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December 2021

Keep your personal information safe in the New Year

As 2021 winds down, lots of us are making resolutions for a fresh start in the New Year — maybe to exercise regularly, get our finances in order, or spend more time with friends. But your list isn’t complete until you add “update my security software” and “protect my personal information” to the mix. Scammers and hackers are always looking for new ways to steal your personal information online.

United against scams

Kwanzaa, which is based on traditional African harvest festivals, is celebrated every year from December 26 to January 1. The first principle of Kwanzaa is Umoja (unity) and the importance of finding ways to stay united and working together. Pulling together to protect loved ones — against scammers, for example — is especially important this time of year.

Look beyond the award when you hire a lawyer

If you suddenly need to hire a lawyer, you might start searching online. When you do, you’re likely to see lawyers and law firms with fancy-looking seals and badges on their websites claiming they’re among the best in their field. Before you move forward, know that some of these seals or badges might be “vanity” or “ego” awards that lawyers can buy.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

’Tis the season for student loan scam calls

If you have a federal student loan, you probably already know that the Coronavirus emergency relief program that has paused your payments is ending. Repayments will begin again after May 1, 2022. Scammers know it, too, and are looking for ways to take advantage: they’re calling, texting, and e-mailing to try to use any confusion around restarting your student loan payments to steal your money and personal information.

How to donate wisely after a disaster

As residents across Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri begin taking stock following the devastating series of tornadoes that hit their states, you might be looking for ways to help the people and communities affected. Unfortunately, scammers also are busy trying to take advantage. You want to make sure your money gets in the hands of charities you want to help.

If you’re looking for a way to help, the FTC urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How to spot, stop, and report post-disaster scams

If you or someone you know has been affected by the devastating series of tornadoes that roared across Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri, coping with the aftermath is never easy. But when scammers target people just trying to recover, it can be even worse. Here are ways to help you and your neighbors avoid common post-disaster scams.

Make your donation count by avoiding end-of-year charity scams

The season of giving is here. If you celebrate Christmas, you might be about to fill some stockings. But, for many, holiday giving includes supporting charitable causes. Charities in need of support will be making year-end appeals by phone, mail, email, and social media. Scammers know that, too, and every year try to trick people into giving to them, not the real deal. So here are some steps to take to make sure the charity is real and your money will support the programs you care about.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Avoid a flood-damaged used car

Automakers are producing fewer new cars right now due to a computer chip shortage, and many people are looking at used cars instead. If you’re shopping for a used car and feeling rushed to buy a car before you can fully check it out — stop! Some used cars may have flood damage.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC sends third round of refunds to people who lost money to business coaching scam

One of our favorite things to do at the FTC — whenever possible — is to return money to people who lost it to scammers. That’s what we’re doing today. If you lost money to a business coaching scheme that did business as Coaching Department or Apply Knowledge, among other names, you should be getting a check in the mail soon.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Scammers are tricking more people into buying gift cards

According to the newest Data Spotlight, 40,000 people reported losing a whopping $148 million in gift cards to scammers during the first nine months of 2021. Those are staggering numbers which have increased each year for the past several years. Since 2018, gift cards have been the most frequently reported payment method for fraud. But which gift card brand do scammers ask people to buy, and lose the most money on? Google Play, Apple, eBay, and Walmart cards remain popular with scammers. But this year, Target gift cards are scammers’ top choice.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Combatting fraud and other consumer problems in Black communities

A recent FTC staff report shows what we’ve known for some time — that different communities report to the FTC about different concerns. Today, we’re highlighting some of the scams and other consumer problems that affect people living in majority Black communities.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Latino community: the FTC wants to hear from you

FTC research confirms what we’ve known for some time: that we hear from people in Latino communities less frequently than the general population. But reporting and experiencing fraud are two different things.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Avoiding a money mule scam

Scammers are looking for people to help them move stolen money. They visit dating, job search, and other sites, telling fake stories, and making up reasons to send you money. Then they tell you to send the money to someone else. If you help a scammer move stolen money — even if you didn’t know it was stolen — you could get into legal trouble.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

The clock is ticking for open enrollment at Medicare.gov and Healthcare.gov

The Medicare Open Enrollment deadline of December 7, 2021 is fast approaching. If you’re on Medicare, now is the time to review your health and prescription drug coverage and compare it with other plans to make sure you have a plan that best meets your needs for 2022. Coverage changes take effect January 1, 2022.

Open enrollment for 2022 health plans in the Healthcare Marketplace continues through January 15, 2022, but if you want your coverage to start January 1, 2022, you need to enroll by December 15, 2021. If you enroll between December 16, 2021 and January 15, 2022, your coverage will start on February 1, 2022.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness