September 2014

Hold on to your disability settlement

If you have a disability and need money, here’s a pitch that might catch your interest: “Need money now? Our company can give you access to cash when you need it.”

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

No support for shapewear’s slimming claims

Imagine wearing an undergarment for eight hours a day for a month to slim inches off your hips and thighs and reduce the unsightly orange peel appearance of cellulite. Yeah, right. In your dreams. Yet, according to the FTC, that’s just what Norm Thompson Outfitters, Inc., and Wacoal America, Inc., claimed in advertising and marketing for their slimming shapewear.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

After 100 years, looking ahead to our next century

One hundred years ago today, the New York Times’ news pages were filled with coverage of the outbreak of World War I in Europe. There were stories about the newly opened Panama Canal and the growing movement for women’s suffrage. For $200, an ad in the paper offered readers the chance to purchase a Victrola phonograph.

Two weeks earlier in September 1914, readers of the Times may also have noticed a news item under the single-column headline: “Trade Board Bill Wind-Up.” It reported that Congress had enacted new antitrust legislation creating a bipartisan, five-member body called the Federal Trade Commission.

FTC@100 logo

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Income scams are subject of new FTC fotonovela

The FTC’s second Spanish-language fotonovela is about scams that promise you can make money selling high-end products or brand-name merchandise. If the pitch sounds familiar, that’s because the story is based on facts from a recent FTC lawsuit against a company that targeted Spanish speakers nationwide. Income Scams tells the story of Fatima, a consumer who is looking for a way to earn some extra money.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Debt Collection & the Latino Community Roundtable Agenda

On October 23rd, consumer advocates, industry leaders, state and federal regulators and academics will meet at the Grand Ballroom at California State University, Long Beach, for a roundtable discussion on Debt Collection & the Latino Community. The event is being hosted by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Please note the venue change to the Grand Ballroom.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC to abusive debt collectors: You’re outta business!

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.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A bitcoin breakdown

If you’re interested in technological, financial or social innovation, you’ve probably heard of Bitcoin. It’s a virtual currency used by people around the world to make purchases online, or in person using a mobile app. As more merchants accept the currency — and more companies pitch Bitcoin investments — more people are curious about how it works.

Unlike dollars, pesos or yen, bitcoins are not backed by a government or distributed by a central bank. Instead, bitcoins are created on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network through a process called “mining.”

Staying current: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

You may have heard about them in the news, through one of your favorite online shopping sites, or from a friend who always has the latest scoop on technology trends: cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are a way to buy things online — or in person, using a mobile app — with sellers who agree to accept them.

Now Hiring Spanish Speakers. $18/hr. ITINs Accepted

The Federal Trade Commission works closely with legal services providers and consumer advocates to root out frauds affecting communities across the nation. Several of our partners have told us about an income scam that’s targeting Latino organizations -- even churches. Here’s how it works:

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

These online high schools didn’t make the grade

Looking for a way to get your high school diploma or a college degree online? You’ll want to read this.

Image of graduation hats

 

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Protecting Every Community: An update on the FTC’s work to combat fraud targeting Latinos

At the Federal Trade Commission, when we say we protect the nation’s consumers, we mean that the agency protects every community in the nation from fraud and scams. This includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, older consumers, lower-income communities, and veterans and service members.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s a good time to look back on how the FTC has worked to protect the Latino community, in particular, in the past year. Here are some highlights:

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Taken for a glide

Would you be willing to exercise 3 minutes a day to get fit? It’s a compelling proposition. Unfortunately, in the case of the ab GLIDER, lost pounds, body inches, or clothing sizes weren’t just an easy glide away.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Answering the call about mobile tech

Have you ever snagged a great deal right from your tablet? Or maybe you’ve donated to a charity from your phone? Then you know first-hand that mobile technologies give us unprecedented efficiency and convenience. The FTC is addressing the issues that affect consumers as new mobile technologies come on the scene. The Commission has sued companies that have broken the law, held workshops about mobile commerce, and issued several reports documenting the state of mobile privacy, security, and consumer protection.

So when our sister agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put out a call to learn more about financial services and mobile technology, especially as used by underserved consumers, the FTC lent its support and sent comments. Here are some of the points we highlighted about the challenges consumers face when using mobile financial services.

Payday lender gets what’s due… from the FTC

Have you ever been contacted by a lender who says you owe them money, but you’re pretty darn sure you don’t? You’re not the only one.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Parents have power over companies cAPPtivating kids

Seems like just about every time you visit the app store on your mobile phone, there are cool images grabbing your attention and luring you to places where companies and others want you to be. But when apps specifically target children and gather personal information from them, parents have the right to know about — and stop it.

Kids under 13 can’t Yelp it

If you have children under 13, do you know about COPPA — the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act? Websites and services covered by COPPA must get your consent before they collect personal information from your child, and they must honor your choices about how that information is used.

That’s why Yelp — the online review service — is getting less than five stars from the FTC.

COPPA logo

Let’s talk about online safety

The new school year is in full swing and National Cyber Security Awareness Month is around the corner. What better time to talk to the kids in your life about online safety. Many of our readers are doing just that — and using Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online as the basis for the conversation.

Over 1 million copies of the new Net Cetera have been distributed throughout the U.S. since January 2014. Time and time again, our readers have told us they think Net Cetera is a valuable tool.  

Image of mother and child using a mobile device
 

These health care plans were scams

Before you sign up and pay any money for health insurance or discount plans, check out all the available options — and any claims they make about coverage. Some people who call you up promoting a way for you to save could be pitching a scam.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

No fooling: mortgage ads must tell the truth

If you’ve ever shopped for a mortgage, you know it takes time to sort through competing ads. If an online ad claimed you could “save up to $2,000 a year,” lower your mortgage payment with “no credit check” or refinance your mortgage for free with “no hidden fees,” you might think it looked pretty good and submit your personal information.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Preventing fraud in everyone’s community

What defines “community”? Is it where you live? Your racial or ethnic identity? Your age? Your income? Whether you’ve served in the military? The concept of community can be very personal.

Regardless of how you define your community, the FTC cares about stopping scams you deal with, and preventing others from taking root. The FTC is hosting a workshop on October 29, 2014, called “Fraud Affects Every Community.”

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Hispanic Heritage Month Begins

The FTC joins with other federal agencies to celebrate Hispanic heritage from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 during our nation’s official Hispanic Heritage Month. But the FTC uses enforcement and education every day, all year long, as part of its mission to protect all consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace, online and off. We use our enforcement authority to stop scams that target Spanish speakers, whether they involve fraudulent marketing practices, illegal debt collection practices, false advertising claims, or identity theft. 

We deliver free information in Spanish on a wide range of consumer issues, in a variety of formats. Our resources in Spanish help Latino consumers recognize government imposters, protect their computers from malware and their personal information from phishing attempts, and avoid income scams.

These weight loss pills won’t make you “High School Skinny”

Many companies have tag lines designed to catch your attention; many are true and backed up by good, solid evidence. Others… not so much. They may be downright deceptive.

Have you heard this one? “Get High School Skinny!” That’s what marketers of Healthe Trim promised people who bought their line of weight loss supplements. However, according to a settlement announced by the FTC, the company had no scientific evidence that these products actually worked.

Image of Healthe Trim product bottle
 

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Data breaches, credit freezes, and identity theft… oh my!

News reports of large-scale data breaches — like this week’s announcement from Home Depot — have prompted some of our readers to ask about a credit freeze. Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

Company promised fake FTC refunds

You got a robocall from someone working with the FTC with a message that promised to help you get a refund from the agency. If you ever lost money to a scam, it might have been a tough call to ignore. Turns out ignoring the call would have been the right call because — you guessed it: it was a scam.

A new narrative

As the centenarian agency in the consumer protection world, the FTC knows that changes in the marketplace almost always affect trends in fraud – and that fraudsters follow the headlines. And we listen when the US Census Bureau tells us that more Americans are 65 and older now than at any other time in US history. So we anticipate that fraud targeting older citizens will increase in the next few years.

That’s just one reason the FTC launched a fraud education campaign aimed at active older people, a group with life experience and social networks.

Pass It On image

Are you in the dark about utility scams?

When severe weather strikes, utility outages often are par for the course. Unfortunately, utility scams are becoming part of the drill, too.

Here’s how the scam works: Someone claiming to be with your local utility company comes around during an outage and offers to reconnect your service for a cash payment. Sure, you think it’s a bit odd that they’re asking for cash, but maybe the company’s power is out, too, and they can’t operate the computers to process payments. Besides, the person looks and sounds legitimate, and you really need your service turned on.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Kids’ in-app spending on Android? Parents didn’t app-rove

Ever hand your smartphone over to your kids? You probably didn’t think it could be a hundred-dollar decision — but for some parents, it was.

Today the FTC announced that Google is settling charges that it allowed kids to spend money in apps without their parent’s permission.