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May 2020

What to know about the Economic Impact Payment debit cards

If you’re still waiting for your Economic Impact Payments, you might be getting a debit card instead of a check in the mail. This, of course, is the money that’s meant to give relief due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You may have already gotten your payment by direct deposit or by check. But if you’re still waiting, watch your mailbox for either a check or a VISA debit card. And know that the government will never, ever call, text, email, or ask you to click on a link they sent to activate your card or get your money.

NYC car dealer accused of discriminatory lending

The law is clear: it’s illegal for someone who lends money to charge people higher interest rates and fees based on their race. According to an FTC case announced today, a car dealer in the Bronx did it anyway.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

COVID-19 scams targeting college students

Hey college students: even though you’re likely far from campus, scammers are still trying to find you.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Paying, and paying, and paying payday loans

If you don’t have the cash or credit to cover a financial emergency, you might be thinking about getting a payday loan. But some payday lenders are not honest about how they collect on those loans and take more payments than they said they would.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

This “game” is a chain letter scam

Are you tempted to play “The Circle Game,” join a “Blessing Loom,” or jump on a “Money Board”? These are some of the names for an online scam that’s making the rounds at a time when millions of people are out of work and scraping for cash. It promises a big return for a modest investment. Don’t fall for it. You’re virtually guaranteed to lose your money, or pull in friends and family who will lose theirs.

Military Data Spotlight: Identity theft and servicemembers

Every year, thousands of servicemembers report to us about their consumer experiences. Those reports are the focus of the FTC’s Data Spotlight, Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops. From an analysis of the data, we can see that servicemembers often face consumer challenges that differ from those faced by their civilian counterparts – especially when it comes to identity theft. For instance, active duty servicemembers are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused one of their existing accounts, such as a bank account or credit card. Most notably, they are nearly three times as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money directly from their bank account. The Spotlight goes on to discuss other associated issues that servicemembers face, including identity theft-related debt collection and problems with credit bureaus.

Finding a furry friend in the era of COVID-19

If you’ve been thinking about adding a pet to your family, now may be a good time. In addition to pets offering unconditional love, companionship, and amusement, studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets has health benefits. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

COVID-19 contact tracing text message scams

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about contact tracing. It’s the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine and monitoring their symptoms daily. There’s no question, contact tracing plays a vital role in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. But scammers, pretending to be contact tracers and taking advantage of how the process works, are also sending text messages.

Credit reports are now free, every week

If you’re feeling anxious about your financial health during these uncertain times, you’re not alone. That’s why the three national credit reporting agencies are giving people weekly access to monitor their credit report — for free.

Did a nursing home or assisted living facility take your stimulus check?

Do you or a loved one live in a nursing home or assisted living facility? Are you (or they) on Medicaid? If you said “yes” to both, please read on and prepare to get mad. We’ve been hearing that some facilities are trying to take the stimulus payments intended for their residents on Medicaid. Then they’re requiring those people to sign over those funds to the facility. Why? Well, they’re claiming that, because the person is on Medicaid, the facility gets to keep the stimulus payment.

Econsumer.gov: International scam fighter

No; this isn’t an action movie. But new enhancements to econsumer.gov — and a new interactive international dashboard for Consumer Sentinel reports — give the FTC, other government agencies, and people across the globe scam-fighting powers that rival those of an action hero. Econsumer.gov is a site created in 2001 by members of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), to gather and share consumer complaints about international scams. The FTC leads the econsumer.gov project.

“No risk” publications shouldn’t cost money

Some dishonest companies lie when they say that a product is “no risk.” That’s what the FTC says Progressive Business Publications, a business publication company, did. They had telemarketers call businesses, schools, nonprofits, and other organizations to offer samples of their newsletters and books at “no risk.” But they didn’t make clear that, by accepting the samples, your organization got enrolled in an expensive annual subscription.

Fighting Coronavirus scams: taking stock

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the FTC has released dozens of warning letters against people trying to make an illegal buck off the Coronavirus. More than a month in, it seems like a good time to look back at what’s happened. If you follow this blog, you’ll know these have been busy weeks – with advice about spotting the many scams we’re all facing, news of the warning letters sent on a wide range of scams, and some enforcement actions filed.

FTC warns 45 more sellers of scam Coronavirus treatments

Every day we are reading about researchers studying potential ways to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. However, at this time there certainly are no products you can buy online, or services you can get at a neighborhood clinic, that are proven to work. But that doesn’t stop some sellers from pitching products that claim to protect or heal you.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Make your Coronavirus donations count

The Coronavirus crisis has brought out the best and worst of human nature. The best: charities across the country are stepping up and many people are donating what they can. The worst: opportunistic scammers are using fake appeals or sham charities to swindle donations from good-hearted people. No one wants their Coronavirus donation to go to a scammer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Did an ID thief steal your stimulus payment? Report it to us.

Do you think your economic impact payment has landed in the hands of an identity thief? You can report it to the FTC and the IRS at the same time. Here’s what to do.

Coronavirus and your student loan debt

If you have student loan debt, you’ve probably heard that the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act gives some flexibility to federal student loan borrowers. Understanding these options can help you make more informed decisions about paying your bills and prioritizing your debts. The program is open from March 13th through September 30, 2020.

COVID-19 ruined my travel plans. Now what?

If COVID-19 canceled your travel plans, you are likely disappointed and wondering about refunds, credits, or vouchers for plane tickets, cruise bookings, tours, and more. Even if your scheduled travel is months away, you might be weighing your options. And many travel service providers seem to be working to address concerns about upcoming trips.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit