can Read, a set of DVDs, books and word cards that cost around $200. These ads and other promotional materials promoted the program’s ability to teach babies as young as nine months to read — with their skills advancing to books like Charlotte’s Web by ages three or four.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Concussion claims

Concussions and their long-term effects on the brain are a hot topic — for good reason. If you play sports, a claim that a product could protect you from a concussion would be mighty compelling. And you’d expect it would be a claim you could trust, right?

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Order free consumer resources for your Hispanic Heritage Month celebration

The calendar says August: time for TV re-runs, back-to-school sales and the beginning of the futbol season. It’s also time to start planning for Hispanic Heritage Month. The FTC has free resources to help people learn their rights and avoid fraud.

Scamming the families of migrant children

Scammers are contacting the families of children who have recently crossed the border into the U.S. When they call, the scammers:

  • speak Spanish
  • claim to be a charity worker, social worker, or from the government
  • know details about the children and their location, and indicate that the child is about to be released
  • ask for money - for travel or processing costs - to be sent through wire transfer, money order, or a debit from your bank account
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC to host workshop on big data and underserved communities

With today’s technology, organizations and companies can collect and analyze massive amounts of consumer data at lightning speed. What people search online, buy in stores, and do and say on social media is information that helps companies market more efficiently. This era of "big data" may hold lots of promise – but also some pitfalls.

Next month, the FTC will explore the use of big data for marketing and other purposes.

Big Data Logo

Russian hackers might have your info — now what?

You may have heard about it in the news: reports that Russian hackers have stolen more than a billion unique username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses, grabbed from thousands of websites. What should you do about it? We asked our resident expert, Maneesha Mithal, director of our Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

When is debt collection illegal?

If you’re behind on your bills, you’ll probably get calls from debt collectors. Their job is to get you to pay or make arrangements to pay. But any debt collector who harasses or threatens you is breaking the law. The Federal Trade Commission’s cases against Credit Smart and Regional Adjustment Bureau highlight the facts of life every consumer facing debt collection should know.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Credit scores: The higher, the better

The World Cup may be over, but it’s still important to know the score…your credit score, that is.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Deploying Servicemembers: Consider an active duty alert

If you’re a servicemember getting ready to deploy, you most likely have a “To Do” list. FTC staff suggest your list include placing an active duty alert on your credit reports to help minimize your risk of identity theft.

FTC sues scammer’s little helper

What do you call a company that helps scammers drain people’s accounts without authorization? At the FTC, we call them “Defendants.” Badum bum.

In fact, the Commission just charged three companies and four individuals with helping a fraudulent internet operation withdraw $26 million without the permission of the account holders.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Is your shopping buddy app-y?

A good shopping buddy has a sharp eye, knows the lay of the land, and can find the best deals on the products you want. A great shopping buddy might even share coupons with you.

Millions of people have found new shopping buddies — their smartphones. Shopping apps for use in brick-and-mortar stores have been downloaded millions of times.

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