Acting Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC
National Consumer Protection Weeks begins today, and it’s the biggest and best NCPW in 15 years. Thanks to 64 federal, state and local agencies and nonprofits that are putting the spotlight on the critical consumer protection work they do year-round, consumers have easy access to a tremendous variety of timely, useful information about recognizing and reporting frauds and scams, managing credit and debt, using technology, and staying healthy and safe.
Assistant Director, Consumer & Business Education, FTC
When it’s award season in Hollywood, being #1 is what it’s all about. But in other settings, there’s nothing admirable about coming in first. For the fifth consecutive year, identity theft is at the top of the FTC’s list of consumer complaints.
The FTC and HTC America announced a settlement recently that requires the company to fix security flaws in their smart phones and tablets that put users’ sensitive information at risk. If you’re wondering whether your device was affected, you’ll be relieved to know there’s a new webpage for HTC users that lists affected HTC devices and the status of updates, along with a toll-free number for information (866-449-8358) that is staffed from 8 am to 1 am EST.
When money’s tight, work-at-home opportunities can sound like just the thing to make some extra cash. Unfortunately, many of these “jobs” are rip-offs. Today, the FTC announced that it will mail over 50,000 refund checks to consumers who were scammed by Real Wealth, a company that allegedly peddled bogus work-at-home offers.
In 2012, the FTC received more than 2 million consumer complaints – a first in the history of the Consumer Sentinel Network. The #1 category of complaints? Identity theft. This tidbit is from the hot-off-the-press Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2012, a fascinating analysis of complaints received in Sentinel during the previous calendar year. Sentinel is a secure online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims, and track possible targets.
Want to learn more about the top ten complaint categories, get national data, and state-by-state accountings of the top complaints? Check out the 2012 Sentinel Data Book.
If you’re a veteran over 65 — or related to one, you are a target for a particularly ugly type of scam that involves “poaching” your pension. Unscrupulous “advisers” — attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents — are trying to sell you financial or legal products to move your assets around without giving you the whole truth about the long-term consequences.
If you’re thinking about applying for an online payday loan, you might be dealing with a direct lender – or you might be dealing with a loan aggregator. A direct lender lends you the money; a loan aggregator is a middleman – a company that collects your personal and financial information on a loan application and shops it around to lenders who might offer you a loan.
Every day, you hear about scammers, hackers, and thieves using the internet to steal money and financial information from people. Just as we do things to make it tough for bad guys to break into our homes and our cars, we can make it tougher for them to break into our computers, too. You can take simple steps — like keeping your computer software up-to-date — to deter a hacker and protect your financial information.
Want some more tips? Here’s a new OnGuardOnline.gov video with steps you can take to keep your computer secure.