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September 2020

What to do when someone steals your identity

Did someone use your personal information to open up a new mobile account or credit card? Or maybe buy stuff with one of your existing accounts? Or did they file for unemployment or taxes in your name? That’s identity theft.

Empowering the Latino community to avoid and report scams

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month gives us a chance to reflect on the great contributions Latinos have made to society. To keep those contributions coming, it’s important to continue to do everything possible to protect Latinos from fraud. So let us take this opportunity to tell you about the resources we have for you — and tell you how to get them for free.

Non-filers: Expect a letter about your stimulus check

If you don’t usually file a tax return, or didn’t file a return for 2018 or 2019, you might not know you could qualify for an economic impact payment. You might be one of the nine million people getting a letter from the IRS letting you know how to register on their website to claim your payment by October 15, 2020.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

$147 million in second group of Western Union refunds

Refund checks worth about $147 million are going out to almost 33,000 people who sent money to scammers through Western Union wire transfers. This is the second group of payments related to the Western Union settlement. These refunds are going to people in the US and other countries, including many older adults who lost money to grandparent, lottery, sweepstakes, or romance scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Free trials can be costly

Getting free stuff is cool…until it isn’t free. It is decidedly uncool when, after luring you in with “free trials” for products you might like, a company hits you with surprise charges during the supposedly “free” trial period.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Heard about the “waiting package” phishing scam?

Phishing scams can be hard to spot. For example, we’ve been hearing about one where people get a text message saying that there’s a package waiting for them, and asking them to click a link to learn more. Sounds innocent enough, right? Unfortunately not.

Tips to help you prepare for — and recover from — natural disasters

More than 85 large wildfires are ripping across the West Coast, from California to Oregon and Washington. In the Southeast, people are just beginning to recover from Hurricane Sally, while more storms are brewing in the Atlantic. And the Midwest continues to recover from the recent derecho. Severe weather and natural disasters can occur anywhere — sometimes with little warning. The FTC’s site, Dealing with Weather Emergencies, has practical tips to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from a weather emergency. It’s mobile-friendly, so easy to get to when and where you need it.

Fake check scams and your small business

If someone you don’t know sends you a check and asks for money back, that’s a scam. But what if you’re a small business owner and someone “overpays” you and asks you to refund the balance? That’s still a scam — a fake check scam, to be exact.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scammers prey on your kindness during disasters

Wildfires raging out West. The hurricane season. Civil unrest. And all of this happening during a global pandemic that has claimed its own devastating share of deaths and cost people their livelihoods. In response to these events, the season of giving is starting even before the usual holidays, since we all just want to help where and as we can.

But shameless scammers want to help themselves to your money. And they’re competing with legitimate charities, taking advantage of your generosity. So, as you open your heart and wallet to help people and causes, be sure to consider these tips for safe giving:

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Spot and stop dishonest charity fundraisers

What’s worse than a bogus charity? A bogus charity with a dishonest fundraiser. That’s what we saw today in a case announced today against Outreach Calling, Inc., its founder Mark Gelvan, and others.
The defendants in this FTC case are fundraisers that called millions of Americans on behalf of bogus charities.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Getting stimulus payments to homeless communities

People who are homeless or transient may not know they qualify for the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) — also called “stimulus checks" — that went out last Spring. They might also get an additional $500 for each qualifying child — and they don’t need an income to claim the payment. That’s why the FTC is working with the IRS to get the word out about how people can still collect their money — and we need your help.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Are you eligible for debt forgiveness from Online Trading Academy?

Back in February, we wrote about Online Trading Academy (OTA), a company that peddled a “patented” training program promising to help people earn big money by paying big money to OTA for trainings costing as much as $50,000. OTA’s lavish earnings claims often came with encouragement for people to go into debt to pay for OTA’s trainings. Today, we’re letting you know about a settlement that could mean big bucks in debt forgiveness for some people who owe consumer debts to OTA.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

If you have federal student loans, read this

A few months ago, we told you that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act gave 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. These benefits have been extended until December 31, 2020.

Did someone tell you to pay with gift cards? It’s a scam

Maybe someone said you’ve won the lottery, a prize or sweepstakes. Or they claim to be from the government and tell you there’s a problem with your Social Security number. And, to collect your winnings or solve your problem, you have to pay with gift cards. But here’s the thing: anyone who insists that you pay by gift card is always a scammer.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How can you spot a tech support scam?

Are you getting pop-up warning messages on your computer screen? Or maybe a phone call that your computer has a virus? That may well be a tech support scam. But how do you know? And what do you do?

Economic impact payment fix for 50,000 eligible spouses

Are you married to someone who owes past-due child support? Was your portion of the economic impact payment (“EIP”) mistakenly applied to pay your spouse’s debt? If so, you’re not alone. In mid-September, the IRS will automatically send “catch-up” payments to eligible spouses whose EIP was diverted to pay their spouses’ child support obligations.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Trouble with your ABCmouse membership? You’re not alone

Juggling life at home with kids? Like many parents, you might’ve looked into different ways your kids can learn from home online. Maybe you’ve even signed up and paid for a program.

But say over time you find your kids have lost interest in the program or moved on to something else. You think that when your year-long membership is up, you’re done — until you see you’ve been charged for another year, this time without your permission. And when you try to cancel, you find it’s not easy because there are a lot of steps. Sounds frustrating, right? Many parents who enrolled their kids in ABCmouse programs found themselves in a similar situation.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC moves to add real estate celebrities Dean Graziosi and Scott Yancey to Nudge case

Celebrities are often used to market products or services, but sometimes they’re used to lure consumers into a scam. And that’s what the FTC alleges happened when two real estate celebrities joined forces with Nudge – a company (and its owners) that the FTC and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection (“Division”) sued in November of 2019 for deceptively selling training programs and other products to aspiring real estate investors.