June 2016

Gear up for a great trip

So, who’s ready for a summer break? Maybe you’re planning to frolic by the seashore, chill out in the mountains, or take in the sights and sounds of the big city. Just remember -- scammers don’t take a vacation. But the FTC can help you spot some common pitfalls so you don’t get tripped up by your travel plans.

 

  

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Spreading the word on “Medicare” scams

Some scams target all of us.  IRS imposters, scammers offering to lower your credit card payments, and fake debt collectors blast out billions of robocalls, seemingly at random.

But, sometimes, scammers focus their pitch on a particular audience. They figure out what might make it seem like the message is really aimed at you. And scammers can be very persistent and very convincing.

$10 billion for consumers over VW’s false clean car claims

Under a partial settlement filed today by the FTC, Volkswagen is agreeing to provide up to $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars that it claimed had low levels of harmful emissions, but did not. It’s the largest false advertising case in FTC history. Approximately 475,000 cars are affected.

 a buyback of your car or early lease termination or if approved by EPA and CARB, a modification to your car to improve emissions and cash. Some former owners and lessees also are eligible to receive cash.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

New limits on telemarketers

Fraudulent telemarketers ask people to pay with systems — like cash-to-cash transfers or cash reload card PINs — that deliver a quick, anonymous cash payout. However, it’s now illegal for telemarketers to ask for payment by cash-to-cash money transfers — like those from MoneyGram and Western Union, or PINs from cash reload cards like MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scams, Too

What’s worse than losing money to a scammer? Losing more money to another scammer claiming to help you recover from the first one.

Yep; this really happens. It works like this: Con artists contact you because you’re on their lists of people who lost money to scams. For a “small fee” or “donation” upfront, they promise to recover the money you lost from a prize scheme, bogus product offer, or some other scam.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Online tracking – more than cookies

Wondering why you keep getting online ads targeted to you? Then, check out the FTC’s updated guidance on online tracking. It describes different methods of tracking, how they work, and how you can control them.

Refunds for Kevin Trudeau’s victims

Hundreds of thousands of people who bought Kevin Trudeau’s book “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” after watching his deceptive infomercials will get money back, thanks to the FTC.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Has your cell phone fallen for a smooth operator?

When you adjust the settings on your mobile device to keep your location private, you expect your location will be private. Right? Maybe not. An FTC case announced today alleges a mobile advertising company secretly tracked people through their devices, regardless of their privacy settings.

Password breaches – What to do

With hundreds of millions of usernames and passwords exposed by breaches recently in the news, you may be wondering how to keep your information safe. Whether you’ve been part of a breach or not, it’s a good time to take steps to protect your usernames and passwords.

“Doctor Trusted” couldn’t be trusted

Do you ever shop online for health products, like dietary supplements? Maybe you’ve seen various seals and certificates on sites you visit — showing that a site is secure, or that products on the site have been tested and evaluated. You’d think you could trust those seals and certificates — but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

The FTC recently announced a settlement with SmartClick Media, a company that sold deceptive “Doctor Trusted” health seals to over 800 websites.

Government imposters bring bad business to small businesses

You’ve started a new business and want to ensure you’re doing everything right. So, when people claiming to be with the government call you to say you’re violating the law, you may be inclined to do whatever they say to fix it…right?

Slow down. Government imposters are counting on that reaction — because that’s their business.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Avoid a debt relief scam [fotonovela]

Maria and Rafael are thrilled that their daughter just graduated college and they’re ready to celebrate with friends and family. Abuela even made her famous tamales for the special occasion! At the party, Maria and Rafael beam with pride. 

Soon after the festivities wind down, reality sets in and Rafael starts worrying. They have to start paying back the money they owe for their daughter’s college education, but he’s been out of work for months. What’s he going to do?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Exposing a mortgage relief scheme’s empty promises

If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, you might look for financial relief to help keep the roof over your head. Do you turn to your bank or mortgage lender for help? Maybe you got a mailer promising mortgage relief – via a lawsuit against banks and lenders? If you’ve thought about the last option, watch out for empty promises.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – Playing a part in prevention

It’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – it’s not a celebratory day, but rather a day to talk about preventing, identifying, and responding to elder abuse and financial exploitation. Whether you are an older adult, care for one, or simply know someone who is a senior, you can do something to prevent elder financial abuse. Here are some tips and tools to help you play a part.

Combating Fraud in African-American and Latino Communities

When we say we’re fighting fraud in every community here at the FTC, we mean it. We’re bringing cases and reaching out to diverse segments of the population: servicemembers and veterans, older adults, Asian Americans, Native Americans, the disability community, LGBT individuals and groups – and African American and Latino communities.

The FTC gets Rachel the Robocaller… again

Have you gotten pre-recorded sales calls from Rachel from Cardholder Services? Or Bank Card Services or Credit Assistance Program? You’ve been reporting these illegal calls, and the FTC continues to take action.

Today, the FTC and the state of Florida announced a lawsuit against Life Management Services, a company that the FTC says is behind hundreds of thousands of these calls.

Scammers say “Help Wanted”

Criminals don’t like getting caught. So, when they want to send and receive stolen money, they get someone else to do the dirty work. Some scammers develop online relationships and ask their new sweetheart or friend to accept a deposit and transfer funds for them. Other cons recruit victims with job ads that seem like they’re for legit jobs. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

A false appeal to your sense of charity

If you get a call asking you to give to a charity, you might be tempted to say yes without a second thought. But as with any call you get from someone asking for money out of the blue, pause and do some research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.

Unfortunately, there are for-profit companies — like American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc. (AHDW) — that pretend to be charitable organizations and lie about how they use donations. The FTC sued AHDW for deceiving people. Here’s the story.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Who are you talking to?

Imagine what you’d say – or write – about your health to a group of strangers. Or a friend. Or, say, your doctor. Probably different, right?

According to a settlement just announced by the FTC, a company called Practice Fusion published comments from many people who likely thought they were communicating directly with their doctor. Numerous people wrote about things like prescriptions. Facelifts. Depression. Some people also included with this information their full name, phone number, and other stuff you don't usually share with the world. But then those seemingly private messages went public.

Identity theft… by mobile phone

Identity theft can happen to you – and your mobile phone. It has even happened to the FTC’s Chief Technologist, Lorrie Cranor, and other FTC colleagues.

How does it happen? You might get a bill for a new mobile phone that you didn’t order. The thief used your personal information to open a new account. Or maybe your phone stops working entirely because a thief used your information to upgrade to a new phone and then shut off the phone you’re using.      

What can you do to reduce the risk of mobile phone identity theft?

Fake friends, fake news, phony weight-loss promises

An email from a friend urges you to try new weight-loss pills. There’s a link to an article about a celebrity’s amazing results with the pills, and the article’s author says he even tried this miracle product himself.

With all these trusted sources, why wouldn’t you give it a try?

Silver and golden opportunities?

You may have seen TV ads that claim buying gold is an easy way to earn easy profits, or build a safe retirement investment. While buying gold might help diversify your investment portfolio, is it always a good way to build your retirement? Or might it be an investment scheme disguised as a golden opportunity?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How to avoid imposters: 4 videos you need to see

A person pretends to be someone you trust and tries to convince you to send them money. They’re called imposter scams, and scammers use all kinds of angles to make their stories sound believable. If you — or your friends and family — haven’t been targeted by one yet, it’s almost certain you will be.

Learn how to fight fraud – at your library!

Book lovers flock to their local library to pick up a favorite classic or the latest bestseller. But today library visitors also want and need a whole lot more. In addition to providing traditional services, librarians help diverse groups of people navigate a complicated world, including how to avoid scams.

As for scams, there’s one thing we know for sure: we’re all consumers – and we’re all targets for fraud. Scammers are good at what they do. They’re professionals who know how to create confusion and prey on emotions to throw people off-balance just long enough to take advantage. Our job is to give people a heads-up so that maybe they don’t get knocked off balance and they don’t get ripped off.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit