Counsel for International Consumer Protection, Office of International Affairs, FTC
Mobilize Your Privacy. That’s the timely theme for Privacy Awareness Week 2014, an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum that began Sunday, May 4. Check out the initiative’s website for tips that can help you protect your privacy when using mobile devices and resources to help spread the word in your community.
How can you participate in Privacy Awareness Week? Visit OnGuardOnline.gov, the U.S. government’s website to help you stay safe, secure, and responsible online.
In June 2013, the FTC sued several companies that scammed timeshare owners. The companies claimed they had interested buyers for timeshare properties. In fact, if timeshare owners paid, they found out there was no buyer — and they couldn’t get a refund.
Now, somebody is trying to rip off those timeshare owners again. Several people who previously paid Resort Solution Trust have reported to the FTC that someone recently called them claiming to be an attorney working on a case against the company. The caller said the timeshare owner was eligible for a refund, generally $1,000-$4,000 — if they first paid a “bond” or “fee,” around $800.
The recent outbreak of tornadoes and other violent weather that took lives and pulverized homes and businesses from the Midwest to the Deep South is a sad reminder that extreme weather can occur with little warning.
As we know, when a disaster strikes, bogus charities aren’t far behind. The FTC urges you to be on guard against scam artists who try to take advantage of someone else’s tragedy.
Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, FTC
Whether it’s a website where people diagnosed with the same medical condition can share their stories or an app to find out how long it will take in the gym to burn off a Macadamia Mania Ripple sundae, consumers are taking their health in their own hands — and generating a massive amount of digital data in the process.
The Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding a hearing today to examine deception associated with retail precious metals investments and their effect on people’s retirement nest eggs. The FTC, which has a track record of stopping deceptive practices in the marketing of precious metals as investments, will testify.
Thanks to a settlement with the FTC, Apple is refunding more than $32 million to people for in-app charges made by kids without their parent’s permission. Apple also had to change its billing practices to make sure it now gets express, informed consent from people before charging them for in-app purchases.
True, bills aren’t the most thrilling read. They are hardly funny, there are no vampires or romantic triangles, and you probably won’t be pleased if there’s any suspense involved.
When bills arrive, it can be hard enough to look at the amount due, never mind wading through the line items. But if you don’t check them, you could end up paying for things you never bought. It can be easy to fix — if you spot it. Make it a habit to read your bills as soon as you get them. Do you recognize every charge?
Earth Day is April 22 – and thoughts may well turn to spring cleaning. Maybe you’re ready to brighten your home with a fresh coat of paint. Maybe your garden can use a little pruning. If you want supplies or paint that are better for the environment, chances are you’ll rely on advertising for information about the products you choose. The Federal Trade Commission requires truth in advertising, including green advertising. That means companies need solid evidence to back up the environmental claims they make about their products.
Imagine a criminal gang has defrauded thousands of people around the country. They may have scammed folks out of millions — or tens of millions — of dollars. The FTC goes after just these kinds of bad guys, and often, can get money back for the consumers who were ripped off. But what about the scammers? Some of them just pick up stakes and start again — ripping off more people along the way. The FTC might haul them right back into court. But the unfortunate truth about some of these crooks is that nothing short of locking them up is going to stop them. That’s where the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit comes in. The CLU teams up with prosecutors to get justice for consumers.
Maybe you’ve thought about buying a franchise because you’re eager for a career change. Perhaps you want to be the boss, or to build a family business. Whatever your motivation is, know that buying a franchise takes a major financial investment and a serious personal commitment. If you wonder whether owning a franchise is right for you, ask yourself some questions.