June 2015

Visit the FTC at NCLR in Missouri

If you’re in Kansas City, Missouri on July 11-14, come see the FTC at the annual National Council of La Raza conference.

Is your phone a prized possession?

Let’s be honest: I spend more time playing games on my smart phone than talking on it. Our phones have become our family photo albums, personal gaming systems, calendars, encyclopedias, navigators, and instant messengers. If you can think of an activity, there’s probably an app for it.

Unfortunately, some apps might not be what they claim, and downloading the wrong app could put your phone on the fritz. According to the FTC, that’s what happened to thousands of people who downloaded the Prized app before it was removed from the app store.

FTC stops robocall scam

Tired of robocalls? The FTC just shut down Payless Solutions, a scam using illegal robocalls to lie about lowering your credit card interest rate.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC curbs auto dealers’ deceptive advertising

Some auto dealers put tempting promises in their ads. But when you try to close the deal, it’s another story. Such is the case with Las Vegas-area auto dealers, Planet Nissan and Planet Hyundai.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Strings attached to some “risk-free” trial offers

Spot a good deal on a skin care product online? Some ads say you can try a product out for free before committing to it. But know this: “free” trials aren’t always free — they might come with hidden fees and other strings attached.

Free trials video

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

1.5 minutes can save you…a heap of trouble!

We’ve all heard the ads saying that 15 minutes can save you 15%. Some ads claim to save you more in even less time. Well, the FTC can save you lots of headaches in about a minute and a half. We recently released new short videos explaining the basics about three topics that affect millions of us.

Identity theft video

Librarians! Get free FTC materials at the ALA Annual Conference

If you’re headed to San Francisco for the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, stop by to say hello. FTC staff will be at Booth # 2413, ready to hand out our materials – all free, all the time – and talk about how to use them in your library.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Before paying with bitcoins…

If you shop online — and who doesn’t? — you might notice that some websites let you pay with bitcoins. Virtual or crypto currencies like Bitcoin can be a fast way to pay online, or in person with a mobile app.

But using virtual currencies comes with risk. Their value goes up and down — sometimes sharply — depending on demand. In addition, payments made with virtual currencies aren’t reversible and don’t have the same legal protections as some traditional payment methods. Once you hit send, you can’t get your money back unless the seller agrees. That’s why it’s important to know who you’re buying from and what policies they have regarding refunds, returns, and disputes.

Shopping Online with Virtual Currencies

Is a reverse mortgage right for you?

You see the ads on TV, in the newspaper, and online. They push the benefits of a reverse mortgage for homeowners over 62: pay off your existing mortgage, supplement your income, pay for healthcare expenses, and more. But is a reverse mortgage right for you? That depends. While a reverse mortgage may increase your monthly income, it can put your retirement security at risk if you’re not careful.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Buying a flood-damaged car could leave you high and dry

Recent storms and flooding plaguing the Midwest and Southeast could impact car buyers across the country. Vehicles damaged by floods in those area can be cleaned up and taken out of state for sale. You might not know a vehicle is damaged until you take a closer look or have a mechanic check it out.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Fortuneteller or financial advisor?

You might like your financial advisor to predict the future in ways that could help you get rich. But legitimate advisors won’t promise to know what comes next – and you shouldn’t invest with anyone who guarantees you riches. It’s kind of a rule of thumb about investing: there are no guarantees, and anyone who promises you big money is likely running a scam.

How Myriam and Pedro Learned about Notario Scams

The newest issue in our series of Spanish-language fotonovelas teaches readers the warning signs of a notario scam and tells them where they can find help with the immigration process.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Email from OPM – is it the real deal?

You just got an email saying your information was exposed in the OPM data breach. Wondering whether the email is the real deal or not? Here are a few things to look for.

“Doom”ed false promises

Earn rewards for supporting a project you believe in? That’s what “crowdfunding” is all about.

Here’s how it works: “Creators” think of projects. To pay for those projects, they ask for small amounts of money from lots of people, usually through online platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Often, creators offer rewards to contributors. So far, so good … as long as the creators keep their end of the bargain.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Home improvement scams are no laughing matter

I’m a fan of Tim Allen’s role as an accident-prone handyman on the 90’s hit TV comedy, Home Improvement. But in reality, hiring a good contractor isn’t something you just fall into. It helps to know the signs of a home improvement scam.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Section 8 scammers cheat people seeking housing

If you’re looking for Section 8 housing assistance, here’s something you need to know: scammers have made websites that look like registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries. If you pay a fee or give your personal information, the scammers will take it. And you still won’t be on a real Section 8 waiting list. In fact, there is no fee to register for a Section 8 waiting list.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

OPM data breach – what should you do?

A data breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – and you’re a current or former federal employee whose personal information may have been exposed. What should you do? Take a deep breath. Here are the steps to take. 

The 411 on fraud in the 404

When is it uplifting to talk about obstacles to economic opportunities? When a room full of people at a joint conference of the NAACP and the FTC spend a day making the connections we all need to help overcome scams and exactly those obstacles in our communities.

Eye the label before you buy

In the 80s, singer Bonnie Tyler topped the charts with a song that had the lyric, “Turn around, bright eyes.” Who knew that for the millions of Americans diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, Tyler’s power ballad offers a tip to remember next time you’re in the drug store.

If your health care provider suggests you take a vitamin formulation to help manage your condition, check the front of the package and then turn it around to read the ingredient label to make sure you’re getting exactly what he or she recommends.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Is that work-at-home job going to pay?

Are you looking for a job you can do from home? Maybe you want something flexible to balance responsibilities like caring for kids or family members. Or maybe you haven’t been able to find a job, or you need extra income.

Whatever your reason, know this: many work-at-home ads that promise you can earn a great living, even in your spare time, are scams. They won’t deliver on the claims they make.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Mile-high collaboration

The law enforcement community recently came together in Denver at a Common Ground Conference sponsored by the Colorado Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

An alternative perspective

For many of us, homeopathy is one of those things we’ve heard of… but we might not be able to describe it, exactly. It’s a form of alternative medicine, and is based on the view that a substance that causes symptoms of an illness in a healthy person will — when diluted to a level that’s nearly undetectable — cure similar symptoms in sick people.

Why are we talking about this?  Well, the FTC will be hosting a free, public workshop on September 21, 2015, to take a closer look at advertising for over-the-counter homeopathic products.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness