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August 2020

What to do when you (and your kids) are online at home

If you have kids in school, there’s a good chance they’re kicking off their school year…in your living room. All the while, you might be working away, yourself, in some carved out corner at home.

Those free COVID-19 money offers on WhatsApp and Facebook are scams

Have you seen a message on WhatsApp or Facebook offering you free help during the pandemic? People have reported seeing messages that seem to be from Pepsi, Walmart, Whole Foods, Target, and other big-name brands. These messages all offer money to people who need it — through grants, coupons for food support, or other giveaways. But they’re all fake, and not from those companies at all.

Hang up on fake “refund calls”

In 2019, the FTC reached a settlement with Elite IT and its owner, who tricked people into buying expensive computer repair services. Recently, scammers posing as Elite IT agents have been making calls, saying they will give refunds related to the case. That's a scam.

Paying the high cost of payday loans

Being broke is expensive. Right now, so many people are scrambling to figure out how to make rent, cover utilities, pick up some work, get their unemployment checks, and keep body and soul together. When it’s getting down to the end of the month, if people have exhausted personal loans through their bank or credit union, they may be putting more on their credit card, or getting a cash advance. And then they might turn to payday loans.

Tips to help you avoid post-disaster scams

Whether you’re getting ready to deal with Laura or Marco, the storms about to hit the Gulf Coast, dealing with the ravages of wildfires out West, reeling from the derecho that struck the Midwest, or facing another natural disaster, handling the aftermath is never easy. But when scammers target people just trying to recover, it can be even worse. Here are some tips to help you avoid common post-disaster scams.

COVID-19 report data “on the daily”

Every day, the FTC is collecting data, watching the numbers, and spotting the trends. We’re also spreading the word about COVID-19-related scams. Because, the more you know about what’s happening, the easier it will be to protect yourself and others from these scams.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

2020 Census: Visiting homes and sending emails

The Federal Trade Commission is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help you guard against potential census scams. Knowing how the 2020 Census process works, what information you will — and won’t — be asked for, and some red flags will help you spot and report scams.

Driving for extra cash? Check your car insurance first.

With more people seeking delivery services during the Coronavirus pandemic, many companies are looking for drivers to shuttle meals, medicine, groceries, and other items to people at home. Before you think about making some extra cash as a delivery driver using your own vehicle, you need to be aware of the insurance pitfalls.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

FTC: Sellers need proof for COVID treatment claims

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from sellers of scam COVID-19 treatments, the FTC has sent 20 more warning letters to companies that claim their products can prevent, treat or cure the COVID-19. Claims for zappers, virus-busting cards, sage, oregano, and bay leaves are among the representations called into question in the latest round of warning letters.

IRS sending $500 to people mistakenly denied money for dependent children

If you used the IRS’s non-filers tool before May 17 and claimed at least one qualifying child, the IRS mistakenly failed to send you $500 per qualifying child. To correct this, the IRS is sending money to those people who were affected.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

“You’ve won! Now pay us” is always a scam.

During these difficult economic times, it is easy to imagine our financial problems disappearing by winning a big prize. Who wouldn’t like to win a million dollars, a new car, or a vacation home? But if you get a call from someone saying, “You’ve won,” don’t believe the hype.

Scams in between stimulus packages

As we publish this post, a second stimulus package has not yet been finalized by Congress. While there’s a lot we don’t know, we DO know a few things about what scammers do when this kind of uncertainty is in the headlines.

A real or fake savings club?

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. It’s also the greatest form of “scammery.” That’s why scammers are imitating a type of informal savings club known as a “sou sou” or “susu” to trick people into joining what amounts to an illegal pyramid scheme.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

1, 2, 3 videos to help you stop unwanted calls

It can be frustrating to deal with a bunch of unwanted calls. If you answer them, you might hear a recorded message of someone trying to sell you something. Or it could be a real person hoping to scare you into paying a debt you don't owe.These kinds of unwanted calls are often scams. Taking steps to stop them can help save you time and unnecessary stress — and maybe some money, too.

Getting unordered seeds and stuff in the mail?

Those mysterious seeds from China have been in the headlines, but we’re also hearing about other stuff that people are getting that looks connected to the seed mystery. There could be a few things going on, so let’s start unraveling the Great Unwanted Goods Mystery of 2020.

Scammy PPE sellers exploit COVID-19 fears

Last month, the FTC filed its first case against an online seller that failed to ship next-day personal protective equipment (PPE) as promised. Today, we have an update: the FTC is filing three more cases as part of a continuing effort to address “online shopping” fraud that seeks to exploit high demand for PPE and other COVID-related products.

Scammers and “customer service” — another imposter scam

If you want to contact a company’s customer service department, you can do a quick search online and often find what looks like its phone number or email. But is the information at the top of your search results actually correct?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Going shopping? Don’t get shortchanged

Remember when stores ran out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks? Well, now COVID-19 is cause for a new shortage: coins. Because of business shutdowns and social distancing, people have been spending cash at stores or restaurants at record low levels. Adding to the shortage, the U.S. Mint has slowed down coin production for a few months to keep employees safe from COVID-19. Now, some businesses are running low on coins and not offering change.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Empowering military consumers – all year long

Now that Military Consumer Month has come to a close, it’s time to think about how we can support servicemembers all year long. Seven years ago, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched Military Consumer Protection Day to highlight fraud affecting servicemembers. Since then, the observance has grown into a national, year-round campaign. Militaryconsumer.gov provides servicemembers and their families with resources from partner agencies like Department of Defense (DoD), the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to boost their financial readiness.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Video shows how scammers tell you to pay

Scammers make up all kinds of stories to get your money, from telling you that you’ve won a prize, you owe a debt, or your family member is in an emergency. But some things stay the same: scammers want your money, they want it fast, and don’t want you to be able to get it back. They’ll ask you to pay in ways that make it hard to track them down — and once you know what these are, you’ll have one more clue to tell if you’re dealing with a scammer.

Small businesses targeted with unauthorized withdrawals

The last thing struggling small business owners need right now is to have money unlawfully taken from their pockets. According to a complaint filed today by the FTC, that’s exactly what a company that offered financing to small business did to its customers.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money