October 2018

Spear phishing scammers want more from you

“I’m calling from [pick any bank]. Someone’s been using your debit card ending in 2345 at [pick any retailer]. I’ll need to verify your Social Security number — which ends in 8190, right? — and full debit card information so we can stop this unauthorized activity...”

 

Don’t get swamped buying a flood-damaged car

In the wake of the recent hurricanes, used car buyers should use caution: Storm-damaged vehicles are sometimes cleaned up and taken out of state for sale. You might not know a vehicle is damaged until you take a closer look or have a mechanic check it out.

Here’s what to do:

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Hang up on spoofed SSA calls

If you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice. Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information. Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number – often one that looks legit. Here are few things you should know about these so-called SSA calls.

Rental listing scams after a hurricane

If you, or someone you know, were displaced after Hurricane Florence or Michael, finding a new place to live is a priority. But before you pay any money, be cautious of rental listing scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

Cybersecurity Resources for Non-Profits

Do you work for a charity or other non-profit? If so, you know that your organization collects all sorts of private information, including details about people you serve and financial information related to donors. Your own personal information, too, is probably in your organization’s employee records. Cyber criminals would love to get their hands on that data. You can help protect your organization using the information at FTC.gov/Cybersecurity.

Checking out your AMG check?

We told you last month about the $505 million in checks going back to 1.1 million people who got an online payday loan from a company affiliated with AMG Services. And we’ve heard from many of you that you got your check and cashed it. We’ve just heard, though, that scammers are trying to get into the act, using fake checks that look like the real one.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Smoking out bogus product claims

Quitting smoking and losing weight can be enormously challenging. In the quest to kick the habit or drop the pounds, you might be tempted by products promising miraculous results. But take a breath before you buy or try. Those ads could be exaggerations or outright lies that wind up costing you big.

College test prep scams are happening

Recently, we heard about scams targeting parents of high school students preparing for college. The scammers claim to be from The College Board – the organization responsible for the PSAT and SAT tests. They call or email you, asking for credit card numbers so they can send PSAT prep materials that the student has supposedly requested. Often the scammers have the student’s name, address and phone number – making them seem more believable. Except your student didn’t ask for materials, and it’s not this group calling.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scams against older adults: reporting to Congress

You might have read media stories about older people losing lots of money to scams. It does happen – and FTC data show that when people over 80 report losing money, the amount they lose is a lot higher than the amount younger people lose. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, FTC data also show that people 60 and older are great at reporting the fraud they see – and can be great at avoiding it, too. Because, according to the FTC’s 2017 data, people 60+ are much more likely to report fraud than people in their 20s – but far less likely to say they lost money.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Cosmetic contact lenses without the Rx: scary!

Halloween is right around the corner. And if you’re looking to top off your costume by wearing cosmetic contact lenses, read on.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Spread the word about charity fraud

This week, the FTC, the National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO), and state charity regulators are joining forces with regulators from across the world to participate in the first International Charity Fraud Awareness Week.

It’s extremely important to raise awareness about charity scams to help ensure that donors’ hard-earned money goes to the worthy causes they seek to support, not to fraudsters. Would you help us spread the word? Here are a few things you can do this week:

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Steering clear of vehicle history report scams

The FTC has been hearing about a new scam targeting people who are selling their cars online. They’re getting calls or texts from people who claim to be interested in buying the car – but first want to see a car history report. They ask the seller to get the report from a specific website, where the seller needs to enter some information and pay about $20 by credit card for the report. The seller then sends it to the supposed buyer but never hears back. Weird, huh? Well, it gets weirder.

FTC takes aim at deceptive stem cell therapy claims

People spend billions of dollars each year on health-related products and treatments that don’t deliver. People who buy them are cheated out of their money, their time, and even their health.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

New materials on cybersecurity for small business

If you own a small business, you know it’s critical to protect your business from cyber threats. Today, the FTC launched new cybersecurity resources for small businesses. What better time to check out these new resources than now – it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and this week’s theme is cybersecurity at work.

The campaign is co-branded with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Scams near you, by the numbers

Every day, people across the country are telling the FTC what happened to them. Maybe they lost money to a scam, lost their identity, or just spotted something that looked fishy and wanted somebody to know. All of that information helps FTC and other law enforcement agencies investigate and bring cases against scammers. And, every year, we roll up all that data and give it back to you in an annual data book. Now, though, you don’t have to wait a year to find out what’s happening.

Scammers demand gift cards

Gift cards are a great way to give a gift. But did you know they are also a scammer’s favorite way to steal money? According to the FTC’s new Data Spotlight, more scammers are demanding payment with a gift card than ever before – a whopping 270 percent increase since 2015.

Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments. If someone calls with urgent news or a convincing story and then pressures you to pay them by buying a gift card, like an iTunes or Google Play card, and then giving them the codes on the back of the card – stop. It’s a scam.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Will background check errors deny you a home?

A background check can determine if you can get credit, a job, or even a place to live. That’s why the law requires businesses that provide these reports have reasonable procedures to ensure the information they collect and share about you is accurate.

Immigration help – watch your step

If you’re looking for immigration help, you might run across what look like government websites – but are actually from companies pretending to be part of the U.S. government. The FTC’s recent settlement  has some lessons on how to protect yourself.  

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Charity scams follow hurricane’s wake

As Hurricane Michael barrels its way toward Florida's Gulf Coast, scammers continue to con people who want to help those affected by past hurricanes. Case in point: The FTC and its state and local partners are getting reports about sham charities following Hurricane Florence’s devastating impact on North and South Carolina.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC sues car dealerships for fake recall notices

A recall notice for your car or truck signals a serious safety defect that you should try to get fixed quickly. According to an FTC lawsuit, a group of auto dealerships counted on people doing just that when they sent fake mailers marked “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” to more than 21,000 vehicle owners, most of whom did not have recalls.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

It’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is spooky enough with its ghouls and goblins. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is here to remind us how to stay safe and secure from real (and maybe even scarier) threats – malware and scammers.

New Credit Law FAQs

You’ve heard about the new law that makes credit freezes free and fraud alerts last one year. If you have questions, you’re not alone. Here are answers to some of the questions we’re hearing most.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Anti-scammy Sammy

There’s former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar, NFL legend Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, and the incomparable Sammy Davis, Jr. All notable in their own right, but did they win back $586 million for defrauded consumers? We didn’t think so. That’s why we have another pick for the Sammy Hall of Fame.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Facebook breach: what to do next

Facebook recently announced the largest breach in the company’s history. The breach affected about 50 million users, allowing hackers to take over their accounts. If you use Facebook, you may be wondering what to do next. Here are a few steps you can take.