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20/20 vision: Highlights of the year

While everything about the past year has felt strange and new — I just can’t say unprecedented another time — we could see one thing coming: scammers seized any opportunity to take advantage of the confusion and heightened emotion surrounding COVID-19. So, the FTC sprang into action, suing companies that made deceptive claims and did not correct them, making sure that deceptive claims for hundreds of products were quickly removed, sending hundreds of warning letters, and creating a dedicated site to share information as quickly as possible. We kept moving on other issues, too, got back $483 million to consumers who lost money to frauds, and expanded our outreach. Here’s the highlight reel from 2020.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

University of Phoenix students get payments

The FTC is sending a total of almost $50 million to nearly 147,500 students of the University of Phoenix. The money comes from the University’s 2019 settlement with the FTC, when the FTC charged the school with using deceptive ads to attract students.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Ignore bogus COVID vaccine survey

Scammers are using a new trick to steal your money and personal information: a bogus COVID vaccine survey.

Spotting scammy emails

Let’s say you get an email about a charge to your credit card for something you aren’t expecting or don’t want. Your first instinct may be to immediately call the company or respond to the email and to stop the payment. Scammers know that, and are taking advantage of it in a new phishing scheme.

Scam email says FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter is sending Coronavirus money

Earlier this year, we told you that scammers were lying and saying the FTC is sending people Coronavirus relief money. Now we’re seeing a new version of the phishing email scam that looks like it’s from our Acting Chairwoman, Rebecca Slaughter. The Acting Chairwoman didn’t email you. Scammers who spoofed her email did.

Free weekly credit reports during COVID extended until April 2022

Now it’s easier than ever to check your credit more often. That’s because everyone is eligible to get free weekly credit reports until April 20, 2022 from the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.

Scammers reportedly using fake unemployment benefits websites as phishing lures

At a time when many people left jobless by the pandemic are struggling to get by, scammers reportedly are using websites that mimic government unemployment insurance (UI) benefits websites. These sites trick people into thinking they’re applying for UI benefits, and they wind up giving the scammers their personal information.

Indoor TV antenna? Make sure you know what you’re getting

Any TV set made since 2007 has a digital tuner that lets you watch over-the-air (OTA) channels for free, if you get an inexpensive indoor antenna. These channels usually include local broadcast channels, including high-definition or “HDTV” signals. But an OTA antenna won’t get you free “premium” channels, which you can only get from cable, satellite, or online content services. Don’t believe an OTA antenna ad that says it can.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Scams will follow new COVID-19 rescue plan

The pandemic is still taking a toll on every kind of well-being we have. The new American Rescue Plan, just signed into law, gets the ball rolling to help out on many people’s financial well-being. Payments will soon be coming by direct deposit, checks, or a debit card to people eligible for the payment. You can learn more about who’s eligible, and the timing, at IRS.gov/coronavirus. But let me tell you what will NOT happen, so you can spot and avoid the scammers who are right now crawling out from under their rocks.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

What to do if you’re billed for an SBA EIDL loan you don’t owe

Did you get a bill for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, but you didn’t apply for one? It’s likely that an identity thief applied for the loan using your personal or business information. The SBA has new guidance about reporting the fraud, and the FTC has tips to help you clear up any credit problems it may cause. 

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