Assistant Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education
Imagine what you’d say – or write – about your health to a group of strangers. Or a friend. Or, say, your doctor. Probably different, right?
According to a settlement just announced by the FTC, a company called Practice Fusion published comments from many people who likely thought they were communicating directly with their doctor. Numerous people wrote about things like prescriptions. Facelifts. Depression. Some people also included with this information their full name, phone number, and other stuff you don't usually share with the world. But then those seemingly private messages went public.
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
Identity theft can happen to you – and your mobile phone. It has even happened to the FTC’s Chief Technologist, Lorrie Cranor, and other FTC colleagues.
How does it happen? You might get a bill for a new mobile phone that you didn’t order. The thief used your personal information to open a new account. Or maybe your phone stops working entirely because a thief used your information to upgrade to a new phone and then shut off the phone you’re using.
What can you do to reduce the risk of mobile phone identity theft?
An email from a friend urges you to try new weight-loss pills. There’s a link to an article about a celebrity’s amazing results with the pills, and the article’s author says he even tried this miracle product himself.
With all these trusted sources, why wouldn’t you give it a try?
You may have seen TV ads that claim buying gold is an easy way to earn easy profits, or build a safe retirement investment. While buying gold might help diversify your investment portfolio, is it always a good way to build your retirement? Or might it be an investment scheme disguised as a golden opportunity?
A person pretends to be someone you trust and tries to convince you to send them money. They’re called imposter scams, and scammers use all kinds of angles to make their stories sound believable. If you — or your friends and family — haven’t been targeted by one yet, it’s almost certain you will be.
Counsel, FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Education
Book lovers flock to their local library to pick up a favorite classic or the latest bestseller. But today library visitors also want and need a whole lot more. In addition to providing traditional services, librarians help diverse groups of people navigate a complicated world, including how to avoid scams.
As for scams, there’s one thing we know for sure: we’re all consumers – and we’re all targets for fraud. Scammers are good at what they do. They’re professionals who know how to create confusion and prey on emotions to throw people off-balance just long enough to take advantage. Our job is to give people a heads-up so that maybe they don’t get knocked off balance and they don’t get ripped off.
Do you have a lot of student debt? Wish it would disappear? You’re not alone. Scammers know that people are struggling with debt. They’re targeting borrowers with phony student loan debt relief schemes that can make things worse.
Today the FTC and the State of Florida announced lawsuits against two student loan debt relief schemes — Consumer Assistance Project and Student Aid Center. The FTC also announced a settlement in a case we wrote about earlier this year.
On the heels of the FTC’s List of Banned Debt Collectors comes the sequel: The FTC’s List of Banned Mortgage Relief and Debt Relief Companies and People. Why would someone be banned? Well, here’s the story.
What if you could substantially improve your school grades, standardized test scores, athletic performance, and future earning abilities? You might be interested, right?
That’s just what ads from LearningRx Franchise Corporation, the company that runs a network of more than 80 learning centers, promised its “brain training” programs could do. Some ads went further, claiming the programs are clinically proven to help permanently overcome the symptoms of ADHD, autism, age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, and traumatic brain injuries. Customers often spent thousands of dollars for the company’s programs, which could take months to complete.
But before you get on the brain train, know this: These claims are unproven, according to an FTC complaint. Learning Rx has agreed to settle the FTC's charges.