October 2014

Check out the auto dealer and financing – before you sign

You want to buy a car and need financing, but your credit isn’t so great. Most dealerships have a Finance and Insurance (F&I) Department that will tell you about their financing options. To get the process started, the F&I Department will ask you to complete a credit application, which includes your monthly income and information on current credit accounts, including debt you owe. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Ad for Gerber baby formula: Deceptively cute

You want the best for your baby. So when you see an ad for formula that claims to help reduce the risk of your child developing allergies, you might be willing to give it a try. Well, hang on to your wallet.

Image of Gerber Good Start Gentle ad

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Virtual dating left these people with actual disappointment

Okay, so you had some reservations, but you finally decide to try this online dating thing. Your cousin met the love of her life online, so it’s worth a try right? You find a site that offers free membership so you can browse for possible dates without paying up front.

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FTC sues AT&T for limiting “unlimited data”

“Unlimited data” sounds great, right? Browse the Internet, stream videos, use GPS, even make video calls – all to your heart’s content. But what if you bought an unlimited data plan and then weren’t able to do all those things? That’s what happened to some AT&T customers.  

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

What does fraud look like in your community?

All of us are part of some kind of community, however we define that. Asian-American. Service member. Latino. Older adult.

Here at the FTC, we’re wondering what the marketplace looks like in different communities, and thinking about how fraud creeps in. We’ve seen some examples of fraud targeting specific groups. In fact, we recently filed a case against alleged phone scammers who targeted older adults, pretended to be from Medicare, and took millions from consumers’ bank accounts. 

But we want to hear from people working in different communities directly: what does fraud look like where you are?

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Headline news: Scammers issue bogus newspaper subscription renewal notices

Nothing like a hot cup of coffee and the morning paper to start the day, right? Well, for many subscribers and newspaper publishers across the country, bogus renewal notices are leaving a bitter taste.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC publications — free and at your fingertips

When you want free consumer information — for yourself or a group — the FTC is ready to take your order. Looking for identity theft brochures to share with your book club? We’ve got them. Online safety handouts to use in the classroom? Right here. Bookmarks about charity fraud to distribute at a community fair? Absolutely. Our new and better bulkorder site is your gateway to almost 200 free publications for consumers and businesses.

Spanish speaking consumers conned out of $2 million

The FTC has seen some truly abusive phone scams. But, in a case announced today, Centro Natural scored a hat trick. According to the FTC’s complaint, Centro Natural violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, including the rules of the Do Not Call Registry, the FTC Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Operators of bogus business opportunity ordered to pay back $25 million

If you’re looking to run your own business, you might be tempted by ads that claim you can buy into a ready-made business opportunity and make a lot of money. But some companies touting big earnings are promising more than they can deliver, and the FTC is taking action to stop them.

 

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

FTC to Webcast the Debt Collection & the Latino Community Roundtable

Staff from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are ready to host the Debt Collection and the Latino Community roundtable, tomorrow, October 23rd, in Long Beach, CA.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Screening “green” claims

If you want to shop “green,” you might choose a product that says it’s biodegradable, compostable or recyclable. Environmental claims and labels can influence our choices, so it’s important they tell the real story.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

“Free” products weren’t really free

The story: a company says its product will help you lose weight without diet changes or exercise, and you can try it free — 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

The reality: the company can’t support — or deliver on — those weight loss claims. If you give your credit or debit account number, you get charged $60 to $210 every month — and it’s almost impossible to get a refund.

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Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

How to guard against Ebola-related charity scams

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa has taken the lives of more than 4,000 people. Many people are asking how they can help. If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Is that health insurance website for real?

Shopping for health insurance online? Before making your final purchase – read on. Health insurance scams have been preying on vulnerable consumers through websites selling medical discount plans.

Beware of mystery shopper scams

I confess… I once was a mystery shopper. Decades ago, I shopped at stores to see what they were charging for certain products and visited restaurant chains to evaluate the food and service. I wrote up a report, sent it in, and received a check for my work. Nothing I could make a living from, but it helped fill the gas tank.

Back then, it didn’t occur to me that responding to a mystery or secret shopper ad could set me up for a scam. Now I know – if you’re looking to make extra money as a mystery shopper, it pays to do some homework to make sure the job is real.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Avoid a vacation property rental scam

Ready to start booking your next vacation? Maybe you’re thinking about renting a house or condo. These days it’s easy to connect directly with property owners who advertise their vacation homes online, and you’ve probably heard wonderful stories from people who rent vacation properties. We have, too. But we’ve also heard from people who’ve fallen for vacation rental scams.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

A lesson for WordSmart: Tell the truth

If you’re a parent, you want to see your child succeed in school. So it may seem like a wise investment when a company claims that its products will improve your kids’ grades, test scores, IQ, reading speed and comprehension and even offers a money-back guarantee. The problem? The FTC found that a company making these claims, WordSmart Corporation, allegedly had no substantiation to support them and relied on outright lies to generate business.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers bank on Ebola fears

One thing we’ve learned at the Federal Trade Commission is that scams often follow the news – especially when there’s a health scare in the headlines.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

AT&T’s $105 million “cramming” settlement leads to refunds

Ongoing efforts by the FTC and its federal and state partners to stop mobile cramming have resulted in a whopping $105 million dollar settlement with AT&T — the biggest to date with a prominent mobile phone carrier. Even better news for affected AT&T customers? They might be eligible for a refund.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Be smart about your phone

You just bought the latest smartphone. You loaded all your favorite apps — online banking, GPS, even an app to track your health. 

But now your phone is full of information about you — how much money you have, where you are and whether you’ve gained a little weight. Your information can cause problems if it’s in the wrong hands. Want to protect it? These tips are for you.

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FTC: Telemarketing scam stole money from older consumers

How low can scammers go? As low as stealing from older consumers to line their own pockets. The FTC says some scammers claimed to be calling on behalf of the government to verify information for a new Medicare card or Medicare-related package. In fact, it was a ruse to get people’s bank account information to make unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Have a question about a dietary supplement? Here’s where to go for answers

You know you need to eat a variety of healthy foods every day to stay healthy. But you may wonder if that’s enough. Should you also be taking supplements? Which ones and how much? Are they safe? Do they work? Will they interact with your medications?

Where can you go to cut through the hype and get reliable information? The federal Office of Dietary Supplements is one excellent source.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness