Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
The FTC joins with other federal agencies to celebrate Hispanic heritage from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 during our nation’s official Hispanic Heritage Month. But the FTC uses enforcement and education every day, all year long, as part of its mission to protect all consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace, online and off. We use our enforcement authority to stop scams that target Spanish speakers, whether they involve fraudulent marketing practices, illegal debt collection practices, false advertising claims, or identity theft.
We deliver free information in Spanish on a wide range of consumer issues, in a variety of formats. Our resources in Spanish help Latino consumers recognize government imposters, protect their computers from malware and their personal information from phishing attempts, and avoid income scams.
Many companies have tag lines designed to catch your attention; many are true and backed up by good, solid evidence. Others… not so much. They may be downright deceptive.
Have you heard this one? “Get High School Skinny!” That’s what marketers of Healthe Trim promised people who bought their line of weight loss supplements. However, according to a settlement announced by the FTC, the company had no scientific evidence that these products actually worked.
News reports of large-scale data breaches — like this week’s announcement from Home Depot — have prompted some of our readers to ask about a credit freeze. Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
You got a robocall from someone working with the FTC with a message that promised to help you get a refund from the agency. If you ever lost money to a scam, it might have been a tough call to ignore. Turns out ignoring the call would have been the right call because — you guessed it: it was a scam.
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.
When severe weather strikes, utility outages often are par for the course. Unfortunately, utility scams are becoming part of the drill, too.
Here’s how the scam works: Someone claiming to be with your local utility company comes around during an outage and offers to reconnect your service for a cash payment. Sure, you think it’s a bit odd that they’re asking for cash, but maybe the company’s power is out, too, and they can’t operate the computers to process payments. Besides, the person looks and sounds legitimate, and you really need your service turned on.
The FTC recently attended DEF CON 22, and challenged the tech-savvy to help us zap “Rachel from Cardholder Services” and her robocall buddies. How? The agency hosted a contest to see who could develop a cutting-edge robocall honeypot — an information system designed to attract robocallers, and help researchers and investigators understand and minimize illegal calls. Today, the FTC announced the winners, who will receive a combined total of $12,000 in prizes.
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.
You get an email from your boss’s boss requesting that you make a wire transfer to a new vendor. The email is marked urgent, so you ignore the 20 others that need your attention to take care of it. You handle wire transfers all the time, and you’ll definitely score points for responding so quickly, right? Maybe not.
In a recent scheme, sometimes called “masquerading,” a hacker poses as a senior executive and asks an employee to complete a financial transaction, like a confidential business investment or a payment to a vendor. Once money is wired to a bogus account, it can be nearly impossible to recover.