August 2016

When your computer life is held for ransom

Imagine if everything on your computer was “kidnapped” — including all of your precious family photos and important personal documents. And the only way you could access any of it again was if you paid a lot of money — or bitcoins — to a hacker. Even if you pay, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your stuff back.

Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Unfortunately, it’s happening in real life. It’s called ransomware.

What is your phone telling your rental car?

When I rent a car, it’s fun to get all the bells and whistles – like navigation, hands-free calls and texts, streaming music and even web browsing. But did you know that cars with these features might keep your personal information, long after you’ve returned your rental car? Here are some things to keep in mind when renting a connected car.

“Free trial” scammers settle, surrender millions

In 2010, the FTC sued Jeremy Johnson, his company IWorks, and nine others for allegedly taking more than $280 million from people with a deceptive “free trial” scheme. Now Johnson, his family members, and more than two dozen corporate defendants have settled FTC charges and will give up millions of dollars in cash, stock, jewelry, aircraft, real estate and other assets.

Image of Free Trial Offers video

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Academics and scientists: Beware of predatory journal publishers

If you’re a scholar or scientist, you know the value of being published in an academic journal.  Unfortunately, some dishonest publishers also understand this — and have used it to profit from rather than promote legitimate advancements in research and academia.

In its lawsuit against OMICS Group — which operates hundreds of online journals in a variety of fields — the FTC says the company bombards people with emails soliciting articles, misrepresents the reputation of its publications, and doesn’t disclose that authors have to pay substantial fees — ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars — to be published.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

The top three ways to avoid fraud

In pretty much every article and blog post we put out, you’ll find tips to help you avoid scams. The idea is that, if you can spot a scam, and know how to avoid it, you and your money are more likely to stay together.

Today, we’re releasing a brochure that distills those tips down to the top 10 ways to avoid fraud. This brochure – available online and in print – is your one-stop resource to help you spot imposters, know what to do about robocalls, and how to check out a scammer’s claims.

Early VW buyback offers could cost you

Lately, we’ve been hearing from people who have gotten offers for their VW or Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars. Recent offers. Sometimes even using the term “buyback” – which isn’t exactly normal car trade-in language.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Shopping for a car? Be alert for flood damage.

It seems to happen after every major flood… damaged cars are cleaned up and taken out of state for sale. In fact, some experts estimate that, typically, half of all vehicles damaged by flooding eventually return to market.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Surviving a flood — Dealing with the aftermath

Once the floodwaters have receded, it’s time to take stock and develop a recovery plan. It can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips and links to resources to help make the task less burdensome.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Helping Victims of the Flooding in Louisiana — Make Sure Your Donations Count

It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes, and businesses to the ongoing flooding in Louisiana. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity.


Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Car ads broke the law — again

You’ve seen the ads — car dealers hyping big discounts, low prices and low monthly payments, and great financing deals.

Ads about good deals on cars? Not a problem. Leaving out important details about how you qualify for those deals? That’s a problem. By law, dealers’ ads must clearly disclose any “catches” — like if getting that low monthly payment requires money up-front, or if a deal is limited to people who qualify for low financing rates.

That’s the issue behind the FTC’s new settlement with Dallas-area Southwest Kia dealers.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Stranger than family

Have you ever gotten a phone call from someone pretending to be a family member? They might say it is an emergency – maybe somebody is in jail, in the hospital, or being held hostage. What’s common to all of these calls is that they end with the caller asking you to send money. These calls are scams no matter how convincing they sound.

FTC and CDC Twitter Chat for Contact Lens Health Week

To promote Contact Lens Health Week, the FTC will be a guest on a live Twitter chat hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The chat is scheduled for Monday, August 22 at Noon Eastern.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

You want online security tips? We’ve got ‘em.

Ever wonder if you’re taking the right steps to keep your devices and information secure? Perhaps you’re a parent or educator looking for tips to help protect kids online. Or maybe you’re looking for useful videos to watch — or to share with colleagues or friends. 

We’ve got free online security tips — videos, games, articles, blogs, and toolkits — for you to use and share.

Need a locksmith?

If you’re locked out of your home or car, you may need to find a locksmith. As you search online, you’ll probably see multiple ads that appear to be for local businesses. In reality, some will actually connect you to call centers in another city.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

VW owners, get the facts!

You may have heard that Volkswagen has agreed to a settlement with the FTC that will provide up to $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars. VW claimed 500,000 cars had low levels of harmful emissions, but they were actually much higher.

Did you know that VW will buy back affected cars for thousands of dollars more than their current replacement value? That’s compensation for VW’s untrue emissions claims and for the trouble of replacing the car.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Will those insect repellents protect you from Zika?

Mosquitoes are in the news — and in popular vacation spots. If you’re worried about the Zika virus or other mosquito-borne diseases, you’ll find all sorts of products — including wristbands, stickers, and patches — that say they’ll repel mosquitos that carry Zika. But do they really work? Are you and your family as protected as they claim?

Maybe not. The FTC is concerned that some products don’t work as advertised. That’s why the FTC sent warning letters to 10 companies selling these products, urging them to remove any health claims that aren’t backed by scientific evidence — especially claims about preventing Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

So how can you be sure you’re buying an insect repellent that works as promised?

image of mosquito

Pet food that makes your dog live longer?

Dogs are more than pets — they’re furry family members. If you thought you could help your dog live 30% longer just by choosing different dog food, would you pass up the chance?

That’s exactly what ads for Eukanuba dog food claimed it could do. But according to an FTC settlement with Mars Petcare US announced today, it wasn’t true.

How to spot a car wrap scam

Have you seen ads promising easy money if you shrink-wrap your car — with ads for brands like Monster Energy, Red Bull, or Pepsi? The “company” behind the ads says all you have to do is deposit a check, use part of it to pay a specified shrink-wrap vendor, and drive around like you normally would.

But don’t jump onto the bandwagon. It’s only easy money for the scammer who placed the ads.

SEC imposters - don’t be twice fooled

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” is an old adage. While there’s no shame in being the victim of a scam, nobody wants to be a victim twice. That’s why the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning consumers about a government imposter scam that targets people who’ve already been victims of fraud.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit