Regional Director, Western Region, Federal Trade Commission
Job scams. Affinity fraud. Bogus – and dangerous – dietary supplements. Notario fraud. Government imposter scams. These are just a few of the issues facing consumers in California’s immigrant community – and they’re the same issues the FTC is seeing nationwide. We knew from our last Fraud Survey that many consumer scams impact Latinos and African-Americans disproportionately. What our data did not tell us is how immigrants fare, so we went straight to the source to try learn about the marketplace in immigrant communities.
If a business doesn’t deliver on its promises or someone cheats you out of your money, the Federal Trade Commission wants to hear about it. Our new Mobile Complaint Assistant at ftcca.gov makes it possible to file a complaint using your smartphone or tablet.
In June 2013, the FTC sued several companies that scammed timeshare owners. The companies claimed they had interested buyers for timeshare properties. In fact, if timeshare owners paid, they found out there was no buyer — and they couldn’t get a refund.
Now, somebody is trying to rip off those timeshare owners again. Several people who previously paid Resort Solution Trust have reported to the FTC that someone recently called them claiming to be an attorney working on a case against the company. The caller said the timeshare owner was eligible for a refund, generally $1,000-$4,000 — if they first paid a “bond” or “fee,” around $800.
The recent outbreak of tornadoes and other violent weather that took lives and pulverized homes and businesses from the Midwest to the Deep South is a sad reminder that extreme weather can occur with little warning.
As we know, when a disaster strikes, bogus charities aren’t far behind. The FTC urges you to be on guard against scam artists who try to take advantage of someone else’s tragedy.
Thanks to a settlement with the FTC, Apple is refunding more than $32 million to people for in-app charges made by kids without their parent’s permission. Apple also had to change its billing practices to make sure it now gets express, informed consent from people before charging them for in-app purchases.
True, bills aren’t the most thrilling read. They are hardly funny, there are no vampires or romantic triangles, and you probably won’t be pleased if there’s any suspense involved.
When bills arrive, it can be hard enough to look at the amount due, never mind wading through the line items. But if you don’t check them, you could end up paying for things you never bought. It can be easy to fix — if you spot it. Make it a habit to read your bills as soon as you get them. Do you recognize every charge?
When Langston Hughes wrote about a dream deferred (and asked whether it dries up like a raisin in the sun), he wasn’t necessarily thinking of scams. But many Spanish speakers found their immigration dreams deferred (if not ended) and their money taken by a Baltimore-based couple who promised help with immigration services.