by Emma Fletcher
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Tugging at your heartstrings is a tried and true method scammers use to get to your wallet. When tragedy strikes, they take advantage.

Sadly, the Las Vegas shooting is no exception. The FTC has heard from people about suspicious requests for donations. A little research will help you avoid a scam and ensure that your gift goes to a reputable charity that will use the money as you intend.

To avoid charity scams, consider these tips before you give:

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The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) along with U.S. Attorneys' Offices in the District of Puerto Rico, Southern District of Florida, Middle District of Florida and Northern District of Florida announced the formation of task forces comprised of local, state and federal agencies in their respective areas to combat Hurricane Irma related illegal activity. The NCDF and U.S. Attorneys in those districts urge residents and businesses to immediately report suspected fraudulent activity relating to recovery and cleanup operations, fake charities claiming to be providing relief for victims, individuals submitting false claims for disaster relief and any other disaster fraud related activity.

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by Rosario Méndez
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC

Usually, when I pay with a check, I write it out and sign it, or I direct my bank to send it on my behalf. But what if a check is drawn on my account but I didn’t write it, sign it, or tell my bank to send it? It can happen if someone has your bank account number: they can use your number to create a check that takes money out of your account. Now, if you’d already agreed to the charges, there’s no problem. But what if you didn’t? That means this check is part of a scam – which is what the FTC says happened in a case announced today.

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by Rosario Méndez
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC



You’ve probably seen online ads with offers to let you try a product – or a service – for a very low cost, or even for free. Sometimes they’re tempting: I mean, who doesn’t want whiter teeth for a dollar plus shipping? Until the great deal turns into a rip-off. That’s what the FTC says happened in a case it announced today.

The defendants sold tooth-whitening products under various names, and hired other companies to help them market the products. These affiliate marketers created online surveys, as well as ads for free or low-cost trials – all to drive people to the product’s website. What happens next is so complicated that we created an infographic to explain it.

In short, once people ended up on the product’s website, they filled in their info, put in their credit card number, and clicked “Complete Checkout.” When people clicked this button they not only got the free trial of the one product, but were actually agreeing to monthly shipments of the product at a cost of $94.31 each month.

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The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 53,240 checks totaling more than $532,000 to people who paid VGC Corp of America for expensive vacation packages they never received.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the company advertised a vacation package worth thousands of dollars as a prize to people who called and answered a trivia question. Callers were told they had won, but had to pay up to $400 in "taxes" or "fees.”

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Very small businesses, critical to the economy, face unique challenges

The Federal Trade Commission is hosting small business owners in a series of public roundtables across the United States to discuss the most pressing challenges small businesses face in protecting the security of their computers and networks.

Engage, connect, protect - small business & data security roundtables The Engage, Connect, and Protect Initiative: Small Business and Data Security Roundtables are part of an ongoing initiative by Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen aimed at helping small businesses, which included the launch of a new website in May focused on helping small business owners avoid scams and protect their computers and networks from cyberattacks. There are more than 28 million small businesses nationwide, employing nearly 57 million people, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

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