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June 2020

Fake emails about fake money from a fake COVID-19 fund

Because of COVID-19, unemployment rates are high and many people’s cash flows are low. Scammers view these as ripe conditions to strike. They’ll stop at nothing — not even a pandemic — to trick you into sharing your personal or financial information. That includes pretending to be a government official from the Federal Trade Commission to gain your trust.

COVID mask exemption cards are not from the government

To help limit the spread of the Coronavirus, many states are requiring people to wear face coverings in places open to the public. But there are cards circulating online and on social media that say the holder has a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, and that it’s illegal for any business to ask them to disclose their condition. Variations of the card include the seal of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), one of the federal agencies responsible for enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fact is, these cards aren’t issued or endorsed by DOJ, or any other federal agency.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Shopping online? Watch this video first

In this age of social distancing, more and more of our favorite stores now offer ways to score great deals online. Even as shops around the country open their doors again, buying online is still a great, useful tool for people to enjoy. It’s nice to know that with a simple web search, you can find, buy, and ship almost any item right to your front door. But, while you’re enjoying that convenience, you want to be sure that sharing your financial and personal data online is safe.

Cryptocurrency blackmail scam alert

The email suddenly appears in your inbox. Someone is writing to say that they have access to your cell phone or your computer. And they’re about to make your sensitive videos, pictures, or compromising information public. Pay them money (a ransom), they say, using a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, and they won’t expose the truth.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Health product claims and false guarantees

If you’re looking for help with chronic pain, you might come across over-the-counter devices promising powerful, drug-free relief. But sometimes device marketers make claims that are not backed by scientific evidence.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Help COVID-19 contact tracers, not scammers

After nearly three months of stay-at-home orders, America is starting to open up again. Contact tracers, the folks who work for state health departments to try to track anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, are an important part of our road to recovery. But some scammers are pretending to be contact tracers so they can profit off of the current confusion. They’re trying to steal your identity, your money – or both. Luckily, there are ways to tell the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer.

FTC, SBA warn companies about SBA loan promises

The latest recipients of government warning letters are six companies that said they could speed U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letters – from the FTC and the SBA – direct the companies to remove all false claims from their websites immediately.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The IRS won’t call about your stimulus money

Most people have already gotten their economic stimulus payments, but the Internal Revenue Service is still sending them out. If you haven’t gotten yours yet or have questions about it, the IRS has a number you can call to get answers to common questions. But the IRS won’t be calling you.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Contact Lens Rule updates: What they mean for you

Do you wear contacts? If so, read on. You have the right to get your contact lens prescription from your eye care prescriber — whether you ask for it or not — at no extra charge. The Contact Lens Rule, which the FTC enforces, says so. That lets you take your prescription wherever you want — online or to the mall — to shop around and look for the best deal.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Getting stimulus checks from car dealerships? Nope.

During these difficult economic times, scammers will do almost anything to try to get your money. Including, it turns out, making bogus claims about economic stimulus checks to lure customers to auto sales events.

Robocall reports still down, FTC still fighting

A couple months ago, we told you the good news that people had been reporting getting fewer robocalls, and we told you about how some of the FTC’s work might have played a part in that. We have more good news — the number of reported robocalls for April and May were even lower. Maybe you’ve noticed.

What do COVID-19 scams look like in your state?

We’ve been telling you about the scams related to COVID-19. But now we can tell you even more about the scams happening in your neck of the woods. Just today, the FTC released state-specific data on COVID-19-related issues, which you can check out with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Fraudulent funders = big woes for small businesses

At some point in running your small business or organization, you may need financing to grow or keep things running. That’s a need very much on business owners’ minds right now. But, as you explore financing options, be mindful: Some financing companies lie about their terms, break the law, use terrible debt collection practices, and leave businesses in worse financial conditions than before.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Dealing with a deceased relative’s debt

Especially during this time of crisis, dealing with the death of a loved one is hard. Dealing with a debt collector calling about their debts can make it even harder. If you’re in this situation and a debt collector calls, it’s important to know who is responsible for those debts, and what a debt collector can — and cannot — do to collect payment.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Kohl’s must give records to identity theft victims

Imagine a thief used your information to buy things at Kohl’s – or used your Kohl’s credit card to go on a shopping spree. You’d want to get the records to prove it and clear up your good name. The law says you’re entitled to do exactly that. That’s what the FTC’s latest settlement with Kohl’s is about.

More Lights of America LED customers may qualify for a refund

If you bought Lights of America brand LED light bulbs before 2011, you may be eligible for a refund.

Planning a funeral? Know your rights

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have taken on new roles in our families and communities. If someone asked you to help plan a funeral, would you know where to start? The FTC’s information about funeral goods and services and your rights can help.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How to transfer money from your EIP debit card to your bank account

Recently, we wrote about the Economic Impact Payment debit cards some of you are getting. But we’ve heard that some people have had trouble getting money off the card and into your bank account, without visiting an ATM. Treasury heard you, too, so here are some clarified steps for how to do that.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Donating in difficult times

These days, there are just so many reasons why people want to do to something to help, to make a difference, to take action. In addition to volunteering or putting their feet to the pavement, lots of people are putting their hands in their wallets to try to make an impact. Once again, though, scammers will be there. As ever, they follow the headlines and pop up wherever there’s money to be made. So, before you make a donation to support any cause, here are a few things to think about and do:

FTC letters target more unproven MLM health and earnings claims

Worried about getting sick with COVID-19 or making ends meet because of a pandemic-related job loss? You may see social media posts offering an answer. Some posts advertise products that they say can prevent or treat COVID-19. Others offer the chance to join a multi-level marketing company (MLM) and make lots of money selling the products to people you know. But, before declaring your worries are over, read on to learn about the problems with these pitches.

More FTC warnings about scam Coronavirus treatments

The FTC continues to seek out and warn sellers who peddle so-called Coronavirus treatments with no proof they work. If you see an ad that says a product can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19, stop. Think to yourself: if there’s actually been a medical breakthrough, am I really going to hear about it for the first time from an ad or sales pitch? The answer is clearly “no.” So train yourself to ignore those types of false ads.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Are the apps your children use illegally marketing to them?

Kids love to play video games — in apps, on mobile devices and online with friends. And when kids play games, it is unlawful to collect their personal information without parental consent. 

Is a scammer getting unemployment benefits in your name?

In a large-scale scam erupting in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, imposters are filing claims for unemployment benefits, using the names and personal information of people who have not filed claims. People learn about the fraud when they get a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for benefits.

Hurricane season 2020 and COVID-19

June 1 is the official start of hurricane season, and now is a great time to make a plan to deal with weather emergencies. Especially because this year, we have the added concern of the COVID-19 pandemic, including what you need know if you have to go to a shelter. (Hint: it involves packing hand sanitizer and masks.)

If you bought ReJuvenation, you can get a refund

A few months ago, we wrote about a settlement with the makers of ReJuvenation, the so-called anti-aging wonder pill. If you bought this product, we have some good news: you can get a refund. The FTC is mailing more than 1,300 checks to people we know bought the product. People on that list will get a full refund of the money they spent on ReJuvenation, averaging $113 each.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

How to avoid COVID-19 government imposter scams

Many of us are paying close attention to the guidance from federal, state, and local governments during this COVID-19 health emergency. Unfortunately, scammers are also paying attention. Some are even pretending to be affiliated with the government – just to scam you out of money.