April is Financial Literacy Month. And whether you’re a young adult or someone a bit older, the FTC has a library of free consumer materials to help you make the most of your money and avoid costly scams.
The FTC protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. We conduct investigations, sue outfits and individuals that break the law, and inform people and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. In 2015, the FTC filed more than 100 law enforcement actions, obtained more than 175 orders against defendants, and refunded more than $22 million to consumers.
The FTC is a civil law enforcement agency. That means that while we can’t put people in jail, many of our partners can — and do.
Associate Director, Consumer & Business Education, FTC
Here at the FTC, we spend most of our time working to protect your consumer rights and promote fair competition among companies. We conduct investigations, bring cases, give people tips and advice, help businesses comply with the law, and advocate for consumer-friendly policies around the world.
Every once in a while, we take a moment to measure our impact and consider what we’ve accomplished. That lets us explain our approach to people and companies that want to know, and helps us plan for the future.
In that spirit, today we released the FTC’s Annual Highlights for 2015.
It’s fine to play “let’s pretend” when you’re young; you can be an astronaut today and an inventor tomorrow. But grown-ups who pretend to be debt collectors and lie to get peoples’ money are headed for trouble. At the request of the FTC and the Illinois Attorney General, a federal court has shut down a network of businesses and operators that falsely claimed to be debt collectors collecting real payday loan debts.
Last May, we told you that the FTC, along with all 50 states and the District of Columbia, announced a complaint against four sham charities. Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society agreed to shut down, but Cancer Fund of America (CFA) and Cancer Support Services (CSS) refused – until now.
Being green isn’t always easy. So when Volkswagen (VW) said it developed technology that greatly reduces emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) in its TDI “Clean Diesel” vehicles, environmentally-conscious consumers responded favorably, and sales of TDI vehicles in the U.S. increased substantially. The FTC is challenging a number of claims VW made about its diesel engine automobiles.
As you turn on the A.C. this spring, saving money on utilities might come to mind. Some states let you choose your energy supplier for electricity or natural gas. Maybe you're getting offers from companies, asking you to switch from your local utility company. Before you make a move, here are some questions to ask.
Exceptionally talented sports legends, musicians, and actors all have something in common – halls of fame. At the other end of the spectrum are banned debt collectors. They, too, get special recognition… in the FTC’s hall of shame.
Are you a former student of DeVry University — or of any other college — who’s heard from a company that’s promising to get your loans forgiven after you pay them a fee?
We have an important piece of advice: don’t do it. It’s never a good idea to pay an up-front fee for the promise of debt relief. Once you pay, you might not get anything in return. And you might be paying for something you can do yourself for free.