Would you donate to a charity called Help the Vets? What about if you get a robocall that asks you to donate your car to “Veterans of America?” Unfortunately, just because the word “veterans” is in the name, it doesn’t mean that an organization actually helps veterans. Today, the FTC and its state partners announced that they have taken action against fake charities and other schemes as part of Operation Donate with Honor, a nationwide law enforcement and education initiative to stop veterans-related charity fraud.
Consumer News from FTC.gov
You’re working on your computer when, suddenly, a message pops up on the screen: “Virus detected! Call now for a free security scan and to repair your device.” That’s a tech support scam. Don’t call, text, or email. Legit tech support companies don’t operate that way.
The FTC’s Used Car Rule says that dealers have to display a Buyers Guide in every used car they have for sale, and give it to buyers after the sale. The FTC recently checked out how dealers are following that rule in 20 cities, visiting 94 dealerships, and inspecting more than 2325 vehicles. Here’s what we found.
While plenty of successful relationships begin online, scammers also use online dating sites, apps, and chat rooms to trick you into sending them money. These imposters create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love. Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money. It’s a big problem: reports to the FBI about online romance scams tripled between 2012 and 2016, and imposter scams were among the top reports to the Federal Trade Commission for both the general population and the military community.
Do you have student loans? Did you respond to an ad from Ameritech Financial claiming to offer you debt relief? The FTC has sued Ameritech for deceptive practices and just sent letters about the case to thousands of customers. The court hasn’t ruled, but there are steps you can take now to make sure your payments are going toward your loans. In addition, Ameritech may have changed your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account information. There are steps you can take to protect your financial privacy.
When a company says you can try its product for free, you might think, why not? Here’s why not: You could end up paying a lot of money for that free trial. Scammers often use free trial offers with undisclosed or buried terms to enroll people in costly membership programs. That’s what happened in the case of Triangle Media Corporation, the FTC alleges.
Scammers try to trick you into thinking a loved one is in trouble. They call, text, email, or send messages on social media about a supposed emergency with a family member or friend. They ask you to send money immediately. To make their story seem real, they may claim to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer; they may have or guess at facts about your loved one. These imposters may insist that you keep quiet about their demand for money to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. But no matter how real or urgent this seems — it’s a scam.
With July 4th right around the corner, plenty of us are still running around trying to book a last-minute vacation rental. If that’s you, here’s what you need to know: scammers are ready with fake vacation rental ads. Rental scammers try to get your rental booking and take your money. But, when you show up for the vacation, you have no place to stay and your money is gone!
Have you ever gotten a call about a debt that isn’t yours? That’s known as a phantom debt, and today, the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office announced that they are suing two players in an alleged phantom debt scam: Hylan Asset Management and Worldwide Processing Group. It’s a complex web of made-up debt, debt sellers, brokers, buyers, and collectors – involving some players the FTC has sued before.
July is Military Consumer Month. This year, we’re focusing on fighting imposter scams – where a con artist pretends to be someone you trust, to convince you to send money or personal information. The scam can take many forms: imposters may say they’re calling from the government or from a business with technical support expertise. Other scammers lure unsuspecting victims by posing as legitimate users of online dating sites, or say that there’s an emergency with a friend or family member.
The long-awaited 2018 World Cup is underway. Fans from across the world have flocked to Russia in support of their favorite teams. Though most have already bought their tickets, many are still hoping to come across an unbeatable deal that will get them to the Cup.
While fans hope for a good deal, scammers hope for ticket-hungry fans. Here are a few tips for avoiding World Cup-related scams:
Recently, someone showed up at the door of the FTC to ask about his prize. He had a mailing saying he’d won $5 million – and the FTC had “certified and verified” it. The letter told him to act immediately to get the money. Otherwise, his millions would be given to somebody else. He’d talked with the so-called officials, who wanted him to pay $500 in fees to claim his (ahem) prize.
If you’re in a small business, you probably need a way for people to pay you – and ways to lower your costs. Scammers have been working both of those angles, promising businesses that they can save on leases of credit card processing equipment. They’ve also been promising that businesses can cancel any time.
At the FTC, our mission is to protect consumers, including small business owners. That’s why, when we see scammers taking money from small businesses, we step in. Today, the FTC announced Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams, a coordinated law enforcement and education effort with state and federal partners, as well as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), to stop scams that target small businesses.
While lava from the Kilauea volcano eruption continues to flow, it’s not too early to begin taking stock and developing a recovery plan. Here are a few tips and links to resources to help make the task less burdensome.
Natural disasters and weather emergencies are in the news. Whether it’s the volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Guatemala or the wildfires in Colorado, it’s heartbreaking to see people lose their homes and businesses to the ongoing devastation. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity. If you’re looking for a way to help, the FTC urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams.
The FTC protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. We conduct investigations, sue outfits and individuals that break the law, and inform people and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. In 2017, the FTC filed more than 70 law enforcement actions, obtained more than 145 orders against defendants, and refunded more than $269 million to consumers.
The FTC is a civil law enforcement agency. That means that, while we can’t put people in jail, many of our partners can and do, including...
Planning a summer vacation? You may be looking for deals on cheap flights or discounts at hotels and resorts – but some promotions may come with strings attached, and others can be downright scams. Before you pack your bags, keep these travel tips in mind.
Instead of min(d)ing their own business, are scammers using your computer as their virtual ATM? Three years ago, the FTC warned the public and took action against cryptojacking. That’s where scammers use your device’s processing power to “mine” cryptocurrency, which they can then convert into cold, hard cash.