Ads abound for products that claim to treat or prevent serious health conditions. Unfortunately, these products often are unproven and useless. Sometimes the ads even make false promises for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – diseases for which science has no cure.
In March 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to certain companies making unproven claims that their products can treat or cure Alzheimer’s or other diseases .Many of these products are sold on websites and social media platforms – and called “dietary supplements” or natural remedies. But that doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe. Products that claim to do it all often do nothing.
The reality is that phony miracle products can be dangerous, and not just because of interactions with medicines you’re already taking. They also might cause you to delay or stop proven medical treatment ordered by – or available from – your physician. They might also delay you from making important dietary and lifestyle changes to help your condition. And some may contain unlabeled and unapproved drugs, which can cause serious injury or death.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to make a list of credible sources of health information.
- Ask students if they, their relatives or friends ever bought a dietary supplement or health-related product that did not work as promised. What action(s) did they take?
- Why is it important to talk to your healthcare professional before you take any dietary supplements?
- What are some of the most effective ways to stay healthy, instead of wasting your money on unproven dietary supplements?
Ring, ring. “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” Stop. Don’t tell them anything. They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.
That’s just one scam you might see after Equifax’s recent data breach. Other calls might try to trick you into giving your personal information. Here are some tips for recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:
- Don’t give personal information. Don’t provide any personal or financial information unless you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can spoof their numbers so it looks like they are calling from a particular company, even when they’re not.
- If you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
For more information about the Equifax breach, go to Equifax’s website.
- Ask students if they know someone who has received such a call. If so, how the victim responded to the imposter?
- What advice can you provide to a victim of a scam?
- What should you do, if you have already received a call that you think is fake?
- What must you do if you gave personal information to an imposter?
- What can you do to protect yourself from such scams?
In late July 2016, filed as part of Operation Collection Protection, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged that BAM Financial used lies, threats, intimidation, and other illegal practices to extract payments from consumers. When obscene language, incessant calls, and harassment of family members didn’t get the results they wanted, the defendants got personal. For instance, the defendants told the parent of one purported debtor “No wonder your daughter is in such predicament with a mother like you.” The FTC alleges that they falsely stated to another consumer’s 84-year-old mother that they had a warrant for her daughter’s arrest and later told the consumer they were bounty hunters.
The FTC says BAM’s letters and phone calls were riddled with false threats of litigation. The complaint also charged that in numerous instances, the defendants didn’t follow up within five days of their initial communications with proper validation notices as the law requires.
The settlement with BAM Financial, Everton Financial, Legal Financial Consulting, Luis O. Carrera, and Robert Llaury bans them for life from debt collection agency industry.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students what consumer rights they have when dealing with debt collection agencies.
- Ask students to list important provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Nearly 30 million Americans have their accounts in collection, and debt collectors make as many as one billion contacts with people every year. Are these contacts legal?
- What types of debts are covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
- How can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
How many people are scammed into sending money or giving personal information each year?
Types of Internet Fraud
- Internet auction fraud—involves the misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale on an Internet auction site, or non-delivery of merchandise.
- Credit card fraud—the unauthorized use of credit/debit card, or card number, scammers fraudulently obtain money or property.
- Investment fraud—an offer using false claims to solicit investments or loans, or providing purchase, use, or trade of forged or counterfeit securities.
- Nigerian letter or “419” fraud—named for the violation of Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, it combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, e-mail, or fax is received by a victim.
Tips for Avoiding Internet Fraud
- Know your seller – If you don’t know who you are buying from online, do some research.
- Protect your personal information – Don’t provide it in response to an e-mail, a pop-up, or website you’ve linked to from an e-mail or web page.
For more information, click here.
- Bring to class Internet-related problems and examples of individuals or families. Suggest ways in which these problems might be solved.
- Compile a list of places and organizations where a person can call to report Internet fraud.
- While the Internet makes everyday tasks faster and more convenient, like stopping, banking, and communicating, why it’s important to be safe, secure, and responsible online.
- What are some basic precautions we can take to protect our computer and personal data from theft, misuse, and destruction?
Spam text messages are not only annoying but also illegal. Many con artists use text messages to obtain your personal information by offering a free gift card or vacation. As a result, you become very vulnerable to identity theft.
To avoid becoming a victim of text message spam, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Also, never click on links in spam messages, which often carry malware or send you to fake websites.
Never reply to these text messages or give out your personal information. Report the text spam to your cell phone carrier by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM).
You can report unwanted commercial text messages and other complaints related to consumer fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
For additional information on text message spam, go to:
- Have students conduct research to obtain information on various types of scam and frauds.
- Have students create an in-class presentation or a video communicating actions to take to avoid becoming a victim of consumer fraud.
- Why do some people easily become victims of text message spam and other consumer frauds?
- Describe various types of frauds and scams.
- What actions can be taken to avoid becoming a victim of consumer fraud?