May 2017

Bogus trampoline review sites left buyers up in the air

When shopping for a big-ticket item, you probably do some research. Whether talking to friends, perusing a store, or checking online reviews, you want to get the most for your money. You might even look for reviews or certifications from independent review organizations to help make your decision.

What if you found out that some of those “independent” review organizations were actually owned by the company whose products they were promoting? That’s just the case with a recent FTC settlement announced today involving the owners of several trampoline companies. The problem? The owners also ran several trampoline review websites that claimed to be independent organizations and featured product reviews supposedly written by impartial experts. The truth is, the owners were running these websites, writing the reviews, and using them to promote their own products.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Pure Health and Genesis Today refunds

The FTC will mail more than $1.9 million in refund checks to people who bought Pure Health and Genesis Today green coffee bean extract supplements from stores including Walmart. More than 38,500 people will get back 100% of the money they paid for the products.

Amazon offers refunds for unauthorized in-app charges

Amazon will make up to $70 million in refunds available to customers who were charged for unauthorized in-app purchases made by a child. You may be eligible for a refund from Amazon if you were billed for unauthorized charges made by a child, and the charges were for in-app purchases made between November 2011 and May 2016.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Honor and remember

Whether stationed stateside or deployed to another part of the world, our military personnel make sacrifices during their service.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Student loan scam gets an F from the FTC

The costs of student loans and fees can be overwhelming. You might see online ads that promise to help lower your payments or get your loans forgiven. But be wary of companies that make those promises, and never pay an upfront fee.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How fast will identity thieves use stolen info?

If you’ve been affected by a data breach, or otherwise had your information hacked or stolen, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What happens when my stolen information is made public?” At the FTC’s Identity Theft workshop this morning, our Office of Technology staff reported on research they did to find out.

I’d like a scam-free vacation

Summer is around the corner, and I’m dreaming about my next vacation! There are so many places to visit, and a lot of travel deals to consider. My budget and time are limited, so I have to choose carefully. I simply can’t afford losing out to a travel scam.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scam calls to immigrants

When you tell us about a scam, it helps us investigate scammers. But it also helps us warn other people about the scam – so they can avoid it. Our partners at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told us about a new twist on a common phone scam: scammers are calling immigrants in the US – but this time, the scammers are pretending to be from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

New Medicare cards are on the way

Changes are coming to your Medicare card. By April 2019, your card will be replaced with one that no longer shows your Social Security number. And it will all happen automatically – you won’t have to pay anyone or give anyone information, no matter what someone might tell you.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

New dietary supplement website launched

Ever wonder if your dietary supplements are truly safe, effective and risk-free? If you are a member of the military, this question can be particularly important. Servicemembers often are targeted by companies selling supplements: to help members of the military lose weight, enhance workouts, or be in top shape for battle. If you’re considering using a dietary supplement, you may be aware of some of the potential health risks. But you also might want to know which supplements can be risky for your military career.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Fake emails could cost you thousands

Think you got an email from a business you know? Scammers sometimes use emails that look legit to trick you into sending money to them.

Ransomware worries? Keep up to date.

You’ve probably heard about the ransomware attack affecting organizations’ computer systems around the world. It seems to affect server software on organizations’ networked computers. But ransomware can attack anybody’s computer, so now is a good time to update your own operating system and other software. And then keep them up-to-date.

Phony telephone number scam targets veterans

There’s a new scam out there, preying on veterans who are making decisions about their medical care. The Veterans Choice Program (VCP) is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program allows certain eligible vets to use approved health care providers who are outside of the VA system. Veterans or families can call the VCP’s toll-free number to verify their eligibility for the program. Here’s the problem: Scammers have set up a phony telephone line that very closely resembles the VCP’s real telephone number.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Pass it on: tech support scams

Earlier today, we announced a bunch of cases against tech support scammers: the people who act like there’s a problem with your computer and then try to convince you to fork over money to fix – ahem – “fix” it. Except there never was a problem, and they weren’t really from tech support.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Avoid a tech trap

Scammers have been taking advantage of people who care about computer security. They ran operations in the US and overseas that used pop-up messages and phone calls to convince people their computers needed fixing. The FTC announced four new cases against these operations today, and — along with its state, federal and international partners — launched a national and international effort to stop these scams and get money back to the victims.

Woman talking with telemarketer

 

Keep your mom scam-free this Mother’s Day

Growing up, my mother gave me her own version of “scam alerts.” She let me know when an offer sounded fishy and told me stories of fraudsters conning people out of their hard-earned money. Maybe your mom did too. This Mother’s Day, why not return the favor by letting mom know about the FTC’s Scam Alerts?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Rounding up foreign lottery scammers

In the past, we’ve told you about a group of Jamaican scammers who called people in the US with phony prize, sweepstakes and lottery offers. Just last week, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that eight Jamaicans were extradited to the US and now are in custody in North Dakota. These eight people were charged with using a lottery scam to trick at least 90 people out of more than $5.7 million dollars.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Third parties can’t get you more money for VW claims

Claims processing is underway for eligible VW owners and lessees as part of the VW 2.0 liter vehicle emissions settlements. If the court approves the proposed 3.0 liter settlement, claims processing for the 3.0 liter vehicle emissions settlements may begin soon. Through these settlements, consumers will have billions of dollars returned to them.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

New FTC website helps small businesses

When scammers and hackers attack small businesses, it hurts not only the businesses’ reputations and bottom line, but also the integrity of the marketplace.  Today, FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen announced a new FTC website, FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, to help business owners avoid scams, protect their computers and networks, and keep their customers’ and employees’ data safe.

If you own a business you’ll want to check it out!

Privacy Awareness Week: A time to learn

Privacy Awareness Week is May 8-12, 2017. It’s an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum that combines the efforts of privacy agencies in the region to share information about privacy practices and rules.

Join the #Milchat about rental scams

On May 11, @MilConsumer and @StopFraudCo (the Stop Fraud campaign of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office) will host a chat to discuss consumer challenges related to permanent changes of station during military service.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Who's really calling?

The millions of people who reported scams last year told us that imposters were the top fraud of the year. Imposters have called many of us – maybe even most of us, pretending to be anyone from the IRS to a family member in trouble, from fake tech “help” for your computer to a business selling things that turned out to be bogus. Their goal? To get your money as quickly as possible.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Dealing with opiate withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal or dependence are serious and difficult health issues that take time, hard work, and should be addressed with help from a medical professional. Sometimes people will consider a dietary supplement in the hope of getting faster, cheaper help – and there are opiate withdrawal or detox supplements on the market that promise fast results and a path to being drug-free. But, based on the FTC’s past experience, such promises can’t be taken at face value.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

DeVry refund update

As part of the FTC’s settlement with DeVry University for deceptive advertising, the school agreed to pay $49.4 million to the FTC for partial refunds to some students. The FTC plans to mail checks before the end of the summer to people who meet certain conditions.