Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

This time of year is often taxing for many consumers. Scams aimed at stealing taxpayers’ money make the season more stressful. The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) warns that crooks posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials are contacting people claiming they owe taxes. The caller demands a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or a credit card number for payment. If the person doesn’t comply, the caller...

Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist

If you’re a college student seeking financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can. Yes, I know, the deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 30th, but many states and schools allocate funds on a first-come, first-served basis. What’s more, some states have deadlines for filing the FAFSA to be eligible for certain kinds of aid. There’s no need to wait until your family has all of the necessary...

Amy Hebert, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

“Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of Tallahassee in April 02, 2014 at 09:00 am.” Signed, the Clerk to the Court. Sound official? Like the fake funeral notices we wrote about recently, emails like this have been going around trying to convince concerned — or curious — people to click on the supposed “court notice.” Don’t do it. Scammers send convincing-looking fake...

Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist

What do you say to a group of thieves that steal more than $20 million from tens of thousands of older consumers? The FTC says, “Gotcha!” The FTC filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop a multi-million dollar cross-border telemarketing operation led by Ari Tietolman. The FTC alleged that phone scammers in the U.S. and Canada pitched bogus fraud protection, legal protection, and pharmaceutical benefit services in a ruse to steal money from...

Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist

When disaster strikes, you can be sure that scam artists will be close behind. The latest example is the massive mudslide in Oso, Washington. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, and Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General , urge consumers to be on guard against scam artists who try to take advantage of the tragic situation. “It is a natural instinct to want to provide assistance right away,” said...

Jennifer Leach, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

There’s a new scam going around – and if your family name is from South Asia, there’s a chance you already know about it. If the scam sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been around for years, targeting one group, then another. Right now, the people being targeted seem to be from India and Pakistan; tomorrow: who can say? Here’s what’s happening: You get a call from someone claiming to be from the government – maybe the IRS, maybe a law...

Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Many people dream about being their own boss. Controlling their own schedule, running things their way, and being in charge of their own earning potential? What’s not to love? Chasing that dream wisely, though, means knowing the difference between a legitimate opportunity and a scam. The FTC, working with other federal and state agencies, has cracked down on fraudsters targeting the unemployed and underemployed with bogus promises of big bucks...

Nat Wood, Assistant Director, Consumer & Business Education, FTC

At the FTC, we’ve been warning people away from foreign lottery scams for years. So when one of our colleagues recently got an official looking mailer official looking mailer from Canada, titled “RE: PRIZE WINNING NOTIFICATION,” we turned to our own advice to check it out. Here’s what our advice says to watch out for, and what the letter actually said. Watch out for: “You just won a foreign lottery! The letter says so...” The letter: “We are...

Amy Hebert, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Have you ever gotten one of these calls? Someone says they’re with a government agency or the sheriff’s office and threatens that you’ll be sued or arrested if you don’t pay a supposed debt. But really, the people contacting you are imposters looking to scare you into sending them money. Today the FTC announced a case against a group of third-party debt collectors for allegedly deceptive and abusive business practices. According to the FTC,...

Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist

As part of the Federal Trade Commission's ongoing efforts to stop scammers who target older people, the operator of a bogus precious metals telemarketing scheme that bilked millions of dollars from them is permanently banned from selling any investment opportunity under a settlement with the agency . Using high-pressure sales tactics, Anthony J. Columbo and employees of his companies, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc...

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