Tax season is here. It’s time to get your files and forms in order. You may be well-versed in W-2s and 1099’s, but do you know that an identity thief can mess up your tax files or even get to your tax refund before you can file for it?
The FTC recently completed its fifth national study on the accuracy and completeness of consumer credit reports. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
You read the news to get the facts. But what happens when that “newsy” site isn’t news at all?
A company that used fake news sites to push acai berry supplements and other weight loss products has agreed to settle FTC charges. The agency has already stopped others that used wanna-be news sites and phony testimonials from supposed reporters to push their products. The M.O. is to make people think the site — and the reporters — are part of legitimate and trusted news organizations, name-dropping CNN and Consumer Reports, among others, to add credibility. But the fact is the sites were ads, masquerading as news.
Have you ever wanted to know what to do about a problem, but not wanted to read lots of information to get your answer? Sure, it might be interesting, but in that moment you just want to know what to do.
If your problem was a consumer protection issue, we may have your answer: consumer.gov. It’s a free new resource from the Federal Trade Commission that gives you the consumer protection facts, plain and simple.
If you owe back taxes, you may be tempted to turn to companies that claim they can reduce or eliminate your tax debts and stop back-tax collection by applying for IRS hardship programs. The truth is that most people don’t qualify for the programs these fraudsters hawk, their companies don’t settle the tax debt, and in many cases they don’t even send the necessary paperwork to the IRS.
The FTC recently settled a case against American Tax Relief, which bilked consumers out of more than $100 million by falsely claiming it could reduce their tax debts. Under the settlement, the scammers are banned from telemarketing and selling debt relief services, and must surrender more than $15 million in cash and assets to settle charges that they violated federal law.
Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Path — a social networking site that promoted itself as a different kind of social network. Primarily available to users through a mobile app, Path claimed that it “should be private by default. Forever. You should always be in control of your information and experience.”
That’s a nice sentiment, but the FTC charged that what Path told people it was doing with their personal information didn’t jibe with what was going on behind the scenes.
Last October, the FTC challenged innovators to create solutions to block those annoying — and illegal — robocalls. We’re happy to announce that we received 744 eligible submissions before the FTC Robocall Challenge closed on January 17, 2013. You can check out a brief description of each entry in the Challenge submission gallery. Way to go, innovators!
The FTC has announced that the owner of Energy Conservation Specialists (aka Thermalcool), a home insulation business, will pay up for telling people they could save 40 to 60% on their energy bills with his products — a claim he couldn’t prove — and for exaggerating the insulating power of his products.
Owning a car can be a big responsibility. And while you may have gotten up to speed on proper tire inflation and when to replace worn wiper blades, there are some other key things to know.
For instance, if you took out a loan to buy your car, you don’t own the car until you pay off the loan. If you don’t pay, the lender can repossess the car. You might be tempted by companies that promise to lower your monthly car payments if you pay them a fee first. They might even claim they can help you stop the repossession process. Put on the brakes. Those promises usually are lies or half-truths from scammers who can’t possibly deliver.