by Amy Hebert
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Are you worried that you won’t be able to make your next car payment because you’ve lost your job or income because of the Coronavirus? Or are you already behind on your payments? You’re not alone. Here’s what you can do:

Contact your lender now. Some banks, credit unions, and auto financing companies are letting people delay payments or renegotiate their payment schedules. If your lender agrees to any changes, make sure you have them in writing for later.

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by Lois Greisman
Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices, FTC

Have you noticed lately that you’re getting fewer robocalls? Yes, way too many calls are still coming, and we’re fully engaged on that issue. But we’re seeing some promising developments. Some recent FTC actions might just have something to do with that. Let’s review. In December 2019, the FTC filed suit against VoIP service provider Globex Telecom for helping scammers run a “reduce your credit card interest rate” con. In January, the FTC sent letters to 19 VoIP providers, warning them that consumer protection laws apply to them, too, and pointing out what could happen if they kept helping scammy telemarketers break the law. Then, just last week, the agency sent nine warning letters to VoIP providers that were helping Coronavirus scammers blast out robocalls during the current health crisis. The VoIP providers that straightened up accounted for billions of calls that we’re all now not getting.

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The Federal Trade Commission is mailing checks totaling more than $3.1 million to consumers who were victims of a student loan debt relief and credit repair scheme.

The FTC is mailing 20,988 checks—averaging $148 each—to victims of the scheme. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. If recipients have questions about the refunds, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, JND Legal Administration, at 1-888-304-0184.

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WASHINGTON – As part of its continuing effort to be a good neighbor, provide transparency to landowners and reduce regulatory burdens, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has issued internal guidance encouraging Service personnel and landowners to work together to ensure wetland easements are protected from drainage without needlessly restricting landowner activities on the remainder of their properties. In addition, the Service is providing landowners opportunities for an administrative appeals process to resolve questions about compliance and help avoid unnecessary legal actions.

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by Bridget Small
Consumer Education Specialist

The FTC is sending refund checks to more than 541,000 people who paid for repairs and technical services when they took their computers to Office Depot or Office Max stores for a free “PC Health Check.” The FTC says that, between 2009 and November 2016, Office Depot and a software provider did scans and told people their computers had malware symptoms — only it wasn’t true. Many customers who got false scan results were then tricked into buying computer diagnostic and repair services.

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by Alvaro Puig
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

You may be skeptical when someone you don’t know sends you a text message you didn’t expect and it tells you to click on a link. Maybe that little voice in your head starts talking to you. I know mine does. It says, “Hmm, this could be a scam. Maybe someone wants to steal my personal information. Or get me to pay for something.”

I guess that's why scammers come up with new stories all the time, like a package tracking scam we're hearing about. Here's how it works.

Scammers send a text message with a fake shipment tracking code and a link to update your delivery preferences. In this case, the message says it’s from FedEx.

But they might use the name of another well-known shipping company, or the good old U.S. Postal Service.

Cue that skeptical little voice in your head. Here’s what it might be thinking:

“Was I expecting a package delivery?”
“Did I send a package to someone?”
“Did I ask for text notifications?”

Tip: If you get an unexpected text message, don’t click on any links. If you think it could be legit, contact the company using a website or phone number you know is real. Don’t use the information in the text message.

In this version of the scam the link takes you to a fake Amazon website. There, you're invited to take a customer satisfaction survey. And you might just win a free prize. But to get it, you have to give them your credit card number to pay for shipping.

Hopefully that wise little voice in your head is thinking:

“I shouldn't have clicked that link!”
“Why would a link to my package delivery preferences take me to an unrelated website?”
“You said the prize was free, but now I need to pay. What else am I agreeing to pay for?”
“I really shouldn’t have clicked on that link!”

Tip: Some companies offer so-called “free trials” that come with hidden costs. Here’s what you should consider before you sign up for a free trial offer. Visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0101-free-trial-offers

Scammers may be turning to text messages as a new tactic. But there’s a lot you can do right now to protect yourself. Visit "How to Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages to learn what to do about spam text messages and how to report them" at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-report-spam-text-messages   more...