March 2015

Scammers play name game and get caught

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but sometimes it’s illegal. Just ask the people behind First Time Credit Solutions, who promoted their business as “FTC Credit Solutions” until the real Federal Trade Commission shut them down.

Check your credit report

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

An invoice today gets the doctor to pay

Do you work at a doctor’s office? A nonprofit? How about a church, retirement home, or small business? Then you might be interested to hear that the FTC has stopped some scammers targeting businesses and organizations like yours.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Operation Ruse Control

Shopping for a car can be fun and exciting. But wading through ads and promotions from car dealers also can be stressful. Some advertise unusually low prices, low or no up-front payments, low- or no-interest loans, or low monthly payments. But the FTC says to use caution: Not all dealers play by the rules.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

“Add-on” auto finance plan gets a “D” for deception

Buying a car can be expensive. So when you hear there’s a service that can save you on financing, you might be all ears. Well, you’ll also need to be all eyes, because some companies say one thing while the paperwork says something different.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Reluctant to be rude?

Respectfulness and politeness — they’re valued in many close-knit communities. But when you’re dealing with a scammer, those values can backfire, as we’ve heard during our ongoing effort to fight fraud in every community. Scammers try to take advantage of your politeness to get you to hand over money or personal information.

Here are some situations when it would be just fine to interrupt, hang up, and not give a caller the time of day.

Fraud Affects Every Community logo

Is your credit report right?

You’ve tackled the taxes, you’ve made your list of spring cleaning projects, and maybe you’ve even started thinking about what you might plant now that the snow is melting. But I have one more spring project for you: checking your credit report.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Rent-to-Own: Consider your alternatives

Need a sofa, washer/dryer, TV, or new tires? Don’t have the cash or credit to buy them outright? You may be considering rent-to-own: simply make weekly or monthly payments for a while and you own the goods. But before you sign on the dotted line, here are some things to consider.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Don’t pay for a vacation to nowhere

With winter almost over, are you itching to get out of town? As you search for your perfect getaway, you might come across good-looking vacation rental deals that seem amazing. Unfortunately, some “steals” are posted by scammers trying to steal your money. They’ll leave you with a vacation to nowhere.

A not-so-MINI problem

Your car needs an oil change, so you stop by a place on the way home. Or maybe your car is making a funny noise, so you take it to your trusted mechanic.

Later on, when you go to check your car’s warranty, you find out your coverage might be in jeopardy because you didn’t get the work done at one of the car company’s dealers or centers. Can a car company do that?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Can imported laminate wood floors make you sick?

The warm luster of laminate wood flooring can give your home or office an inviting and natural look. But, according to recent press reports, some laminates imported from China produce potentially hazardous emissions of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Been hacked or hijacked? Read this.

Your email’s been hacked — what do you do?

Your computer’s been hijacked by malware — how do you get it back?

If you’re not sure where to start — or you’re the person everyone asks for help getting started — we’ve got two new videos, in English and Spanish, with the steps to help.

Hijacked Computer video image with play button

Checks in the mail

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a company called Lane Labs marketed products made out of shark cartilage, claiming they could treat and cure cancer.  Only, not so much. The FTC sued the company in 2000, they settled, and paid a hefty sum. The court also barred them from making claims about the health benefits of a product unless they had scientific evidence to support those claims.

It’s the IRS calling…or is it?

Here at the FTC, we think about scams all day long. What are the scammers’ new angles? How can we keep ahead of them? We hear from people about the scams they see, and we turn that into tips people use to spot and avoid scams.

But scammers find FTC staff, just as they find the rest of America. In fact, someone claiming to work for the IRS called my house just last week.

Free TV – but what’s the catch?

You’ve seen the attention-grabbing ads. Get DIRECTV’s satellite TV packages for as little as $19.99 a month for a year! Throw in HBO and Showtime – “free for 3 months.” It’s enough to make you “ditch cable now” and head straight into orbit with satellite TV. But before you pop the corn and head to the couch, listen to this. The FTC says DIRECTV didn’t give consumers the whole scoop and their viewers got stuck with charges they didn’t know about or approve.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Your top 5 questions about unwanted calls and the National Do Not Call Registry

1. How can I make it stop?

You signed up for the Do Not Call Registry ages ago, but you’re suddenly getting a bunch of unwanted calls. What can you do?

Cleaning up without getting cleaned out

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to say “uncle” to Old Man Winter. This year’s record-breaking snowfalls, downed trees, roof collapses, mudslides, flooding and frozen pipes are leaving overwhelming clean-up and recovery in their wake. If you’re thinking about hiring someone to help you dig out, keep these tips in mind.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

There is no Bureau of Defaulters

The email says it’s a court notice from the Bureau of Defaulters Agency-FTC with your arrest warrant record attached. It says you’ve ignored their efforts to contact you, so now your Social Security Number is on hold by the federal government, you’ll be prosecuted for fraud, and you’ll owe all kinds of money when you’re found guilty. You’ve got just 24 hours to respond.

It’s not true. There is no Bureau of Defaulters, and the FTC doesn’t send emails like this to people.

Double the fun: The FTC announces two new robocall contests

The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Terminator 2… Don’t you just love a good sequel? The FTC does, too, and that’s why the agency is returning to DEF CON with a new robocall challenge.

 Humanity Strikes Back

A billion illegal robocalls

We all know that robocalls can be annoying. They can also be illegal. It’s against the rules for companies to try to sell you something under the guise of a political or charity-related robocall. But we’ve found that not everyone plays by the rules.

Looking for a place to rent?

How many hours have you spent looking at ads for apartments or houses to rent? Or asking people you know for leads on a good place?

Finding the right apartment or house might not be easy. Besides finding a place that meets your needs or wants, in an area that works, you might have questions like:

  •     Can I afford the rent and any other costs?
  •     What documents and information do I need to apply to rent a place?
  •     Will I still be able to rent if I have a bad credit history?

screen shot of rental video

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

The Grate Pretenders

We’re done with the Golden Globes and the Oscars but an entirely different kind of actor is still lurking around: scammers who pretend to be someone they’re not. Sometimes it seems we’re afloat in a sea of imposters who are trying to cheat you by pretending to be from legitimate organizations. Imposter scams play on your emotions. The scammers work hard to make you believe that you’ve won something or you have an unexpected problem. They say that, for a small fee, they’ll send you lots of money or make your troubles disappear. They might encourage you to pay them with a reloadable card or they may ask for your personal information. Here are the top ten imposter scams you told us about last year.