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.
There’s a new twist on tech-support scams — you know, the one where crooks try to get access to your computer or sensitive information by offering to “fix” a computer problem that doesn’t actually exist. Lately, we’ve heard reports that people are getting calls from someone claiming to be from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. Their claim? That your email account has been hacked and is sending fraudulent messages. They say they’ll have to take legal action against you, unless you let them fix the problem right away.
Buying a home is exciting. You saved for the down payment, scheduled the move, and are dreaming of planting new roots. Closing is right around the corner… unless a scammer gets your settlement fees first.
Senior Attorney, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC
We hear from many people about robocalls. If a call is a message from someone selling something, and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from that company, the call is illegal. Do robocalls bug you, too? If so, watch this video to learn more about them, and the steps you can take to help slow them down.
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.
We hear first-hand stories from people around the country about how scammers are targeting people in every community. And while the techniques the scammers use may vary, there’s one thing these scams have in common: sometimes, the first step in avoiding a scam is talking about it with someone you trust.
Patience is a virtue. So is persistence. Three years ago, the FTC temporarily halted a sophisticated scheme run by Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc., a Nevada corporation, that defrauded millions of consumers out of tens of millions of dollars. Here’s how it worked: The defendants bought consumer payday loan applications, including Social Security numbers and bank account numbers, from data brokers and payday loan websites. Ideal Financial used the information to take money from consumers’ bank accounts — without their OK or even their knowledge. So the court froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to control the business while awaiting trial. Fast forward to March 2016.
Sunday marks the start of the eighteenth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). It’s a time to learn about and share information to help people make more informed buying decisions and recognize, guard against, and report scams and fraud.
The more than 100 agencies and organizations involved in NCPW are on the front lines of consumer protection every day, and are committed to giving you the resources you need to navigate today’s marketplace.
The FTC received more than 3 million complaints in 2015. That’s up from 2.5 million in 2014. Some of the increase can be attributed to the fact that more people know to complain to the FTC about bad business practices, frauds and scams. Technology helped, too — more complaints are reaching the FTC through the convenience of mobile apps. The top three complaint categories are still debt collection, identity theft, and imposter scams. The FTC took aggressive action in 2015 to help address each area and will continue to make each a high priority in 2016.