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Haunted by Phantom Debt?

Phantom debts – sounds a little like a ghostly Halloween prank. Unfortunately, it’s no joke. Some fake debt collectors may try deception and threats to pressure you to pay debts that you don’t owe. The FTC recently obtained a temporary restraining order in a case against debt collectors, Pinnacle Payment Services, Lisa Jeter, her partners and related companies about just these kinds of practices. The court order shuts down the operation, pending trial.

Imagine getting a phone message like this:

This is the Civil Investigations Unit. We are contacting you in regards to a complaint being filed against you, pursuant to claim and affidavit number D00D-2932, where you have been named a respondent in a court action and must appear… Please forward this information to your attorney in that the order to show cause contains a restraining order. You or  your attorney will have 24 to 48 hours to oppose this matter… Call 757-555-1234.

Who wouldn’t be spooked? The FTC has gotten almost 3,000 complaints about messages like this.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

How Some Companies Get a Sneak Peek at Your Life … Literally

Every now and then, many of us get the strange feeling someone’s watching us. Given how easy it is these days for companies to gather information about where we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, this may well be more than a feeling.

Is It Truly Made in the USA?

There’s a good reason why President Abraham Lincoln was nicknamed “Honest Abe”. He was honest about everything he did. Fast forward a few hundred years: It’s not hard to imagine what Lincoln might have thought about the honesty of American companies touting a “Made in the USA” label on products that aren’t.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Hispanic Heritage Month: Keeping It Simple

To conclude our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting consumer.gov, a site that features consumer protection basics, plain and simple.

Paying for a Threat

Imagine this: it’s the hottest day of the year. (Or, since we’re getting into Fall, the coldest.) Someone from your utility company calls to say they’re about to cut off your power. You check the caller ID, and it looks like the right number – at least, it’s in your area code. You know you’ve paid your bill, and you can’t imagine what happened – but you also know you can’t afford to lose power.  So what do you do?

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Oh…Is This An Ad?

Do you sometimes find it hard to tell ads from surrounding content when you’re online or using a mobile app? Have you ever wondered whether the article you selected is actually an ad? If your answer is yes, you may be interested in an upcoming FTC workshop.

Do you know how to prepare for a weather emergency? Let the FTC help show you the way

September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to prepare your family, pets, and property for extreme weather situations. The FTC has information to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from different aspects of a weather emergency.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A Text Twist on Debt Collection

Yet another text message. Who’s this one from? Seriously? A debt collector?

Getting texts from debt collectors might be annoying, but it’s not illegal. What is illegal is an incomplete disclosure and a harassing or deceptive attempt to collect money. For example, it’s against the law for debt collectors to pretend to be attorneys or falsely threaten to sue you, regardless of how they communicate — through texts, through letters, or through phone calls.

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Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Common Sense Protections for Your Financial Information

To some scammers, older Americans are an attractive target — over a lifetime of saving, they may have built up a nest egg for retirement or equity in their home. Like Willie Sutton, scammers go where the money is. So banks and other financial institutions play a key role in protecting their customers from abuse and exploitation. Financial institutions are often in the best position to recognize suspicious activity relating to an account.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Protecting Your Wallet

Whether you’re setting out on your own or teaching people about financial issues like making and saving money, using credit, or managing debt, it pays to have some everyday strategies.

Managing your finances takes time and effort—and can raise lots of questions. That’s why we’re hosting a Hispanic Heritage Month Twitter chat in Spanish this Thursday, September 26, at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific. FTC staff will be ready to take your questions –  in Spanish.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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