Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
It’s tax season, and you know what that means: identity thieves who want to steal your tax refund are at work. Find out how to stop them during Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, January 25-29.
The FTC and its partners are hosting a series of events to help you understand tax identity theft, how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim, and what to do if thieves have stolen your tax refund. Check these out:
It may be time to update an old lullaby with a new stanza: “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, unless your Wi-Fi baby monitor is well-secured.”
Why? It turns out that some baby monitors that broadcast live audio and video feeds over the internet have few security protections. Nobody wants a monitor that lets you keep an eye on your baby from your computer or mobile device if it allows a stranger to hack the feed and watch, too.
The subject line says “Get Protected,” and the email talks about new features from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that can help taxpayers monitor their credit reports, and know about unauthorized use of their Social Security number. It even cites the IRS and the official-sounding “S.A.F.E Act 2015.”
It sounds real, but it’s all made-up. It’s a phishing email to get you to click on a scammer’s link.
Pop quiz: If someone calls you asking for your bank account number, should you give it to them?
Answer: Never. Hang up — it’s a scam.
We’ve heard about different kinds of imposter scams on the rise. In one scenario, scammers call, pretending to work for Medicare. They say they need to verify your bank account number — and it might sound convincing. In truth, it’s a trick to steal your money.
Assistant Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education
There’s not much doubt that fraud can happen anywhere. To anyone. That’s the whole idea behind the FTC’s Every Community Initiative: fraud affects every community, and the FTC works to stop fraud wherever it happens. When we look at all the reports we get from consumers in communities across the country, these scams start to feel like something we face together, something we can imagine happening to us, or someone we care about. And when we share those stories, it really hits home.
Assistant Director, Division of Financial Practices, FTC
Even though it’s a new year, some things remain the same. Illegal debt collection is still a big problem – which means it’s a big deal here at the FTC. We’ve made some progress: you might remember the 115 cases we announced in November, working with more than 70 law enforcement partners. That was big, but we’re not done yet.
Today, we’re announcing four cases against debt collectors who did pretty much everything wrong – and the release of one video with the story of a veteran who did pretty much everything right.
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.
Imagine if you could improve your memory, attention, and problem solving skills in all aspects of your life — just by playing some simple “brain training” games online or on an app. Games that could help prevent age-related memory decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Games that could help you at work, school, or with everyday tasks — like remembering where you left your keys, or quickly recalling the name of a person you just met.
That’s just what Lumosity claimed its games could do, based on “proven neuroscience research.” But the FTC charged that there isn’t solid science showing that Lumosity’s “brain training” games work the way they say they would.
As the year comes to a close, you might be getting lots of requests for charitable donations. If a cause tugs at your heartstrings, but the charity is unfamiliar to you, take a few minutes – and a few steps – before giving.