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The Highlights of the Highlights

Every spring, the FTC issues its Annual Highlights for the previous year. It’s like a corporate annual report, summarizing what we did and how we did it. Interested in our mission to protect consumers? Here are some of 2014’s highlights:
Every spring, the FTC issues its Annual Highlights for the previous year. It’s like a corporate annual report, summarizing what we did and how we did it. Interested in our mission to protect consumers? Here are some of 2014’s highlights:
  • We shut down scams. Scammers – like fraudulent telemarketers, disreputable debt collectors, and bogus tech support schemers – are good at what they do. That’s why the FTC’s investigations and lawsuits are so important – uncovering scammers’ lies and closing down their operations. When we can, we get money back for victims –and in 2014, we returned more than $65 million to 743,111 people.
  • We promoted truth in advertising. Last year, we got court orders against companies that made unsupported claims – for example, that their products would help people lose weight, improve their memories, or prevent allergies in children. We also filed suits against several companies that billed people without their approval.
  • We helped protect people’s privacy and personal information. We sued companies over apps that weren’t as secure as they claimed, programs that misrepresented their privacy practices, and sites that improperly collected personal information from children.
2014 Stats & Data infographic
In addition to law enforcement, we had active policy and education programs. We hosted a series of consumer protection events dealing with a variety of technology-related issues, including Big Data,consumer health data,alternative scoring products, and mobile device tracking. In addition, as part of our Every Community initiative, we hosted an event to explore how Fraud Affects Every Community and another about Debt Collection and the Latino Community. During 2014, we published 148 blog posts for business people and attorneys, and 261 blog posts for consumers. Posts about mobile cramming, ransom malware, advertising disclosures, fake IRS collectors, and tech support scams were among the most popular. More than 40,000 people subscribe to business blog updates, and almost 84,000 subscribe to the English and Spanish consumer blogs. Want more details about FTC cases, reports and education campaigns? Check out the 2014 FTC Annual Highlights. __________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

FTC Says Identity Theft Was the Number One Consumer Complaint in 2014

February 27, 2015 – The FTC has announced that identity theft was the number one consumer complaint received by the agency last year. That’s no real surprise because it has been the number one consumer complaint for 15 years now. But it may no longer be the fastest growing crime. Debt collection scams were the second largest consumer complaint of 2014; with 160,000 reported incidents. That’s 100,000 more than were reported in 2013.The FTC has announced that identity theft was the number one consumer complaint received by the agency last year. That’s no real surprise because it has been the number one consumer complaint for 15 years now. But it may no longer be the fastest growing crime. Debt collection scams were the second largest consumer complaint of 2014; with 160,000 reported incidents. That’s 100,000 more than were reported in 2013. And for the first time, imposter scams also jumped into the top five complains received by the agency. These are scams where the caller may pose as being from the IRS, the Social Security Administration or some other agency in an attempt to defraud consumers. In a related report from the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) conducted by the Poneman Institute, medical identity theft increased approximately 22% in 2014. Again, that isn’t a surprise because medical records can be worth many times more than financial records when sold on the black market. __________________ Jim Malmberg, ACCESS, American Consumer Credit Education Support Services, is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) consumer advocacy group whose primary purpose is to disseminate credit education information and assistance to the general public, visit www.GuardMyCreditFile.org

Debit Card Risks – What You Need to Know

Periodically, we remind our readers that debit cards and credit cards are not the same thing, and that the consumer protections available for each type of card are significantly different from one another.Periodically, we remind our readers that debit cards and credit cards are not the same thing, and that the consumer protections available for each type of card are significantly different from one another. Given the recent increase in the number of data breaches around the world, we thought this might be a very good time to go back over the two products. Fortunately for us, NBC News in Los Angeles just did a very nice video report on this subject. We encourage you to watch the complete report as it provides a good breakdown on the differences between these two types of cards. _________________ Jim Malmberg, ACCESS, American Consumer Credit Education Support Services, is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) consumer advocacy group whose primary purpose is to disseminate credit education information and assistance to the general public, visit www.GuardMyCreditFile.org

Anthem Hack Attack, Part 2: Phishing Scams

Last week I told you about health insurer Anthem’s data breachaffecting more than 80 million customers. This week, I’m telling you about scam artists who are sending phony “Anthem” emails that pretend to help customers, but actually phish for their personal information. Last week I told you about health insurer Anthem’s data breach affecting more than 80 million customers. This week, I’m telling you about scam artists who are sending phony “Anthem” emails that pretend to help customers, but actually phish for their personal information. The phony email is designed to look as if it comes from Anthem and asks customers to click on a link for free credit monitoring or “credit card account protection.” Don’t let that fool you. Anthem says it will contact current and former customers by postal mail with specific information on how to enroll in credit monitoring. Anthem also says it’s not calling customers about the data breach or asking for credit card information or Social Security numbers over the phone. So, if you get an email that says it’s from Anthem offering you services in response to the data breach, don’t reply, click on any links, or open any attachments. Instead, forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and delete the message from your inbox. To learn more, read our article on how to deal with phishing scams. _______________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.