Consumer Information Blog

The IRS is now using private debt collectors

Do you have a debt with the IRS that’s more than two years old? If so, you might be getting a letter from the IRS about your account being transferred to a private debt collector. This new program only applies to taxpayers who have had an IRS debt for years, and who were previously contacted about it by the IRS. Here’s how it will work – and how to spot a scam.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

“I have an emergency and need money”

If you’ve ever gotten one of those calls, you know how alarming they can be. And that’s exactly what the scammers count on. They want you to act before you think – and acting always includes sending them money: by wiring it or by getting a prepaid card or gift card, and giving them the numbers on the card. Either way, your money’s gone.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

FTC to host workshop protecting military consumers

Servicemembers and veterans face unique challenges dealing with financial issues, managing their money, and avoiding scams. For servicemembers, frequent relocations mean regularly shopping for housing and buying or selling a car. And servicemembers and veterans alike will navigate important financial decisions, like paying for education. For military folks, these decisions can involve high stakes with long-term effects on family and day-to-day life, security clearance, and mission readiness.

Free movies, costly malware

“Something for nothing” sounds appealing, but often there’s a hidden cost. If the something is a site or app offering free downloads or streams of well-known movies, popular TV shows, big-league sports, and absorbing games, the hidden cost is probably malware. Sites offering free content often hide malware that can bombard you with ads, take over your computer, or steal your personal information.

The FTC won’t offer to fix your computer

Some cons send pop-up computer warnings to pitch unnecessary – and sometimes harmful – tech support services. Some make phone calls. Others – like one scammer the FTC just sued – send spam emails that falsely claim the FTC hired them to help remove problem software. In this case, announced today, the court has ordered the defendant to stop claiming he’s affiliated with the FTC, to shut down his websites and phone numbers, and inform current customers who contact him that he is not affiliated with the FTC. If you got one of those messages, please tell the FTC.

Don’t let utility scams overpower you

When your electricity goes out, you lose power in more ways than one. Daily necessities are out of reach without lights, warm water, and heat or air conditioning.

So if you get a call from someone threating to shut off your utilities because they say you owe money, you’re going pay attention – and you may even pay up. But not so fast. The caller might be an imposter running a utility scam.

Upcoming Twitter chats

We’ve got some Twitter chats planned for servicemembers, families, and anyone who works with the military community.

@MilConsumer and @DeptVetAffairs (Department of Veterans Affairs) will host a chat about avoiding and recovering from tax, child, and medical identity theft. Join in at #VeteranIDTheftChat: Wednesday, April 12, 11am ET (10am CT, 9am MT, 8am PT)

@MilConsumer, @CFPBMilitary (the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), and @StopFraudCo (the Stop Fraud campaign of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office) will host a chat with tips about your rights concerning debt collection and how to deal with debt. Join in at #Milchat or #Milconsumer: Thursday, April 13, 3pm ET (2pm CT, 1pm MT, Noon PT)

Debt collector returns $2.7 million to victims

Just last week, the FTC mailed checks returning money to more than 5,200 people, thanks to the FTC’s settlement with Rincon Debt Management. People who lost money are getting back the full amount of the fraudulent fees they were charged – an average of $525 – which adds up to more than $2.7 million.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A Western Union update

We told you earlier this year about the $586 million settlement with Western Union – where the company will return money to people who were tricked into wiring money to scammers using Western Union. Those refunds are part of a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and our partners at DOJ are handling the refunds. Since many of you have been asking about where things stand, we wanted to give you an update on the Western Union refund process. Here’s what we can tell you so far.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Planting seeds for a financially literate future

April showers bring May flowers. April also is a good time to plant seeds for a financially fit future. After all, April is Financial Literacy Month.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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