FTC: Credit Card-Related Fraud Complaints Climbing

Cases of identity theft and fraud reported by consumers to the Federal Trade Commission last year jumped 4 percent to almost one million complaints, the FTC reported today. Total complaints filed with the consumer protection agency for 2009 were up 8.6 percent to more than 1.3 million, led by identity theft (21 percent); “third party and creditor debt collection” (9 percent); Internet services (6 percent); and “shop-at-home and catalog sales” (also 6 percent).

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Born to Bait: FTC-Ticketmaster Settle Over Springsteen ‘Tactics’

Ticketmaster and the Federal Trade Commission have settled a complaint filed by the federal agency alleging that the event marketing giant used “bait-and-switch” tactics to sell Bruce Springsteen concert tickets, the FTC said today. Ticketmaster has to pay consumers who bought tickets for 14 Springsteen concerts in 2009 through its ticket resale website, TicketsNow.com, and it has to be “clear about the costs and risks of buying through its reseller sites,” the FTC said.

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Credit Card Fraud Surging in I.D. Theft Cases, Study Says

Credit card fraud surged in 2009 as the No. 1 form of rising identity theft, and it now comprises 75 percent of I.D. crime cases, according to a survey of 5,000 adults by Javelin Strategy & Research, the California-based research firm. That credit card portion of I.D. fraud is up from 63 percent in 2008, Javelin’s study found. The overall number of identity theft victims in the United States rose 12 percent to 11.1 million last year, the firm’s findings show.

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FTC Returning $1.6M to Victims of Phony Debt Collection Scam

The Federal Trade Commission is sending $1.6 million in recovered funds to 24,916 consumers it said were scammed each for about $100 or more by phony debt collectors who harassed and threatened their victims. They will start receiving checks this month. The operators of the scam were charged with harassing and abusing consumers; falsely threatening criminal prosecution; illegally communicating with third parties; collecting amounts that were not due; and other violations of federal laws.

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FTC Wants to Bar Upfront Fees by Mortgage-Relief Firms

The Federal Trade Commission today proposed a new rule banning upfront fees by companies promoting mortgage modification services to rescue distressed homeowners from foreclosure. The move is an attempt by the government’s consumer protection agency to shield homeowners from firms that accept hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, then fail to deliver.

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Hefty 'Debt Relief' Fees Await Credit Card Over-Users

The beginning of a new year marks the arrival of the first post-holiday credit card statements and the realization for many that they may need to turn to debt relief companies for help. But consumers groups are warning credit card users that so-called debt consolidation plans could leave you with more debt – in the form of fees that can run as high as $4,000 for total debt of about $20,000 in the first half of a debt settlement agreement. In many debt settlement plans, consumers make monthly payments, usually into a special bank account, until “there is enough to make a lump-sum settlement offer to their creditors,” according to ConsumersUnion.org, the prominent non-profit organization which publishes Consumer Reports. The debt settlement companies, however, immediately start taking their fees out of this account.

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New York AG Targets 'Deceptive' Sharing of Credit Card Info

The New York Attorney General’s office is investigating 22 popular online retailers that “deceptively” link consumers to fee-based membership programs labeled as discount offers, the state’s attorney General, Andrew M. Cuomo, announced today. Already, Cuomo’s office said it has reached an agreement with the online movie ticket retailer Fandango to end such a practice.

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Report: 'Credit Card Twitter' Ripe for Phishing Attacks

Blippy, the ‘Twitter’ for credit card purchases that went live this month, could be targeted by cyber criminals that could use the personal information posted on the social media site to create effective phishing emails, according to a prominent cyber security firm. The site has privacy safeguards in place, but there is enough revealed in the postings to help cyber fraudsters construct phishing schemes aimed at Blippy users, according to Cyveillance, a provider of online security solutions to protect organizations from cyber attacks, including phishing and malware.

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FTC to Review Practices of Major Debt Buyers, Collectors

The Federal Trade Commission will review the practices of the nation’s top debt buyers, who often hire the debt collectors that are drawing complaints from consumers. When the debt-buying companies hire debt collectors, or assume the role on their own, mistakes are made that result in “debt collectors frequently try to collect from the wrong consumers or the wrong amounts, or both,” the FTC said.

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FTC: New Site Offers Info on Credit, Mortgages & More

The Federal Trade Commission today launched its website and blog for National Consumer Protection Week 2010, which offers guidance on crucial issues regarding credit cards, mortgages, managing debt, avoiding identity theft and keeping clear of scams. The site – http://consumer.gov/ncpw – commemorates the 12th annual event, the week of March 7-13. This year’s theme, “Dollars & Sense: Rated ‘A’ for All Ages,” stresses the importance of “using good consumer sense at every stage of life – from grade school to retirement,” the FTC said.

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