February 2015

Consumers told it to the FTC: Top 10 complaints for 2014

Today, the FTC announced its top 10 consumer complaints for 2014. Of the more than 2.5 million consumer complaints received…

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Do you trust those online reviews?

Thinking about using a company, product, or service based on online reviews? You’re probably interested in getting the best service – and price – for your money. You might have read what other customers have written to help with your decision. But can you always trust those online reviews? Just how credible are they?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Superfish software on Lenovo notebooks: What you can do

You may have seen — and been concerned by — news stories about Superfish software on Lenovo notebooks. Lenovo began pre-installing Superfish on certain notebooks in September 2014. But, the software makes it easier for hackers to access your personal information, even when you’re visiting a website, like a bank’s website, that uses HTTPS to encrypt the transmission of sensitive information.

Although Lenovo has announced that they have discontinued pre-installing Superfish on its notebooks, some Lenovo notebooks sold today may still have Superfish pre-installed. So, if you purchased a Lenovo notebook any time since September 2014, your computer may be vulnerable to security threats. Here are some steps you can take.

National Consumer Protection Week in every community

When National Consumer Protection Week starts on Sunday, it will mark the 17th year of a growing partnership. NCPW now includes 89 federal, state and local agencies and non-profits working together to connect people with the best consumer education resources.

At NCPW.gov, you’ll find resources to help you manage your money, handle credit and debt, stay safe online, avoid identity theft, and more. Read the latest news from consumer protection experts on our blog; share videos, articles, audio tips, and blog posts; order free resources; or file a complaint when you spot a scam. You’ll also get ideas on how to get involved so you can help us spread the word about consumer protection.

NCPW 2015 image

FTC and NY Attorney General team up again to tackle abusive debt collectors

On the heels of their victory against National Check Registry, the FTC and the New York Attorney General teamed up again to announce two complaints against debt collectors that allegedly used a slew of abusive and deceptive tactics to pressure consumers into making payments on questionable debts.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

You (haven’t really) won!

For years, we’ve been hearing about lottery scams: the imposter who convinces you that you’ve won the lottery (you didn’t) – and all you have to do is pay some fees to collect your millions (you won’t). And for years, we’ve been hearing about lottery scams that originate in Jamaica, where telemarketing lottery scams became a cottage industry in some parts of the island.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

In payday loan debt? Don’t let false promises sink you in deeper.

Many people who take out payday loans have trouble paying them off quickly. A recent FTC case shows how dishonest companies can take advantage of people who can’t make their payments, while fees and interest costs grow.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Can your app really do that?

Apps can provide hours of entertainment, keep you organized, and help you learn something new. Indeed, apps can be helpful, as long as they provide accurate information. But if you’re trying to analyze a serious medical condition with an app — like whether that mole on your back might be a sign of melanoma — talk with your doctor or another reliable medical professional first. As recent FTC cases show, some health apps make claims they can’t back up.

Woman using tablet

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

The FTC swats company’s claims about mosquito repellent bands

Imagine you’re sitting on the patio sipping a cold, refreshing drink, or you’re watching your kid’s afternoon game. Then, without warning, those annoying, unwelcome guests swoop in and ruin the fun. Come on, now, I don’t mean your in-laws! I’m talking about those pesky mosquitoes, buzzing around and bugging everyone in sight. We’ve all been there, right?

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

L.A. lessons

Earlier this week, more than 80 people came together in Los Angeles. Federal, state, and local government agencies were there, along with legal services organizations, the State Bar, and non-profit groups. Our goal? To figure out how we can work together to protect immigrant consumers.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Laptop security in a nutshell

Imagine you’re at a coffee shop, sipping on a latte while working on your laptop. After all that coffee, you need to run to the loo. Would you leave your laptop for just a sec while you heed nature’s call?

Here’s another question: wouldn’t you hate it if your laptop disappeared? Your family photos, tax documents, and other personal stuff could vanish along with it. Unfortunately, it only takes a minor distraction for that to happen. And the last thing you’d want is for an identity thief to get their hands on your laptop.

Laptop Security bookmark

Does your app know where you are?

Who knows where you are right now? The apps on your smartphone might — even if you’re not using them.

Anthem Hack Attack, Part 2: Phishing Scams

Last week I told you about health insurer Anthem’s data breach affecting more than 80 million customers. This week, I’m telling you about scam artists who are sending phony “Anthem” emails that pretend to help customers, but actually phish for their personal information.

Share these online safety tips with your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and yes, romance is in the air. But the month of love also celebrates Safer Internet Day on February 10th. Show how much you care by sharing this short online safety Q&A with your loved one.

Sending money out of love, or sending a scammer money?

Love is a powerful thing. So when a loved one calls or emails, saying they’re in trouble, you’d want to help, right? If they ask you to send cash immediately — should you follow your heart?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Hack Attack: Health insurer’s customer information stolen

Last week, hackers hit Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurance company. As many as 80 million customers had their account information stolen. The pilfered data includes names, birth dates, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information.

If you’re worried about your personal information ending up in the wrong hands, the FTC has a helpful reminder. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, lets you limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

Technology tips for domestic violence and stalking victims

We love technology. So it’s disturbing when it’s used to threaten or harass people – especially domestic violence and stalking victims.  

Hotel Wi-Fi: Weigh the risk

When you travel, have you used your hotel’s Wi-Fi – maybe to pay a few bills or catch up on a report you need to read? You may want to think twice before logging in to accounts over hotel Wi-Fi. Hackers are using security vulnerabilities in hotel Wi-Fi to steal people’s passwords and other sensitive information. Here’s how it works: as a hotel guest, you try to get online using their Wi-Fi network and get a pop-up for a software update. But the network has been compromised. When you click to accept the download, you unknowingly load software designed to damage your computer or steal your information.

During your next hotel stay, consider whether you absolutely must share your login info over the Wi-Fi network. Weigh for yourself whether it’s worth the risk. If you decide to use a public network, take precautions.

My very own IRS imposter call

“Hello, we have been trying to reach you. This call is officially a final notice from the IRS, Internal Revenue Service. The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.” That was the message on my answering machine when I returned home from work.

IRS Imposters Scams infographic

Claims send bag makers to FTC’s doghouse

Being a dog owner isn't just about walks in the park. Your furry pal needs supplies too, like nutritious food, safe squeaky toys and waste bags for cleanup. Chances are, you rely on ads and product labels when you shop, so it’s important they tell the real story. The FTC sets standards for truth in advertising, and holds companies accountable for the claims they make to ensure you get sound information. The FTC recently sent letters warning 20 marketers of dog waste bags that their green claims about the bags may be deceptive.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The FTC’s new Hall of Shame — Banned Debt Collectors

There’s the “A List,” and then there’s the “D List.” I know which one I don’t want to be on. Now the FTC has its own version of the “D” List — its list of banned debt collectors.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit