FTC Consumer Alert

By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) –The Federal Trade Commission has a couple of issues it wants you to be aware of. From a phone call at home to an offer for free goods and services, the goal here is to protect your money and your privacy.

The first alert from the FTC is about people misusing their name and promising consumers phony sweepstakes prizes.

Here's the way it works, someone will call claiming they work for the FTC and tell you that you've won a lottery or sweepstakes. Then comes the catch - the caller will tell you all you have to do to collect the cash is to pay the taxes and insurance on your fake winnings. The person on the other line will try to collect between $1,000 and $10,000. They will typically ask you to send a check or to wire the money.

The FTC warns - don't send the money, or give up any personal information! It never collects money directly from consumers, neither do legitimate companies.

Here are some helpful tips. Don't pay to collect sweepstake winnings. Hold on to your money, the caller will usually try to pressure you to wire cash. Remember, look alikes are not the real thing; some fake companies will use similar names of a reputable organization to fool you. Phone numbers can also be deceptive, some con artists use technology to call you that allows them to disguise their number. Finally, if you get one of these calls contact the FTC

The next alert from the FTC is about free trial offers. If you're not careful the offers may end up costing you.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you sign up for that next free product or service. First, find the terms and conditions of the offer and make sure you clearly understand the offer. Next, pay attention to any pre-checked boxes - the check may bind you to other terms you may not agree with. Also, look for information on how to cancel the offer in the event you get shipments or services that you don't want. Finally, read your credit and debit card statements to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.