Earlier this week, more than 50 legal services practitioners joined together with staff from the FTC, USCIS, DOJ, the CFTC, the CFPB, and the SEC to talk about scams against the immigrant community – present and future.
The results of the half-day forum were illuminating for all of us. We found out about all sorts of creative scams targeting immigrants – more about that in a minute. But, just as important, we heard about the hard work and creative solutions that advocates are undertaking to help protect immigrant communities.
The latest in unwelcome, illegal, prerecorded sales calls are from scammers pitching a safety alert system for older adults.
The callers spoof a phone number so it looks like a local call on caller ID. If you pick up, you’ll hear a message saying you’re eligible for an alert system, or system upgrade, or that someone bought a system for you. The message asks you to “press one” on your phone to talk to a live operator, who will quickly ask for a bank account, credit card, or Medicare number, and maybe an address, to “expedite shipping and handling.”
We’re all consumers and information is the first line of defense in the marketplace. Everyone can benefit from amping up their consumer know-how and getting the inside skinny on avoiding scams. That’s true for servicemembers, veterans, and their families, too. And that’s the spirit behind Military Consumer Protection Day, July 17. The FTC, the Department of Defense, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Military Saves have teamed up for this first ever MCPD to kick off a year-round campaign to empower the military and veteran communities.
We’re no fans of creepy little blood-suckers like bed bugs and head lice. We’re also not keen on pest control marketers who say their products prevent or treat these infestations, but can’t back up their claims.
Crescent City or The Big Easy? “Nawlins” or just New Orleans? However you call this beautiful city, my colleagues and I will be there later this week at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference handing out bilingual materials and chatting with people about being a smart and safe consumer.
Health insurance is changing under the Affordable Care Act. Starting on October 1, 2013, people who are uninsured or who buy their own coverage can sign up for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Why write about this now, if enrollment doesn’t start until October? Because we’ve already heard from consumers and other federal agencies that scammers are trying to convince people to act, and give up money or personal information. Scammers want to get to you before you have time to think.
Planning to attend AARP’s Life@50+ National Event in Las Vegas next week? We’ll see you there! My colleagues and I will be on hand exhibiting new materials. We’re more than happy to chat with you about how to spot, stop and avoid scams.
The Affordable Care Act is in the news lately. And one thing we’ve learned at the Federal Trade Commission is that scams often follow the news. Natural disaster? Charity scams will follow. Implementation of a major new law affecting millions of people? Scammers will be there.
Assistant Director, Consumer & Business Education, FTC
The FTC is always working to know more about the types of fraud being committed and who spends money on them. Consumers provide us with useful information through periodic surveys that ask them to share the important details about their recent marketplace experiences and a bit about themselves.