June 2017

Month of the Military Consumer

July is Month of the Military Consumer. It’s a great time to remind servicemembers, veterans, and their families of the helpful tips you can find at Military.Consumer.gov.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Military Consumer Financial Workshop is July 19th

I’m the proud daughter of a Navy veteran, and attended school on two military bases from elementary through high school. Looking back – although I may not have fully understood the consequences at the time – I see how various financial issues and scams affected the lives of my military friends and their families. That’s why I take consumer protection for servicemembers, veterans and their families seriously. For me, it’s personal. It’s also a top priority for the FTC.

Check up on your credit every year

Did you ever apply for credit and were refused? There may be something on your credit report that’s holding you back. But it might not all be accurate. Checking your credit report at least once a year helps you know what’s there – and keeps you on track for a healthier financial future.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Ransomware re-do? Back up your files.

Based on early news reports, it’s possible that another widespread ransomware attack is sweeping the globe. It may spread using the same vulnerability that the WannaCry attack used in May, or it may be a new virus. Either way, if organizations don’t patch their software, they’re at risk. It’s crucial to keep operating systems and other software up to date.

Protect your mortgage closing from scammers

It’s National Homeownership Month, and the FTC and the National Association of Realtors® want to remind you that scammers sometimes use emails to rob home buyers of their closing costs and personal information.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Calling foul on scammy business coaches

Starting a small business is a big deal. That’s why people might consider getting a business coach to help. But what if the coach doesn’t help, but actually hurts your interests? Unfortunately, that’s what happened to thousands of people who wanted to start home-based internet businesses.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Economic Liberty Task Force roundtable about professional licensing

Moving can be daunting, but for millions of Americans, the biggest relocation challenge might be related to their jobs: getting a professional license in a new state. The obstacles aren’t just paperwork and fees. Licensing requirements often vary from state to state so you might have to take additional courses or get specialized on-the-job experience – even if you’ve been working in the same profession for years.

Company kept collecting debts it knew were phony

Have you gotten a call, a letter, an email, or a text message about a debt that sounds fishy? Don’t take the bait, because “phantom” debt collectors try to pressure people into paying debts they don’t really owe. In its effort to crack down on phantom debt collectors, the FTC has charged a North Carolina operation with collecting over $30,000 in fake debts, despite consumer complaints that the debts weren’t real.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers don’t really give refunds

The FTC has been cracking down on deceptive tech support operations that call or send pop-ups to make people think their computers are infected with viruses. Recently, a woman who lost money to one of the defendant’s in the FTC cases got a call from someone who claimed to be with a company the FTC sued. (It was a lie. In reality, the company has closed.)

Avoid skimmers at the pump

Skimmers are illegal card readers attached to payment terminals — like gas pumps — that grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without your knowledge. Criminals sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online. You won’t know your information has been stolen until you get your statement or an overdraft notice. Here are tips to help you avoid a skimmer when you gas up.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The FTC doesn’t need your bank info

Some people have gotten an email that claims to be from Maureen Ohlhausen, the FTC’s Acting Chairman. But it’s not. The email asks you to give your bank account information – so, it says, you can get money from the government’s settlement with Western Union. The email is a scam to steal your financial information.

Headed to the eye doctor? Take a look at this video

Before you head to the eye doctor, take 30 seconds to watch a new video from the FTC about your eyewear prescription rights.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Signs of a debt relief scam

If you feel smothered by your monthly bills, a call from someone who says they can reduce or eliminate your debts might sound like the answer to your problems. But in many cases, unscrupulous people are behind these calls. They don’t have any intention of helping you, but are very interested in taking your money. How can you tell if you’re dealing with a debt relief scammer? Because they ask you to pay them before they do anything for you.

That’s what the FTC and the Florida Attorney General said happened in a massive debt relief scam they were able to stop last month. The defendants told people they would pay, settle, or get rid of their debts. But they didn’t.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

New avoid telemarketing scams fotonovela

Three years ago, the FTC created its first fotonovela – a graphic novel to help Spanish-speakers spot and stop frauds targeting Latino communities. To date, we’ve published seven fotonovelas on topics from notario fraud to government imposters. They’ve been very popular – almost a million copies have flown off our shelves – and today we are announcing our newest fotonovela, La familia Rivera evita las estafas de telemercadeo (The Rivera Family Avoids a Telemarketing Scam).

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

NetSpend refunds coming

Do you know somebody who had a NetSpend debit card but had trouble activating it? If so, this blog post is for you. NetSpend Corporation is providing refunds to settle FTC charges that people couldn’t get access to the money they’d put into their NetSpend account.

 

Tips for buying a hearing aid

If you think you’re losing your hearing, consider seeing a doctor or other health professional who specializes in hearing loss. If a hearing aid is right for you, it’s a good idea to do some research. A hearing aid can be expensive. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

The dish on Dish

Score one for people on the Do Not Call list. Earlier this week, the Court imposed a record-setting $280 million civil penalty against Dish for calls to people on the Do Not Call list, abandoned calls, calls to people who had told Dish they did not want to receive calls, and for assisting and facilitating telemarketers who engaged in practices in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

An identity thief stole my phone!

Identity theft can happen to anyone. I’m a fraud investigator, and I’d like to tell you about my identity theft. Knowing how to respond will help you if you ever have to recover your identity.

Talking about and reporting scams [fotonovela]

Our new fotonovela, Talking about Scams, tells the story of Eva and her husband, Pablo, who learn how talking about a scam can help someone avoid falling for a scam.

Settling your debts

You might have seen ads for companies that say they can reduce your debt – sometimes for cents on the dollar. All you have to do is pay them. But these offers are not always what they seem.

Join the #Milchat about travel scams

On June 8, @MilConsumer and @StopFraudCo (the Stop Fraud campaign of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office) will host a chat to discuss avoiding travel and vacation scams.

“Binary options” put buyers in a bind

Over the years, lots of rip-offs have been built around exotic “investment” strategies that were pitched as simple. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission  and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ssued warnings about investment scams using “binary options” as a hook.

Not familiar with binary options? Then you’re probably better off keeping your money in your pocket. In fact, you can stop reading now, unless you’re fascinated by financial products with poor performance records and a tendency to attract scammers.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money