February 2017

Tune in to NCPW on Facebook Live, Twitter and a Podcast

New for National Consumer Protection Week 2017, the FTC will take part in a Facebook Live chat with USA.gov on Tuesday, March 7th at 2:30pm Eastern.

FTC to Explore Charitable Solicitations

Americans are among the most generous people in the world, contributing more than $373 billion to charity in 2015, according to The Giving Institute. We’re all familiar with phone calls, mailers, and TV and radio spots seeking donations, but the times are changing. Evolving marketing practices and new technologies have introduced new ways to solicit contributions and donate. That’s just one of the reasons the FTC and the National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO) are hosting a workshop on March 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Prize Scams: Don’t Pay to Play

You get a phone call from an excited caller saying you’ve won a trip, a car, or a lot of money. Next, they ask you to send money before you get the prize. That is a sure sign of a scam.

Recently, we’ve heard about a spike in prize scam calls. Although there are some legitimate contests, remember: there are a lot of scams. Here are a few ways to spot a prize scam:

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers are spoofing news sites to promote health products

Scammers will do just about anything to rip you off. They will create fake websites, use fake endorsements from public figures, lie about the effectiveness of their products, and much more.

We did some investigating and found that a number of shady companies selling “brain booster” pills are using these exact tactics to promote their products. Here’s how:

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Risk free trials were bait for rip offs

Did you ever sign up for a free trial of a product you heard about on the radio? Some sellers will send you — and charge you — a lot more than you agreed to. The FTC says one group of dietary supplement marketers sold products through deceptive “risk free” offers and charged people repeatedly for unwanted products.

the title slide of a video called Free Trial Offers

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Product reviews: you’re free to speak your mind

Here’s some good news for everyone who likes to write — and read — product reviews. A new federal law says businesses can't use contracts that prevent you from writing a truthful comment, or penalize you if you do.

Image of Shopping infographic

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Military Saves Week Twitter chat

Military Saves Week is February 27 through March 4.  Join @MilConsumer for a Twitter chat today with @Military Saves as we talk about how servicemembers and military families can boost their savings.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Global Connect technical support scam, part 2

Last fall, the FTC shut down an operation called Global Connect, which sent deceptive pop-up messages to people’s computers. The pop-ups claimed the computers had problems when they really didn’t, and the operators scared thousands of people into paying hundreds of dollars each for tech support services they didn’t need.We recently learned that some of these same people are getting called again.

FTC works to get you funeral price information

When the FTC wants to know whether funeral homes are following the Funeral Rule and giving people the required price information about funeral products and services, it sends undercover investigators into funeral homes. The investigators pretend to be someone who needs to make funeral arrangements.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scam money runners

When you hear about people getting scammed into wiring money, do you ever wonder who’s picking the money up on the other end?

In the case of people scammed by certain call centers in India, the answer was employees of PHLG Enterprises.
 

FTC schools student loan debt collectors

If you’ve defaulted on a federal student loan, chances are you’ll hear from a debt collector. Debt collectors must obey the law when trying to find people who owe money. One student loan debt collector — GC Services, LP — failed to follow the law, and the FTC is taking action against them.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Keeping track of your magazine subscriptions

I enjoy reading magazines related to my hobbies, for trends and inspiration. But sometimes I get overwhelmed by renewal notices. Keeping track of the expiration dates for my magazine subscriptions can get confusing, especially when I get multiple renewal notices for the same publication. Sound familiar? Well, here are a few tips to help keep track of magazine subscriptions.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

$2.59 million in refunds for Mercola tanning beds

Today, checks went out to 1,367 people who bought a Mercola tanning system after January 1, 2012. Why’s that? Well, in April 2016, the FTC announced a settlement with Joseph Mercola and his companies because, according to the FTC, the ads for Mercola’s products had claims that were false or not backed by science.

VIZIO Settlement: Smart TVs should not track your shows without your O.K.

For decades, only you knew the television programs you watched from your living room. That’s starting to change. The FTC recently explored this at its Smart TV workshop. The data generated when you watch television can reveal a lot about you and your household. So, before a company pulls up a chair next to you and starts taking careful notes on everything you watch (and then shares it with its partners), it should ask if that’s O.K. with you. VIZIO wasn’t doing that, and the FTC stepped in.

Stratford refunds for H.S. “diploma” program

Did you get a high school “diploma” from Stratford Career Institute or are you currently enrolled in its high school program? If so, you want to read this. Last February, the FTC sued Stratford Career Institute for misleading advertising of its high school program. Today, the FTC announcedd that Stratford has agreed to return money to people it deceived.   

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

FTC filters out an inaccurate built in the USA claim

If you decide to buy a water filtration system, there are a lot of choices. If a company says its filtration products are “Built in the USA,” that might influence your decision. But what would you think if you learned those filtration products were actually imported from overseas?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

VW settles over false green claims for 3.0 liter diesel cars

Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Volkswagen over 3.0 liter diesel cars the company claimed had low levels of harmful emissions, but did not. The settlement affects more than 77,000 cars made by VW, Audi or Porsche. These cars were not covered by the settlement announced last year, which covered similar false advertising for VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars.