Severe weather and historic flooding have left people in many parts of the U.S. battling to save lives, homes and businesses. The last thing anyone needs are scam artists who prey on the misfortune of others. Common natural disaster scams include debris removal and clean-up, shoddy repairs and construction, charity fraud, and imposter scams.
Here are some ways to arm yourself against scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people.
Assistant Director, Division of Marketing Practices, FTC
Who isn’t looking for a little extra cash at the holidays? An offer for an easy – and fun – job could seem like just what you need. That’s the email offer I got from a major retailer (or so it said) last week:
“Holidays are coming we need you in our team. We are hiring holiday shoppers. No experience needed, just an honest opinion. The job requires you to shop and evaluate our employees. You will get paid to shop and keep the products.”
While there are legit mystery shopper jobs out there, we almost never see them in offers that show up in your inbox. Or in the classified ads. Or on telephone poles. Or on your phone. So, before you apply, here are some things to think about.
Concerned about data breaches and identity theft? Living on your own for the first time and thinking about budgeting, credit, renting an apartment or buying a car? Were you the victim of a scam? Misled by false advertising claims? Or do you just want to get smarter about products and services you’re considering?
Whatever’s happening in your world, when it comes to protecting your money and guarding your information, National Consumer Protection Week is a great time to get the best consumer resources from federal, state and local agencies and consumer advocacy groups across the nation. NCPW 2016 is March 6-12.
You’ve heard of the “right stuff” — the mix of bravery and brass that author Tom Wolfe told us powered the nation’s first astronauts to conquer space. Well, here’s the wrong stuff — a work-at-home envelope-stuffing scheme that bilked more than 50,000 people out of over $7 million.
In a case announced today, the FTC charged that convicted felon David Brookman and his companies falsely promised that people could earn $5,000 a week by stuffing envelopes with flyers and mailing them.
The next time you get a message offering to fix a supposed problem with your computer, you might keep this in mind: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Because there’s a good chance that call is a tech support scam.
We moved into our house and immediately installed an alarm system to keep us safe from the bad guys. But even the best house alarms can’t stop everything – like a scammer walking through your front door.
The 2015 Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. It’s the time when Medicare recipients can comparison shop and make changes to their plans. It’s also a time when scammers take advantage of older consumers with ruses like these.
You walk out of a VA facility, and see a booth with people offering free phones and cell service for veterans, all thanks to a government program. It sounds compelling, right?
“Free” might end up costing you a lot of money. The FTC has heard about booths like these — and what happens next. Months later, veterans who signed up for the program get notices saying they need to provide personal information and documents to prove they meet the income requirements — something the people pitching the program never mentioned. Many veterans find that their incomes are too high to qualify for the program, and face losing service or paying for something they thought would be free.
Each year, the U.S. State Department holds a Diversity Visa (DV) lottery and millions of people from eligible countries enter their names. They hope to win a chance to apply for a U.S. visa and become legal permanent residents. The State Department runs the only legitimate site for the lottery: www.dvlottery.state.gov, and there’s no fee to enter. If you get an email or see a website that claims to be about the DV lottery, but asks you to send money, don’t click on a link or give up personal information.