FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 6 - Number 11
IN THIS ISSUE
BOGUS FTC EMAIL. The FTC is warning consumers about a bogus email that says it's from the Federal Trade Commission's "Fraud Department," referencing a “complaint” filed with the FTC against the email’s recipient. The email includes links and an attachment that download a virus. The FTC is telling recipients not to click on the links and not to open any attachments in this email or other emails you don't expect. The virus appears to install a “key logger” that could potentially grab passwords and account numbers. More information about bogus emails, phishing, and virus protection is available at www.OnGuardOnline.gov. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/bogus.shtm.
CONSUMER FRAUD SURVEY. The FTC has released a statistical survey of fraud in the U.S. that shows that more than 30 million people – 13.5 percent of the adult population – were victims of fraud during the year studied. An estimated 4.8 million consumers were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products, more than any of the other frauds covered by the survey. Twenty percent of African-Americans and 18 percent of Hispanics are estimated to have been fraud victims. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/fraud.shtm.
SAFE WEB ACT. At the FTC’s request, a district court judge ordered an international enterprise to stop spamming consumers with allegedly false claims about products containing hoodia. This is the first case brought by the agency using the U.S. SAFE WEB Act to share information with foreign partners. The FTC alleged that the defendants used spammers to drive traffic to websites that sell two kinds of pills containing hoodia: one was supposed to cause significant weight loss, the other would dramatically reverse the aging process. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/hoodia.shtm.
DO NOT CALL REGISTRY. When the National Do Not Call Registry began, the FTC adopted a five-year re-registration mechanism. For five years, the FTC has successfully implemented the Registry, including a scrubbing program that has removed disconnected and reassigned numbers each month. The FTC has announced that it will not drop any telephone numbers from the Registry based on the five-year expiration period, pending final Congressional or agency action on whether to make registration permanent. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/dnctestimony.shtm.
DISC-O-TECH: The FTC preserved competition between two medical firms offering treatment options for those suffering from painful vertebral compression fractures. Kyphon, Inc., which offers kyphoplasty, a treatment to cement damaged vertebrae, proposed to buy Disc-O-Tech, a medical technology company working on a safer, lower cost alternative. The FTC challenged the merger and required Kyphon to sell off assets and intellectual property before completing the merger. The divestiture will allow another company to develop this innovative technique. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/kyphon.shtm.
COMBAT FRAUD. The FTC's Office of Congressional Relations invites Congressional staff to attend a "Combat Fraud Workshop" on November 15 in the Orlando area. An FTC representative will discuss the FTC's consumer education resources and how to use them in District outreach projects and constituent services programs. The workshop will run from 9:30 am to Noon at the Larry R. Jackson Library, 1700 North Florida Ave, Lakeland, FL 33805. For more information or to RSVP, contact Derick Rill at (202) 326-3007or email@example.com.
BY THE NUMBERS. The FTC will host a public workshop, "Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft," to discuss the various uses of SSNs by the private sector, the necessity of those uses, alternatives, the challenges faced by the private sector in moving away from using SSNs, and how SSNs are obtained and used by identity thieves. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held December 10 and 11, 2007, at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry. The workshop will be webcast. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/ssnworkshop.shtm
¿NECESITA CRÉDITO O SEGURO? SU PUNTUACIÓN DE CRÉDITO AYUDA A DETERMINAR LO QUE PAGARÁ? (Need Credit or Insurance? Your Credit Score Helps Determine What You'll Pay) Explains the system creditors and insurance companies use to determine whether to grant you credit or insurance, and on what terms. 8.5"x11", 6 pages, color. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/scre24.shtm.
DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY; READ THE RULES, AVOID THE RIP-OFFS. Alerts consumers of unscrupulous business that claim that, for a fee, they can make it easier to enter the U.S. State Department's annual Diversity Visa lottery or increase the chances of winning. 8.5"x11", 3 pages.
STOP. THINK. CLICK: 7 PRACTICES FOR SAFER COMPUTING. Provides seven basic tips to help computer users be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal information. 4 x 9", 16 pages. www.onguardonline.gov/docs/stopthinkclick.pdf
The FTC has issued reminders about weather emergencies like the wildfires that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people in southern California. For instance, having financial documents up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time. If you’d like to help the victims of a natural disaster, the best way to provide immediate assistance is to donate money directly to established relief organizations with the experience and means to deliver aid. The FTC has these tips so consumers can prepare themselves for an emergency or help others affected by a natural disaster:
1) When it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Leaving your home can be stressful, but knowing that your financial documents are up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.
2) Conduct a household inventory of all your possessions, documented by photo or video. Store the inventory and other important documents in a lockable, fireproof box so you can "grab it and go," if necessary.
3) Donate to recognized charities you have given to before. Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight. They may be well-meaning, but lack the infrastructure to provide assistance.
4) Be wary of charities with names that sound like familiar, or internationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/recovery/index.html.
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