January 2015

Funeral providers must give price information

Planning a funeral can be challenging, but accurate information can help you sort through your options. Under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, providers have to give you information about the funeral goods and services they offer. But, according to the FTC, the Bradford-Connelly & Glickler Funeral Home didn’t give shoppers that timely information.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

What’s the true cost of a car title loan?

Have you seen a sign offering a car title loan — also known as a pink-slip loan, title pledge or title pawn? These loans use your paid-off car as collateral, and you get a small, short-term loan with a high interest rate. You usually have to repay the loan in 15 or 30 days, and the annual percentage rate (APR) is often more than 100%. If you don’t pay back the loan, the company can repossess your car — and then you’re worse off than you were before. It’s a very expensive way to get money.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Another tax scam: IRS imposters

Tax identity theft is the theme of the week, but it’s not the only tax scam we’re talking about. Complaints to the FTC about IRS imposter scams have shot up over the last year — by almost 50,000 complaints.

Here’s what happens: You get a call from a scammer pretending to be with the IRS, saying you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay taxes you owe right now. You’re told to wire it or put it on a prepaid debit card. They might threaten to deport you or say you’ll lose your driver’s license. Some even know your Social Security number, and they fake caller ID so you think it really is the IRS calling.

IRS Imposters Scams infographic

Is anybody horrified?

FTC blog posts don’t usually come with parental advisory notices, but in the case of Craig Brittain and his now-defunct revenge porn website, isanybodydown.com, we might need to make an exception. Because, in case you missed it: revenge porn.

Fast-talk from Straight Talk and others about unlimited data

Unlimited talk, text, and data for $45 per month with no contract? That sounds like a great deal, but according to a recent FTC lawsuit, millions of people who bought  unlimited mobile plans from Straight Talk, Net10 Wireless, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America didn’t get what they paid for. And now they may be eligible for refunds.

Straight Talk Ad

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Sorry, folks, I don’t have any cake to share for this celebration, but don’t let that stop you from participating in Data Privacy Day. There are practical things you can do today, and every day, to protect your personal information. Here are a few scenarios where people may share more information than they intend.

Image of computer connecting to Wi-Fi

Is that gadget internet-connected?

When we think of being connected to the internet, mobile phones, tablets and computers pop to mind. But lots of things are connected these days. Refrigerators, fitness wrist bands, smoke detectors and even light bulbs could have digital sensors that transmit information about you to other objects, databases or people over the internet.

A weight loss fad “As Seen on TV”

Have you heard about green coffee bean extract? You might have seen seemingly trustworthy celebrities touting these “magic” weight loss pills on TV. Or maybe you saw ads online or displays in stores promoting green coffee bean extract — “As Seen on TV.” But if you spend your money on a product that promises miraculous weight loss without diet or exercise, the only thing you’ll lose is your money.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

3 ways to use Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week to help people in your life

Looking for a practical way to help friends, family, and your community? We’ve got one: warn them about tax identity theft and IRS imposters.

This week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week — and a good time to think about what you can do. Here are three ideas to get you started:

IRS Imposters Scams infographic

Today’s news, tomorrow’s scam

When the headlines change, scammers follow: Natural disaster? Charity scams will follow. Medicare open season? Health care scams will follow. So we know from experience that, when immigration is in the headlines, scams will follow.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re in the immigration process – or would like to be – regardless of what’s in the news.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Get ready for National Consumer Protection Week!

It’s about that time again. Are you ready?

Every year, National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), encourages people and businesses to learn more about avoiding scams and understanding consumer rights. This year, NCPW takes place March 1-7, 2015. NCPW highlights free resources from government agencies and consumer organizations to help people make smarter buying decisions and spot rip-offs.

FTC racks up charges against unscrupulous debt collector

If you’re behind in paying your bills, you may be contacted by a debt collector, but that doesn’t mean a collector can treat you unfairly. Under federal law, debt collectors — including collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis, and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to collect them — can’t use abusive, deceptive or unfair practices to collect from you. But not all debt collectors play by the rules.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A story in Spanish about debt collection rights

When it comes to dealing with debt collectors, you have rights. That’s why the FTC created a new publication called Cobradores de Deuda. This Spanish-language graphic novel tells people about the rules for debt collectors, and what to do if a debt collector doesn’t follow the rules.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Kids’ game claims to boost brain power, draws FTC’s attention

Imagine if you could permanently improve your child’s attention, memory, school performance, and behavior. Well, that’s just what Focus Education claimed its Jungle Rangers computer game could do - with as little as 12 hours of play.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Warranties and service contracts 101

Ever wonder about the difference between a warranty and a service contract? Well, wonder no more.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Don’t let tax scammers get away with it

Tax season is getting close — and for some people, so is an experience with tax identity theft or IRS imposters. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. You usually find out something’s wrong after you file your tax return.

Also, IRS imposters work year-round — posing as the IRS when they call and say you owe taxes. They even threaten to arrest you if you don’t put money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number. They might know all or part of your Social Security number, and can fake caller ID information to make it look like it really is the IRS calling. But it’s not. Ever.

tax identity theft awareness week logo

 

Shutting down an income scam

We began 2014 by announcing that a court ordered Oro Marketing to temporarily shut down operations for bogus business practices. This phone fraud targeted Spanish-speaking Latinos, promising them packages of high-end goods that they could – supposedly – re-sell to make extra money. The company charged between $400 and $490 for the packages, but only delivered low-quality, off-brand products that were impossible to sell. According to the FTC, no one made any money – except the defendants, who misled people to steal their money.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Fake checks: The nanny or caregiver scam

Do you offer your professional services as a babysitter, nanny, or other kind of caregiver? You may have used websites that can match you up with potential clients – sites like Care.com or Sittercity.com. These sites can be a convenient and efficient way to drum up business. But scammers may misuse these sites. FTC staff has seen hundreds of complaints about con artists cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme that asks you to send payment to a third party. Details may vary, but, in general, the scam works like this:

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Ads for kids’ supplements didn’t speak the truth

When ads for products don’t tell the truth, you can bet the FTC will take notice.

Today, the FTC brought a case against NourishLife, a company that allegedly made unsupported and false claims about its Speak line of children’s supplements. According to the complaint, the company advertised that Speak products were clinically proven to support “normal and healthy speech development” for kids — including kids with verbal apraxia or those with autism spectrum disorder. The truth, the FTC says, is that the company didn’t have the proper scientific evidence to back up its claims.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Read this first.

Holiday parties went straight to your hips? Looking to jump-start your New Year’s weight loss?

Before reaching for any pill, powder, patch, exercise belt, or cream – know this: a lot of products promising quick, easy and permanent weight loss are bogus. They can hurt your wallet, and hurt your health too.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

How to solve your post-holiday consumer problems

The holidays are over. Hope you had a grand time! I know I did, but I also know a few people who are experiencing a bit of post-holiday frustration with products and services they bought. But never fear, the FTC is here with some tried and true tips to help resolve your problems. The fact is, most businesses want to keep you happy so you'll keep coming back.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit