November 2015

Unwanted software can cause unwelcome problems

Does your internet browser ever display ads that just seem wrong — for example, an inappropriate ad on a kid’s website, an ad that blocks content on the page, or an ad on a government site? It might look something like this: 

A scammy diet ad injected into a website for kids

Unwanted software could be to blame...

The stuff of schemes

You’ve heard of the “right stuff” — the mix of bravery and brass that author Tom Wolfe told us powered the nation’s first astronauts to conquer space. Well, here’s the wrong stuff — a work-at-home envelope-stuffing scheme that bilked more than 50,000 people out of over $7 million.

In a case announced today, the FTC charged that convicted felon David Brookman and his companies falsely promised that people could earn $5,000 a week by stuffing envelopes with flyers and mailing them.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Deceptive car ads give consumers a bum steer

Sign & Drive Leases: ZERO DOWN!!!!!! ALL LEASES ARE Zip, Zero, Zilch — Nothing Down

Sound appealing? That’s exactly what some people around Massillon, Ohio thought when they read those claims in full-page newspaper ads from two local car dealers. But the FTC says ads for Progressive Chevrolet and Progressive Motors didn’t properly disclose restrictions on the offer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Tips for Cyber Monday success

Each year, Cyber Monday promises unbelievable savings – but before you start snagging deals, here are some tips to help you save money and protect your personal information.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The FTC’s top 10 holiday shopping tips

Whether you’re shopping by phone, mail or online this holiday season, here are a few tips to help you shop wisely and save a few bucks, too.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Is your information being used for job-related ID theft?

Has your Social Security Number gone to work without you? If someone has used your SSN to get a job, that’s identity theft.

You may be able to discover the identity theft before the IRS sends you a tax bill for income that never passed through your pockets. MyE-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website, also available in Spanish, is part of E-Verify. DHS created E-Verify to help employers check government records to make sure their employees can work legally in the U.S. MyE-Verify lets you see all the employers that checked your records using E-Verify. If you see an employer you don’t know, it may mean that an identity thief is at work.

Hundreds of millions say “Do Not Call”

In Hollywood, you get glitz and glamour when you make it to the “A” list. Here in Washington, I prefer the peace and quiet I get from being on the national Do Not Call list. I’m in good company, too. As of October 1, 2015, the Do Not Call list includes more than 222 million numbers.

Do Not Call Audio Tip

How not to pay a telemarketer

You get a call from a telemarketer selling a fancy new product, and after talking, you decide you want to buy it. That’s when he asks you to wire money for payment, specifying cash pickup. Do you do it?

The answer: No way. Don’t send the money. If you wire money, you can’t get it back. And, thanks to recent changes to the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule — aka the TSR — it’s just plain illegal.

A sensitive subject

If you have a friend or family member dealing with opiate addiction or dependence, you know it’s a sensitive subject. And you want to be supportive if your loved one is trying to overcome addiction to heroin or another opiate.

You may have seen various opiate withdrawal or detox supplements on the market — made with vitamins, minerals, and herbs — that promise fast and easy results and a path to becoming drug-free. But before you recommend them to a loved one, you should know that dietary supplements and herbal remedies have not been proven to work for successful opiate withdrawal.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Have you taken a dietary supplement? Read this.

There are lots of reasons you might take a dietary supplement — to feel healthy, to feel younger, to manage pain, or just to get more nutrients. But while some supplements have proven benefits, some may not work the way their ads claim, and others might be downright dangerous for your health. Yes, even the ones that claim to be “all-natural.”

Today, the FTC along with other federal agencies announced a joint sweep of actions against companies that have misled people about the safety, effectiveness, or contents of their dietary supplements. Specifically, the FTC brought cases against marketers who didn’t have scientific proof that their supplements worked.

dietary supplements image

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Secret Sister Gift Exchange – Don’t pay or yule be sorry

Have you already decked your halls in lights, timed to blink to the strains of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Even if you haven’t reached that level of early enthusiasm, the holiday spirit is starting to spread already. If you spend any time on social media, you may have seen posts about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange.

SSGE encourages you to mail a gift worth $10 dollars to a stranger at the top of the list. Supposedly, in return, you’ll get a pile of presents from other participants. SSGE and come-ons like it encourage you to hop on board an enticing cash- or gift-giving experience. Sounds like a good time, right? Sorry, Blitzen, stop that sleigh!

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Clicking for support could cost you

The next time you get a message offering to fix a supposed problem with your computer, you might keep this in mind: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Because there’s a good chance that call is a tech support scam.

FTC, VA protecting veterans from deceitful schools

Are you a veteran going back to school for a degree or professional certificate? We’ve taken time this week to thank and honor you and other veterans for your service, but we also want to help. That’s where you come in — we need to hear from you.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

House alarms can’t stop scammers

We moved into our house and immediately installed an alarm system to keep us safe from the bad guys. But even the best house alarms can’t stop everything – like a scammer walking through your front door.

Veterans: Don’t let scammers bilk your benefits

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation had more than 9.3 million veterans aged 65 and older in 2013. For most of us, Veterans Day means a time to thank all our former servicemembers. But it’s a sad truth that scammers operate out of greed, not gratitude. Not-so-honest people target older veterans and their families to cheat them out of their hard-earned benefits.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Another abusive debt collector bites the dust

As part of the FTC and New York Attorney General’s crackdown on abusive debt collectors, an operation doing business under several names, including National Check Registry, has agreed to settle charges that it allegedly used a slew of abusive and deceptive tactics to pressure people into making payments on questionable debts.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Medicare ‘Open Enrollment’ scams

The 2015 Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. It’s the time when Medicare recipients can comparison shop and make changes to their plans. It’s also a time when scammers take advantage of older consumers with ruses like these.

Partners bring more than 100 debt collection enforcement actions

When you get more complaints about debt collection than about any other industry, what do you do? If you’re the FTC, you partner with 73 federal, state and local government agencies to bring down the hammer on illegal debt collection. And you collectively bring 115 law enforcement actions, including three brand new cases announced today by the FTC, bringing to 11 the number of cases the FTC has filed against 52 defendants so far this year. That’s more than in any year in FTC history.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A lesson in phantom debt collection

Haunted by debt collectors? Here’s a chilling thought: some debt collectors are calling about debts that aren’t real. The FTC says a company calling itself “Delaware Solutions” and “Clear Credit Solutions,” did just that.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Free phones for veterans? Not quite.

You walk out of a VA facility, and see a booth with people offering free phones and cell service for veterans, all thanks to a government program. It sounds compelling, right?

“Free” might end up costing you a lot of money. The FTC has heard about booths like these — and what happens next. Months later, veterans who signed up for the program get notices saying they need to provide personal information and documents to prove they meet the income requirements — something the people pitching the program never mentioned. Many veterans find that their incomes are too high to qualify for the program, and face losing service or paying for something they thought would be free.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Teaching financial literacy? FTC gives you a Jump$tart

When teachers from across the country meet to improve their ability to teach personal finance, we’re ready to help.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit