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October 2020

COVID-19 clinical trial: real or fake? Learn how to tell the difference.

There are thousands of trials underway as companies race to find effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Many of these research studies are legitimate, but some are not. So, if you’re thinking about volunteering for a COVID-19 trial, it’s important to know how to spot the real trials advancing medicine for everyone, versus the fake ones trying to steal your money and personal information.

Overpaid your utility bill? That’s probably a scam

You get a robocall saying you paid too much on a utility bill. To make up for this mistake, they say, you’ll get a cash refund and a discount on your future bills. All you have to do is press a number to get your money and discount. You say to yourself: “What luck!” You might think this strange surprise will help you save some much-needed money.

Sorry but…not so fast. This is probably just another utility scam — or, at best, a marketing trick — to get your money.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Reporting fraud helps everyone – and now it’s easier to do

You can help the FTC and its partners fight fraud in your community — and you don’t even need to wear a superhero cape (unless you want to). Your story is your superpower. When you tell the FTC about frauds, scams, and other kinds of bad business practices, you’re helping the FTC and our law enforcement partners spot and stop scams. To make it easier, the FTC just launched ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scams that start on social media

Scammers are hiding out on social media, using ads and offers to market their scams, according to people’s reports to the FTC and a new Data Spotlight. In the first six months of 2020, people reported losing a record high of almost $117 million to scams that started on social media.

How to spot, avoid, and report imposter scams

Imposter scams often begin with a call, text message, or email. The scams may vary, but work the same way – a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money or share personal information.

Scammers may ask you to transfer money from you bank, wire money using a company like Western Union or MoneyGram, put money on a gift card, or send cryptocurrency, because they know these types of payments can be hard to reverse.

Threatening phone scams are targeting parents and immigrants

Two disturbing phone scams have popped up on the FTC’s radar. Both scams have one thing in common: they want to trick (and scare) you out of money. If you live on Staten Island, pay close attention, since these two scams seem to be targeting people in your area. But we know that scammers don’t often stick with one area, so they could expand their target area any time now.

Fake calling plans cheat prisoners and their loved ones

When people who are in jail or prison want to call family and friends, they can only use official service providers for either collect or pre-paid calls. The per-minute charges for these calls can be costly. And that’s how scammers have found a way to take people’s money.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Did you get an offer for student loan debt relief?

Having trouble paying your student loan debt? You might get an offer that says you can reduce your monthly payment, or even reduce your overall debt. The offer might look like it comes from the government…and they might tell you that, first, you have to pay a fee. But it’s illegal for a company to ask you to pay a fee up front before they get you the promised relief. And it’s illegal for them to pretend to be from the government.

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. The new deadline for filing is November 21, 2020..

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The FTC Chairman is not writing to you

If you saw an email from FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, it wasn’t. From him, that is. Scammers pretending to be him are emailing, though. They’re trying to trick you into turning over personal information, like your birth date and home address, which could help them scam you. So: if you get an email from the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission about getting money because of an inheritance or relief funds related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — or anything else — do not respond. Do not give out your personal information. But do hit “delete.”