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April 2020

Scammers offer facemasks but don’t deliver

Since the beginning of March, dozens of people, including healthcare workers, have told the FTC they paid online stores for facemasks and toilet paper but didn’t get anything.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Not every COVID-19 testing site is legit

You probably know that COVID-19 tests are in short supply. But did you know there’s no shortage of scammers setting up fake COVID-19 testing sites to cash in on the crisis?

Scam emails demand Bitcoin, threaten blackmail

Reports of Bitcoin blackmail scams have taken a big jump in the last few weeks. The emails say they hacked into your computer and recorded you visiting adult websites.

Economic Impact Payments: May 5 deadline for some SSI and VA beneficiaries with kids

Are you an SSI or VA beneficiary? If you didn’t file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and have dependent children, you must register with the IRS by noon Eastern Time on May 5 to get an additional $500 economic impact payment for dependents — or else you’ll have to wait until you file your 2020 tax return to get the money.

New funding for Coronavirus SBA loans attracts scammers

If you’re a business owner, you may be planning to apply for a loan through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. These programs recently got hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding. But, while you’re focused on getting a loan, scammers may be focused on you: hoping to trick you into giving them sensitive business information, like your bank account numbers, employees’ Social Security numbers, and even your money. Here are some “dos” and “don’ts” to help you stay clear of scammers as you apply for a small business loan.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

CBD, COVID-19 and cancer: The unfounded facts

The COVID-19 pandemic creates the perfect storm of hopes and fears that dishonest business try to exploit with fake promises of protection and healing. But when these promises are not backed by science, the consequences can often cost you money and your good health.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Don’t click links in unsolicited text messages

You might be seeing text messages promising money – maybe the economic impact payments, loans for small businesses, or an offer for money you can get. In fact, I recently saw a WhatsApp text message in Spanish that advertised money for people quarantined at home. If you’ve spotted messages like this, I hope you’ve also deleted them. These text messages going around could lead you to a scam or a hacker, but not to anything helpful.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

FTC sends COVID-related warnings to MLM companies

A business opportunity that promises you can work from home, earn lots of money, and enjoy a lavish lifestyle? Sounds tempting, particularly now, when so many people are out of work because of the Coronavirus pandemic. But letters the FTC sent today to ten multi-level marketing (MLM) companies are a reminder to research an MLM business before investing your money and your time.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Economic impact payments for U.S. citizens abroad

Are you a United States citizen living abroad? For millions of expatriates, help from home is on the way in the form of COVID-19 economic impact payments. Unfortunately, scammers also are on the way, and they’re eager to pluck the payment from your pocket.

The FTC’s Highlights of 2019

We’re all facing unprecedented challenges now – and the FTC has been hard at work on the trail of many Coronavirus-related scams that are harming consumers. But the rest of the Commission’s work continues apace. For instance, last year the Commission returned more than $232 million in refunds to consumers across the country. Today, we’re taking a minute to take stock of some of the highlights from 2019.

What you should know about payday loans and car title loans

If the Coronavirus pandemic is causing you financial stress, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have lost all or part of their income because they can’t work. Economic impact payments from the government might help, but some people may look for other ways to borrow money for a short period of time. They may consider options like a payday loan or a car title loan, which can be very expensive. Here’s what you need to know.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Dealing with debt collectors during the pandemic

Job losses have traveled hand-in-hand with the Coronavirus. If you’re having trouble paying your bills, you’re not alone. Here are a few things to keep in mind if a debt collector calls.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC: Fashion Nova failed to deliver the goods

In normal times, there’s nothing like finding the perfect outfit for a special event. But if you’re like some Fashion Nova customers, excitement turned to disappointment when your merchandise shipped late with no option to cancel, or you got a store credit instead of the items you ordered.

If you get SSA or RRB and have kids: file before noon on April 22

Are you an SSA or RRB beneficiary with dependent children? Then, you have only until tomorrow at noon to file to get the additional $500 economic stimulus payment for dependents – or else you must wait until you file your 2020 tax return to get the money.

Managing your bills during COVID-19

COVID-19 has thrown the economy into a tailspin. Many people have been laid off, furloughed, or are working fewer hours. And as wages dry up, bills can pile up.

Debt can be tricky – especially when you have more month than money. Here are some ideas about how you can manage your debts and start regaining your financial footing.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How much for that sofa? Read the fine print.

If you need furniture or appliances but don’t have the cash to buy them outright, you might be thinking about other payment options. If you do, pay attention to terms written in fine print that might have you paying much more than you thought.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Coronavirus stimulus payment scams: What you need to know

We know there’s been a flood of information and updates about the government’s economic impact payments, or so-called stimulus checks, lately. But quickly and safely moving massive amounts of money into the hands of those who need it is a big job with a lot of moving parts. We also know that the more you know about the process, the less likely you’re going to be tripped up by calls, text messages, or emails from scammers trying to steal your money or personal information. Here’s what you need to know about the stimulus payments and how to avoid scams related to these payments.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Alert for small business owners needing PPP loans

This is an alert for small business owners who are looking to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”). The loans help alleviate the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but there are bad actors trying to get business owners to apply for the wrong program. Today, the FTC announced that it filed a case against a company that allegedly claimed to offer PPP loans — but, in reality, the company is not affiliated with the SBA and, the FTC says, it has been deceiving hundreds, if not thousands, of business owners.

Stay safe while video conferencing

Have you been video conferencing in these days of social distancing? It’s pretty cool to see several people at once on the screen and be able to have a conversation as if everyone was in the same room. But we don’t want strangers in our meetings — and we’d all probably rather keep our information to ourselves. So let’s review some basic safety tips:

Isoprex misleads seniors

“Isoprex Slashes Pain in 5 Days – Naturally!” “Walking without a Cane!” “Clinically Proven!” “Relieves painful swelling in 100% of even the worst cases.” These claims are false or misleading, according to the FTC’s complaint against Isoprex’s distributor, Renaissance Health Publishing, Inc.

Behind on car payments because of the Coronavirus?

Are you worried that you won’t be able to make your next car payment because you’ve lost your job or income because of the Coronavirus? Or are you already behind on your payments? You’re not alone. Here’s what you can do.

COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers

If you’re a regular reader of this blog — or of the news, you know that scammers are out in force, taking advantage of all aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve spotted plenty of bogus cures and treatments, but many of you have told the FTC about straight-up scams, like texts/emails/calls from a “government agency” promising to get your relief money for you. Others have told us about things that could be scams (or could be businesses catching up with the new reality) — like websites that promise scarce cleaning products or masks (that never arrive), or problems related to getting money back for cancelled travel plans.

Coronavirus and your mortgage

Because of the Coronavirus, many people are facing financial challenges, especially paying their mortgage. If you’re unable to make your mortgage payments, you could lose your home to foreclosure. Federal lenders and some private lenders are offering borrowers temporary help, like stopping or delaying foreclosure or modifying the mortgage. But these measures don’t apply to everyone. If you need help, research the options available to you for getting through these tough times. These tips can help:

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

FTC sends more warnings to sellers of scam Coronavirus treatments

Last month, the FTC and FDA sent warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. Today, the FTC sent warning letters to 10 more companies.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Looking for work after Coronavirus layoffs?

Have you been laid off due to the Coronavirus? Or maybe your small business shut down? Today, the FTC kicks off a series of blogs with tips about handling the financial impact of the Coronavirus. These days, many people start by looking for ways to make money working from home. If you’re eyeing a work-at-home gig, here are some things to keep in mind.

Scammers are using COVID-19 messages to scam people

Scammers are experts at shifting tactics and changing their messages to catch you off guard. This is especially true as they take advantage of anxieties related to the Coronavirus. Here’s a quick alert about some current government imposter scams using COVID-19 that are popping up on our radar.

Hang up on tech support calls

It can be frustrating to have problems with your computer, especially now that so many people are working from home. But if you get a call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft technician, saying there are viruses on your system, hang up the phone. It’s a scam.

Remote learning and children’s privacy

“Social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “virtual happy hour” – these are some of the new expressions on everyone’s lips the past few weeks. For many kids, parents, and teachers, add “remote learning” or “distance learning” to the list. Because of Coronavirus-related school closures, millions of students are now learning from home. For parents who are concerned about the privacy and security of their children’s personal data while they’re learning online, here are some things to know.

Coronavirus checks: flattening the scam curve

There’s a lot to worry about when it comes to the Coronavirus crisis, including the new ways scammers are using the economic impact payments (so-called “stimulus checks”) to trick people. To keep ahead of scammers who are trying to cash in on those payments, read on.

Avoiding SSA scams during COVID-19

While some of you are home, practicing social distancing and frequent hand washing to avoid the Coronavirus, remember that scammers are still busy trying to take advantage of people. Some scammers are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and trying to get your Social Security number or your money.

Avoid scams while finding help during quarantine

Older adults may be hard hit by the coronavirus – and scammers prey on that. If you or someone you know must stay at home and needs help with errands, you’ll want to know about this latest scam.

The FTC keeps attacking robocalls

Have you noticed lately that you’re getting fewer robocalls? Yes, way too many calls are still coming, and we’re fully engaged on that issue. But we’re seeing some promising developments. Some recent FTC actions might just have something to do with that. Let’s review. In December 2019, the FTC filed suit against VoIP service provider Globex Telecom for helping scammers run a “reduce your credit card interest rate” con. In January, the FTC sent letters to 19 VoIP providers, warning them that consumer protection laws apply to them, too, and pointing out what could happen if they kept helping scammy telemarketers break the law. Then, just last week, the agency sent nine warning letters to VoIP providers that were helping Coronavirus scammers blast out robocalls during the current health crisis. The VoIP providers that straightened up accounted for billions of calls that we’re all now not getting.

Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus

“Grandma: I’m in the hospital, sick, please wire money right away.” “Grandpa: I’m stuck overseas, please send money.” Grandparent scams can take a new twist – and a new sense of urgency – in these days of Coronavirus. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Small businesses: Where to go for financial relief information

If you own a small business or work for one, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small businesses to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. And that source, of course, is the Small Business Administration’s dedicated page, sba.gov/coronavirus.

While you’re at home, spot the scams

Many of us are at home, trying to protect our communities from the Coronavirus. (Thanks to those who are still working outside the home. Be safe.) If you have a minute to spare, it could be a good time for a refresher on spotting some common scams. Especially now that you might be home to get all those robocalls – and especially since the scammers are doubling down on ways to scam you. With that in mind, this is the first in a series of blog posts to help you spot some common scams.

Want to get your Coronavirus relief check? Scammers do too.

You’ve probably heard the news by now – the government is sending out relief checks as part of the federal response to the Coronavirus. Scammers heard the same thing, and they’re hoping to cash in on yours.

Williams-Sonoma: Made in the USA?

When we’re deciding between buying two products, if one product says, “Made in the USA,” does that influence how we make our decision? For many people, it does, and we all have a reasonable expectation that the claim is truthful.