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March 2021

Behind on your rent and worried about eviction?

Lots of people are having difficulty paying their rent due to the pandemic. But today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released an eviction moratorium order. It protects people from being evicted for not paying their rent if they complete a declaration form and give it to their landlord. This protection lasts until June 30, 2021.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages

20/20 vision: Highlights of the year

While everything about the past year has felt strange and new — I just can’t say unprecedented another time — we could see one thing coming: scammers seized any opportunity to take advantage of the confusion and heightened emotion surrounding COVID-19. So, the FTC sprang into action, suing companies that made deceptive claims and did not correct them, making sure that deceptive claims for hundreds of products were quickly removed, sending hundreds of warning letters, and creating a dedicated site to share information as quickly as possible. We kept moving on other issues, too, got back $483 million to consumers who lost money to frauds, and expanded our outreach. Here’s the highlight reel from 2020.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

University of Phoenix students get payments

The FTC is sending a total of almost $50 million to nearly 147,500 students of the University of Phoenix. The money comes from the University’s 2019 settlement with the FTC, when the FTC charged the school with using deceptive ads to attract students.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Ignore bogus COVID vaccine survey

Scammers are using a new trick to steal your money and personal information: a bogus COVID vaccine survey.

Spotting scammy emails

Let’s say you get an email about a charge to your credit card for something you aren’t expecting or don’t want. Your first instinct may be to immediately call the company or respond to the email and to stop the payment. Scammers know that, and are taking advantage of it in a new phishing scheme.

Scam email says FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter is sending Coronavirus money

Earlier this year, we told you that scammers were lying and saying the FTC is sending people Coronavirus relief money. Now we’re seeing a new version of the phishing email scam that looks like it’s from our Acting Chairwoman, Rebecca Slaughter. The Acting Chairwoman didn’t email you. Scammers who spoofed her email did.

Free weekly credit reports during COVID extended until April 2022

Now it’s easier than ever to check your credit more often. That’s because everyone is eligible to get free weekly credit reports until April 20, 2022 from the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.

Scammers reportedly using fake unemployment benefits websites as phishing lures

At a time when many people left jobless by the pandemic are struggling to get by, scammers reportedly are using websites that mimic government unemployment insurance (UI) benefits websites. These sites trick people into thinking they’re applying for UI benefits, and they wind up giving the scammers their personal information.

Indoor TV antenna? Make sure you know what you’re getting

Any TV set made since 2007 has a digital tuner that lets you watch over-the-air (OTA) channels for free, if you get an inexpensive indoor antenna. These channels usually include local broadcast channels, including high-definition or “HDTV” signals. But an OTA antenna won’t get you free “premium” channels, which you can only get from cable, satellite, or online content services. Don’t believe an OTA antenna ad that says it can.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scams will follow new COVID-19 rescue plan

The pandemic is still taking a toll on every kind of well-being we have. The new American Rescue Plan, just signed into law, gets the ball rolling to help out on many people’s financial well-being. Payments will soon be coming by direct deposit, checks, or a debit card to people eligible for the payment. You can learn more about who’s eligible, and the timing, at IRS.gov/coronavirus. But let me tell you what will NOT happen, so you can spot and avoid the scammers who are right now crawling out from under their rocks.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

What to do if you’re billed for an SBA EIDL loan you don’t owe

Did you get a bill for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, but you didn’t apply for one? It’s likely that an identity thief applied for the loan using your personal or business information. The SBA has new guidance about reporting the fraud, and the FTC has tips to help you clear up any credit problems it may cause. 

Dishonest magazine companies target inmates

If someone you care about is in jail or prison, you might be thinking about getting them a magazine subscription. The FTC wants you to know that some magazine subscription companies might make promises they don’t keep — and you could wind up paying money for magazines that arrive late or never arrive.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Fake prize offers don’t pay

During National Consumer Protection Week, we'd like your help to reach people who may be cut off from social networks, and would like a friendly call. While you're catching up, share our tips about spotting and avoiding prize and lottery scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

When it’s not really the government calling

Lots of people are having trouble sleeping, thanks to the pandemic and all the parts of our lives it’s affecting. And it doesn’t help when you get a call saying you owe the government money. Oh, and, they add, you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay up immediately. That’s a scam, and nothing to lose sleep over. For those who are a little more cut off from people than usual, these calls might feel more real and worrying than they are. If you know someone might be cut off from others right now, reach out to them to make sure they know these calls are scams.  

MoneyGram fraud refunds get closer

If you used MoneyGram to send money to a scammer between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017, you may get a prefilled claim form in the mail soon. To be eligible for a refund, you must fill out the form and mail it back within 90 days from the date on the form.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Fraudulent fundraiser uses illegal robocalls to harass consumers

In 2015, the FTC and state partners sued and shut down four sham charities that harassed millions of people with more than 1.3 billion illegal robocalls about donating to charity. The FTC and 46 charity state regulators from 38 states and the District of Columbia are holding the fundraisers that made those illegal calls accountable in a lawsuit announced today. 

The next time you get a call with a pre-recorded message from charity fundraisers, remember these tips:

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Caught in a bad romance

It’s day four of National Consumer Protection Week and we’ve been discussing ways we can look out for each other during the pandemic. Today’s topic – romance scams. Beyond the job losses and economic fallout of the pandemic, the loneliness and isolation brought on by our virtual lives has real consequences. This might explain why romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020. That’s up about 50% from 2019.

Community Advocate Center connects more people to the FTC

When ReportFraud.ftc.gov launched in late 2020, it made telling the FTC about scams much easier. But here’s the thing: we know we’re still not hearing from lots of communities around the country. Not hearing those stories means we might not learn about the problems they experience, or bring cases to stop the bad practices and get money back. Which is, of course, always the goal.

The Drug Enforcement Administration isn’t calling

We’re getting reports about scammers pretending to be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. They’re trying to get your money and personal information, and using alarming phone calls to do it.

Help fight COVID vaccine scams: Share these tips with those you know

Since the start of the pandemic, people are spending a lot more time alone at home. What’s more, there’s a lot of confusion about when, how, and where to sign up and get vaccinated. Add those two things together, and you get scammers taking advantage and spreading false information, hoping isolated people will believe their lies.

When it comes to scams, let’s look out for one another

This pandemic has brought lots of side effects. Lost jobs, lost income, and lost homes are themes we see around the country — and scammers know just how to take advantage of these worries. Another side effect of the pandemic is isolation, which scammers also like to use to their advantage. During National Consumer Protection Week, which starts today, I’m asking you to join me in fighting isolation to fight scams.