California continues to be plagued by wildfires — including the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles and the Camp Fire in Northern California, now one of the deadliest in the state’s history. Dozens of people have lost their lives, thousands of homes and business have been destroyed, and more than 250,000 Californians have been forced to leave their homes. If you’re looking for a way to help those in need, do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.
Consumer News from FTC.gov
Experiencing a destructive wildfire can be devastating and have long-term effects, but taking stock and developing a recovery plan can give you a sense of hope and purpose. Here are a few tips and links to resources to help make the task less burdensome.
Hardly a day goes by that you don’t see a celebrity, star athlete, or other well-known person touting the benefits of some product or service. But glowing recommendations aren’t always what they appear to be.
We’ve all known for a long time that scammers ask people to pay by wiring money. Money wiring companies like MoneyGram and Western Union have also known that scammers have people wire money using their services. In fact, the FTC has sued both companies – which have paid a lot of money to settle those charges – over exactly that issue. When the FTC settled with those companies (MoneyGram in 2009, Western Union in 2017), they also agreed to make changes to protect people from fraud. Except MoneyGram didn’t actually take some of those important steps.
Every summer at the beach, we see billboards and flags advertising tours of sandy acres. The signs claim these empty stretches will become new communities, and that living here will be amazing — in a few years. Before you pay to build a castle in the sand, you need to do a lot of research and get some professional advice. The deal might not be as amazing as advertised, and, if a scammer is behind it, it’s not the deal for you.
November 11 is Veterans Day, a time to commemorate former servicemembers and recognize their service to the nation. In the U.S. today, there are more than 20 million veterans. Whether they’ve been out of the service for days or decades, they can benefit from Military Consumer’s tips on managing money, avoiding scams, and making the most of their service-related benefits.
If you have a 2012, 2013, or 2014 Passat 2.0L TDI and got the approved emissions modification, Volkswagen has identified a potential problem with the “fix” it installed on your car that needs your immediate attention. If you have one of those vehicles but haven’t gotten the modification, you must make an important decision very soon. You’ll be getting a detailed letter in the mail from VW about this, but in the meantime, here are some key facts.
According to a 2017 report from the Small Business Administration (SBA), veterans own more than two and a half million businesses. That’s nine percent of all U.S. companies. Veteran-owned firms employed more than five million people and paid $195 billion in annual payroll. To highlight these businesses, the SBA has designated November 5 – 9 as National Veterans Small Business Week. The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development offers specialized guidance and support for veteran entrepreneurs, including programs for women veterans and members of the Reserve and National Guard. The Federal Trade Commission also has tips and tools especially for small businesses. Here are a few examples of resources to help protect your customers, employees, and the bottom line.
If you’re looking online for health insurance, there are lots of results that seem to offer good choices. But dishonest companies are literally banking on your being confused by all those choices. So, before you sign up and pay, take steps to know you’re getting exactly what the plan advertised. Otherwise, your so-called “coverage” can leave you exposed to substandard benefits and costly payments.
“I’m calling from [pick any bank]. Someone’s been using your debit card ending in 2345 at [pick any retailer]. I’ll need to verify your Social Security number — which ends in 8190, right? — and full debit card information so we can stop this unauthorized activity...”
In the wake of the recent hurricanes, used car buyers should use caution: Storm-damaged vehicles are sometimes cleaned up and taken out of state for sale. You might not know a vehicle is damaged until you take a closer look or have a mechanic check it out.
Here’s what to do:
If you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice. Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information. Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number – often one that looks legit. Here are few things you should know about these so-called SSA calls.
If you, or someone you know, were displaced after Hurricane Florence or Michael, finding a new place to live is a priority. But before you pay any money, be cautious of rental listing scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth.
Do you work for a charity or other non-profit? If so, you know that your organization collects all sorts of private information, including details about people you serve and financial information related to donors. Your own personal information, too, is probably in your organization’s employee records. Cyber criminals would love to get their hands on that data. You can help protect your organization using the information at FTC.gov/Cybersecurity.
We told you last month about the $505 million in checks going back to 1.1 million people who got an online payday loan from a company affiliated with AMG Services. And we’ve heard from many of you that you got your check and cashed it. We’ve just heard, though, that scammers are trying to get into the act, using fake checks that look like the real one.
Quitting smoking and losing weight can be enormously challenging. In the quest to kick the habit or drop the pounds, you might be tempted by products promising miraculous results. But take a breath before you buy or try. Those ads could be exaggerations or outright lies that wind up costing you big.
Recently, we heard about scams targeting parents of high school students preparing for college. The scammers claim to be from The College Board – the organization responsible for the PSAT and SAT tests. They call or email you, asking for credit card numbers so they can send PSAT prep materials that the student has supposedly requested. Often the scammers have the student’s name, address and phone number – making them seem more believable. Except your student didn’t ask for materials, and it’s not this group calling.
You might have read media stories about older people losing lots of money to scams. It does happen – and FTC data show that when people over 80 report losing money, the amount they lose is a lot higher than the amount younger people lose. But that’s not the whole story. In fact, FTC data also show that people 60 and older are great at reporting the fraud they see – and can be great at avoiding it, too. Because, according to the FTC’s 2017 data, people 60+ are much more likely to report fraud than people in their 20s – but far less likely to say they lost money.
Halloween is right around the corner. And if you’re looking to top off your costume by wearing cosmetic contact lenses, read on.
This week, the FTC, the National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO), and state charity regulators are joining forces with regulators from across the world to participate in the first International Charity Fraud Awareness Week.
It’s extremely important to raise awareness about charity scams to help ensure that donors’ hard-earned money goes to the worthy causes they seek to support, not to fraudsters. Would you help us spread the word? Here are a few things you can do this week: