Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Have you checked your mobile phone bill lately? See any charges for random text messages you get? Not reading your statement with an eye out for fraudulent charges crammed onto your bill can be a costly mistake. A recent case settled by the FTC claimed that Tatto Inc., a company that creates and sends celebrity gossip, trivia, and horoscope text messages to phones, crammed a $9.99 monthly “Premium Text Messaging Services” subscription charge...

Bridget Small, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you’re a homeowner, you know there’s more to getting set for cold weather than digging out your coat, scarf, and favorite fuzzy boots; it’s time to make sure your home is winter-ready too. More than half the energy a typical home uses goes toward heating and cooling. The Federal Trade Commission has some energy saving tips to help you get the most from the energy you use and avoid a home-heating scam. Remember that small energy savings add up...

Bridget Small, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Many homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments look for practical payment alternatives: they might try to convince the lender to modify the loan terms, ask for a temporary reduction, or maybe try to refinance the loan. The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with American Mortgage Consulting Group illustrates one alternative to stay away from: paying a company a fee to modify a mortgage before they deliver the results they promise. The...

Carol Kando-Pineda, Attorney, FTC

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, you may be thinking about donating to your favorite charities. This time of year also brings more attention to our deployed personnel, their families living stateside and our veterans. Lots of folks wonder how they can support the troops. Many organizations tout themselves as a way to give back to those who serve. But not all charities are legitimate – some are out to make a buck for themselves. Some...

Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

The scenario: You want to sell your car without any hassles for a fair price. So you place an ad on a community website hoping for a quick sale. Shortly thereafter, you get a call from what sounds like an auto company. For a fee, the company promises to put you in touch with a buyer. If your car isn’t sold, they promise to refund your money. So you go ahead and pay the fee, and wait for the company to present a buyer for your car. The catch?...

Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Scammers pushing empty promises of wealth from business opportunities never cease to be creative. They come up with ideas that sound so detailed and timely that the deal has to be legit…at least, that's what they want you to think. Take Smart Tools, LLC, whose marketing convinced people they could earn nearly $40,000 per year in a home-based business as “Government Insurance Refund Processors.” The business allegedly involved finding people...

Nicole Vincent Fleming , Consumer Education Specialist

Scammers use a number of clever schemes to trick people into sending them money: they might promise a job, a loan, a scholarship, or a prize. They might even promise to recover money lost to a previous scam. That’s right. Some scammers contact people who already have lost money to scam artists and offer to get the money back — for a fee. Sometimes, they claim to represent government agencies or offer to file necessary paperwork with law...

Lisa Lake , Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

The holidays are drawing near and you're thinking about how to get to grandma's for Thanksgiving and your favorite uncle's for Christmas; money for airfare may be a bit tight. But, just like that, you get a letter that sounds like you’ve lucked out in a big way. It’s an offer for free plane tickets to practically anyplace you want to go. The company — whose name appears to be that of a well-known airline — urges you to act quickly, or you might...

Nicole Vincent Fleming, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you’ve ever had a virus on your computer, you know what a nightmare it can be — a slow computer that crashes unexpectedly, your contact lists getting messages that you didn’t send, your online accounts vulnerable to hacking. Perhaps just as frustrating as a virus infecting your computer? Paying someone to get rid of a virus that isn’t there. Here’s how it happens: Scammers call and claim to be associated with a well-known tech company like...

Colleen Tressler , Consumer Education Specialist

The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has left many people asking how they can help. If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised — and as you intend. Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on...

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