Fraudsters have concocted a new COVID-related scam and this time they have businesses in their sights. According to reports, business owners are getting emails that appear to be about government-sponsored loan programs. But they’re really phishing messages trying to trick people into turning over personal information. The FTC has tips on how to spot the latest scam and how to defend your company’s good credit – and your good name – against other coronavirus cons targeting businesses.
Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance
In many ways, gift cards ushered in a win-win era. Better gift-giving (and getting) for consumers and increased sales for retailers. But leave it to scammers to try to mess up a good thing. According to an FTC Data Spotlight, gift cards are now the top method of payment favored by many fraudsters. For years, the FTC has warned consumers about gift card grifters.
“It’s the Wild West out there!” How often have you heard that statement made about health claims for products containing CBD? But here’s the thing: It’s not the Wild West. In fact, health-related representations for CBD products are subject to the same established requirements of scientific substantiation the FTC has applied for decades to any advertised health claim.
If you haven’t been following The 12 Days of Consumer Protection on the FTC’s Consumer Blog, you’re in for a treat. The puns are terrific, the visuals are sharable on social media, and the holiday-themed tips are a thoughtful way to let far-flung friends and family know you’re thinking of them.
What are the biggest risks of parking? A dinged door? A bruised bumper? For consumers victimized by the pernicious practice of debt parking, the impact on their financial health can be devastating. And if you’re a debt collector who engages in debt parking, an FTC settlement with Midwest Recovery Systems suggests you could face law enforcement action for violations of the FTC Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
A mobile banking app that promises consumers 24/7 access to their money and a high rate of interest? Sounds like a perfect 10. But according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, San Francisco-based Beam Financial stumbled on required skills and definitely didn’t stick the dismount.
For people dealing with student loan debt – your employees, a family member, or maybe you – the CARES Act gives emergency grants to qualifying borrowers. But like other financial assistance programs, consumers need to know key details up front.
Whether it’s a bogus message claiming your trademarks are about to expire unless you transfer money immediately or threats to ruin your credit if you don’t pay for unordered office supplies, scammers have small businesses in their sights. You can help the FTC and its partners fight fraud and you don’t even need to wear a superhero cape (unless you want to). Your story is your superpower. When you tell the FTC about frauds, scams, and other kinds of bad B2B practices, you’re helping the FTC and our law enforcement partners spot and stop scams.
Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. And possibly face criminal charges. That’s the message of Operation Corrupt Collector, a coast-to-coast crackdown by the FTC, three other federal agencies, and partners from 16 states.
What’s in a name? According to an FTC lawsuit filed in April, if you’re an outfit that uses the name “SBA Loan Program” – and you falsely claim to be an approved lender for the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus relief lending program – what’s in your name is deception. Under the terms of a settlement, that shady tactic stops right here, right now.
It’s National Small Business Week, a time set aside annually to salute American’s 30 million small businesses – companies that employ almost half of the country’s private sector workforce. The special focus this year is on the resilience and resolve of entrepreneurs and workers as they battle back against the impact of the pandemic.
Online subscription services can be a convenience for consumers and a boon for business – especially now that so many people are shopping from home. But under the law, companies have an obligation to explain the details of the deal up front, clearly disclose any automatic renewal terms, get consumers’ express consent before billing, and offer simple ways to cancel.
Tenth anniversaries are traditionally for tin. So we’re commemorating the tenth anniversary of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center and Business Blog by doing some tin-kering that regular readers may have noticed. (Sorry. After a decade, the wordplay is second nature.)
Small businesses are a critical part of the U.S. economy, providing opportunity and employment to consumers across the country. Unfortunately, the current health crisis has brought financial strain to small businesses and their ability to secure the financing they need to survive. So now more than ever, struggling businesses and their owners need protection from deceptive and unfair practices. And the FTC is working swiftly to provide it.
As adage-writers go, whoever penned, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” should have looked for another line of work. And, the writer should have hoped that prospective employers wouldn’t spot a promotion for MyLife.com, saying they could see the writer’s criminal and sexual offender records by subscribing to MyLife’s background reports.
In the face of COVID-19, many small businesses are looking for help from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. They may apply for PPP loans through Small Business Administration-authorized lenders and others the SBA has determined to be eligible. But there are concerns that some companies have falsely claimed an affiliation with the SBA or approved PPP lenders, or have represented untruthfully that people can get PPP or other SBA loans by applying on their sites.
Many small businesses, medical offices, non-profits, and religious organizations turned to a New York company called Richmond Capital for financing, but according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, they got less – and way more – than they bargained for. The just-filed law enforcement action against a network of related companies and individuals is the latest step in the FTC’s ongoing effort against questionable financing practices that target small businesses.
Ostriches get a bad rap. The popular perception is that the species Struthio camelus bury their heads in the sand. But, in fact, they flee from perceived danger at speeds that top 60 miles per hour. An FTC proposed settlement with a payment processor that ignored signs that certain clients were engaged in fraud suggests that more companies should follow the real-life example of the ostrich and hightail it away from any association with illegal conduct.
The FTC’s complaint against Bronx Honda alleges the company jacked up what consumers had to pay by fabricating fees, inflating charges, and sneaking in stealth add-ons. The lawsuit also alleges the defendants discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers by charging them higher financing markups and fees, in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Reg B.
For a company called Harvest Moon, its business practices sure leave consumers in the dark about key aspects of its payday loans. That’s what the FTC alleges in a case filed in federal court in Nevada.