Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
As the centenarian agency in the consumer protection world, the FTC knows that changes in the marketplace almost always affect trends in fraud – and that fraudsters follow the headlines. And we listen when the US Census Bureau tells us that more Americans are 65 and older now than at any other time in US history. So we anticipate that fraud targeting older citizens will increase in the next few years.
That’s just one reason the FTC launched a fraud education campaign aimed at active older people, a group with life experience and social networks.
Your caller ID says “FTC” or “IRS,” and the phone number has the “202” Washington, DC area code. You might even look the number up and see that it’s a real government phone number.
But the person calling isn’t really from the FTC, IRS, or any other agency. It’s a government imposter whose goal is to convince you to send money before you figure out it’s a scam. The big giveaway? They want you to send money.
What do you get when you mix a fraction of truth and a whole lot of lies? The FTC’s case against scammers who allegedly operated websites that promote a fictitious “Bill Payment Government Assistance Program” — a debt relief program claiming to pay consumers’ bills and repair their credit in exchange for an advance fee.
The calendar says August: time for TV re-runs, back-to-school sales and the beginning of the futbol season. It’s also time to start planning for Hispanic Heritage Month. The FTC has free resources to help people learn their rights and avoid fraud.
If you’re behind on your bills, you’ll probably get calls from debt collectors. Their job is to get you to pay or make arrangements to pay. But any debt collector who harasses or threatens you is breaking the law. The Federal Trade Commission’s cases against Credit Smart and Regional Adjustment Bureau highlight the facts of life every consumer facing debt collection should know.
The FTC is mailing refund checks totaling more than $16 million to 18,571 people who paid American Tax Relief, a company that claimed it could reduce their tax debts. Under the settlement, the defendants turned over millions of dollars in assets, and are banned from telemarketing and selling debt relief services.