April 2016

Jobs ads really a scheme to sell your info

You’re job hunting online and see a job ad for a well-known company. It’s on a site that says it pre-screens people for big employers, like banks, government agencies, and multinational companies. You apply and get a message asking you to schedule an interview.

Not so fast. The “interview” is really a call designed to get you to enroll in specific colleges or career training programs. That’s the story behind the FTC’s complaint against Gigats — also doing business as Expand, Inc., EducationMatch and Softrock, Inc. According to the FTC, instead of interviewing or prescreening people for employers, Gigats ran a deceptive scheme to generate sales leads for its clients.

Eat, drink and be wary

Looking for a good time and good eats at a good price? Getting a deal on a food festival or other event is terrific. But don’t let scammers leave a bad taste in your mouth by taking a big bite out of your money — and giving you nothing in return.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC and NCUA Twitter Chat for Financial Literacy Month

To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, the FTC will be a guest on a live Twitter chat hosted by the National Credit Union Administration. NCUA is a federal agency that works to raise consumer awareness and increase access to credit union services. NCUA and the FTC will share tips about saving, borrowing money, managing credit, and avoiding identity theft and imposter scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Reentering society with consumer savvy

This is National Reentry Week, a time to recognize the work government agencies and others do to address the challenges facing formerly incarcerated people. Consumer knowledge helps with successful reentry, giving people the tools to better manage their finances, make informed buying decisions, and avoid scams.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Scammers offering to help with disability applications

Scammers are trying to get personal information from people by pretending to help with applications for disability benefits and claims. A recent alert from the Social Security Inspector General warns of this phishing scam, and — whether or not you’ve started an application for benefits — these scammers could contact you. They’re taking a shot in the dark, hoping that you have started an application, and hoping you’ll give them a little more info over the phone. To “complete the process,” they might ask you to give, or confirm, your Social Security number or bank account numbers.

If scammers get your information, you could face identity theft and benefit theft. So here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.

Bogus debts, bogus collections

At the FTC, we sue abusive debt collectors and try to do right by people who’ve been harmed by unlawful practices. But we also try to protect people from being harmed in the first place. That’s exactly why I’m here: to warn you about debt collectors calling about debts that the FTC knows are bogus.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How to help the earthquake victims in Ecuador and Japan

The devastation caused by earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan have left people asking how they can help. If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Efficient bulbs light the way

When’s the last time you spent your commute in a horse-drawn carriage? Or calculated a bill on an abacus? This Earth Day, we can reflect on another old-tech consumer item that’s falling out of use: old-fashioned, low-efficiency, incandescent light bulbs. New LED and CFL bulbs last much longer and use less energy – which saves you money on your monthly bill.

Want a one-minute refresher about the Lighting Facts label? Here’s our video.

Video about lumens

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Ooh, a sale! Or is it?

You’re scanning the shelves at a local pharmacy, grocery, or convenience store, and your eyes land on a sales tag. At first glance, it looks like you can get a product for a deep discount. But take a closer look. Will you get a discount today? Or will you have to pay full price today and get money off a future purchase?  

Keep an eye out for creative math on store tags and weekly ads. It might look something like this:

Example of ad

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Financial literacy for every generation

April is Financial Literacy Month. And whether you’re a young adult or someone a bit older, the FTC has a library of free consumer materials to help you make the most of your money and avoid costly scams.

The burning truth about indoor tanning

If you’re easing out of your winter cocoon and planning to slip into a tanning bed for a bronzing, consider the poor moth drawn to a flame: it’s headed for trouble. Experts agree that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from indoor tanning devices damages the skin and increases your risk of cancer.

In its ads, tanning device seller Mercola promised its tanning beds, booths, and lamps were “safe,” would “slash your risk of cancer,” and emitted a red light that could reverse the signs of aging. Mercola’s ads also claimed the FDA endorsed indoor tanning as safe. Not so, says the FTC, which announced that Joseph Mercola and his companies, Mercola.com, LLC, and Mercola.com Health Resources, LLC, will refund up to $5.3 million to customers under a settlement with the agency.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

FTC and its partners get scammers off the street

The FTC protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. We conduct investigations, sue outfits and individuals that break the law, and inform people and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. In 2015, the FTC filed more than 100 law enforcement actions, obtained more than 175 orders against defendants, and refunded more than $22 million to consumers.

The FTC is a civil law enforcement agency. That means that while we can’t put people in jail, many of our partners can — and do.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Super (un)natural product claims

For lovers of word-association games: what words leap to mind when you think of “all natural” ingredients?

Did you pick “Dimethicone,” “Phenoxyethanol,” or “Polyethylene”? Perhaps “Butyloctyl alicylate,” “Polyquaternium-37,” or “Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate”? No? Well, not to worry — you haven’t lost the game. But five companies that tagged products that contained one or more of these ingredients as “all natural” or “100% natural” are now rethinking their strategy.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Identity theft target turns the tables

I admit it; when my email inbox is full, my eyes may drift past some messages. But my co-worker’s story has motivated me to pay better attention. She noticed an odd email her husband got and looked into it. It turned out that someone had stolen his personal information and used it to buy things.

Image of IdentityTheft.gov home page

Buying contacts? You should see a prescription first

The FTC’s Contact Lens Rule makes it easier to comparison shop – which can help you save money. You see (no pun, intended), the Rule gives you the right to get your prescription from your eye doctor – whether you ask for it or not – at no extra charge. You can use the prescription to buy contacts wherever they are sold – from an eye doctor, from a store, or online. Cost and quality can vary a lot from seller to seller, so it pays to shop around for the best deal.

Your eye doctor must give you your contact lens prescription after your fitting. It’s the law

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

The FTC’s best of 2015

Here at the FTC, we spend most of our time working to protect your consumer rights and promote fair competition among companies. We conduct investigations, bring cases, give people tips and advice, help businesses comply with the law, and advocate for consumer-friendly policies around the world.

Every once in a while, we take a moment to measure our impact and consider what we’ve accomplished. That lets us explain our approach to people and companies that want to know, and helps us plan for the future.

In that spirit, today we released the FTC’s Annual Highlights for 2015.

Image of FTC's Annual highlights

Official-sounding calls about an email hack

There’s a new twist on tech-support scams — you know, the one where crooks try to get access to your computer or sensitive information by offering to “fix” a computer problem that doesn’t actually exist. Lately, we’ve heard reports that people are getting calls from someone claiming to be from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. Their claim? That your email account has been hacked and is sending fraudulent messages. They say they’ll have to take legal action against you, unless you let them fix the problem right away.

21st Century Oncology breach exposes patients’ info

Have you received a letter from 21st Century Oncology warning that your personal information was exposed? 21st Century Oncology is a medical company. Many of the doctors who work with it practice under their own names or the names of medical groups. Some treat patients who are not cancer patients.

The company recently announced that a cyber intruder broke into a company database containing information about more than 2.2 million past and present patients, including patients’ names, Social Security numbers, physicians’ names, diagnoses, and treatment and insurance information.

The company recently sent patients letters about the breach that included an offer of one year of free credit protection services. Here are some things to know if you got a letter.