October 2015

It would be so wise!

I know what you’re thinking. It’s barely Halloween and the Christmas decorations are up. You’re worried because you don’t have a lot of cash or don’t want to run up a lot of debt.

The good news is that some sellers offer layaway to help you spread your payments out. You start paying early and they hold on to your gifts until you pay them off. But bear in mind that layaway fees and policies can vary a great deal. Check them carefully before you sign up.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FREE resources for educators

Are you a teacher looking for online safety resources to share with your students? You’re in luck. The FTC offers FREE resources on topics including cyberbullying, using public Wi-Fi safely, advertising literacy, downloading apps, protecting personal information online, and much more.

Image of kids using smartphones

When dead debt comes back to life

With Halloween almost here, we’ve got a question for you — are your zombie-fighting skills up to snuff?

We’re not talking about fighting just any zombie — this time your undead enemy is zombie debt.

Zombie debt is debt you think is dead, gone, and forgotten, but has somehow come back to life. Here are some tips for battling zombie debt when a collector resurrects it.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Copycat scammers and the visa lottery

Each year, the U.S. State Department holds a Diversity Visa (DV) lottery and millions of people from eligible countries enter their names. They hope to win a chance to apply for a U.S. visa and become legal permanent residents. The State Department runs the only legitimate site for the lottery: www.dvlottery.state.gov, and there’s no fee to enter. If you get an email or see a website that claims to be about the DV lottery, but asks you to send money, don’t click on a link or give up personal information.

Image of narrator of Diversity Visa Lottery video

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Don't forget the debt

When a loved one passes away, the last thing on your mind is hassling with debt collectors. But you may have the job of managing the deceased’s assets – and you could find yourself handling an estate that includes outstanding debts. Keep these considerations in mind.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Gamers: Avoid the phishing hook

Did you ever get an email that seemed legit, but it asked you to click a link or give up some personal information? Well, if you play massive multiplayer online games, be warned: phishers are looking for ways to get those emails into your inbox.

Take notice: How your credit history can affect your monthly bill

When you apply for things like cable or satellite TV, mobile phone service, or internet service, the company might review your credit report. They can use the information in your credit report to give you less favorable terms, meaning they can charge you more for the service than someone with a better credit history. That’s called risk-based pricing. The law says it’s OK as long as the company lets you know about it by sending you a Risk-Based Pricing Notice.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Fake kidnappers cause genuine loss

Phone scammers spend their days making trouble. They waste our time, tie up our phone lines and harass us with ugly language. Some do much, much worse. The FTC has heard from people who got calls from scammers saying, “I’ve kidnapped your relative,” and naming a brother, sister, child or parent. “Send ransom immediately by wire transfer or prepaid card,” they say, “or something bad will happen.”

They’re lying. They didn’t kidnap anyone, but they hope you’ll panic and rush to pay ransom before checking the story.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Your online life after death

OK, so I know you don’t really want to talk about this – but here goes: we’re all going to die someday. Maybe you’ve already started thinking ahead: planning for your funeral, the care of loved ones and disposal of your property. But what about your online life? All the digital files, photos, posts and other accounts you leave behind might cause a lot of inconvenience – even fraud or identity theft – for your loved ones to clean up. Here are a few tips to figure out a plan for your online life after death.

FTC & NCUA offer cyber security tips

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so the FTC and the National Credit Union Administration are teaming up on a live Twitter chat to talk about tips to protect your information. During the chat, the FTC will share tips and tools from Consumer.FTC.gov and OnGuardOnline.gov. NCUA will share resources from MyCreditUnion.gov on how consumers can protect their finances.

Scam du jour: Chip card scams

Recently, I told you about the new credit and debit chip cards designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting. Now, I'm reporting on scammers who are trying to take advantage of the millions of consumers who haven't yet received a chip card.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

When post-disaster scams strike

It’s been a year of weather woes, with South Carolina being the latest victim – floods have swept across much of the state. You can be sure it’s only a matter of time before scammers come calling to wreak a different type of devastation.

Here are some ways to arm yourself against scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Protecting your child’s information after a data breach

If you’ve ever had your information exposed in a data breach, you know it can be stressful. Depending on what information is exposed, you might have to cancel credit or debit cards, change online passwords, or even put a freeze on your credit.

But what happens if your child’s personal information is exposed, too?

Reporting international scams

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve heard us say repeatedly to report scams to the FTC. If you report scams to us, we can bring the kinds of cases that shut down the scammers.

But there’s another place to report international scams, too: econsumer.gov.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Buying a do-it-yourself medical device? Think again.

If you’re like me, you’ve done your share of DIY projects. But there are definitely some things — like using medical devices for weight-loss — that aren’t really meant for DIY.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

What to know about the new credit and debit chip cards

Coming to a wallet near you: new credit and debit chip cards. They’re part of a nationwide shift by major card issuers to offer added security against fraud. The new cards look like your old cards with one exception: they have a small square metallic chip on the front. The chip holds your payment data — some of which is currently held on the magnetic stripe on your old cards — and provides a unique code for each purchase. The metallic chip is designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting. Here’s how it works...

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers’ insults and injury

Scammers are big on hiding behind fake names and titles. We’ve heard from hundreds of people who got calls from fake ‘court officials’ about jury duty. The fraudsters claimed to be court officers, accused people of skipping jury duty and said they had to pay a fine immediately or face arrest. If you get a call like that, hang up. That’s not a real official calling.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

#CyberAware

You know what would go great with your pumpkin spiced treats this October? Cyber security! Okay, now that I have your attention, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to be #CyberAware. There are plenty of ways to participate.

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