Tax Day Isn’t Relax Day: New Post-Filing Ploys Emerge

The end of tax season doesn’t mean an end to tax scams; rather, a new wave starts with the deadline for filing tax returns (typically April 15 but this year extended three days so Emancipation Day can be celebrated today). Now come the emails, phone calls and text messages supposedly from the IRS or other tax collectors that usually tout refunds, warn of audits or incomplete filings, or seek to verify personal information. Most phish for identity theft intel, but …

America’s Top Consumer Complaint Is Doubled Among Military Members

It’s bad enough that everyday citizens file more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about sleazy debt collectors than about any other consumer scam. Now, another government watchdog agency reports that military personnel are especially popular targets of collector abuse — often for debts they don’t owe. In an annual report from its Office of Servicemember Affairs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that active military personnel submit debt collector complaints at twice the rate of civilians. Ways to save, …

Banks Advised on Ways to Protect Older Customers

En español | The statistics are grim and are predicted to only get worse as the boomer generation ages. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans over 65 say they have been a victim of financial exploitation, according to a poll released this week by the nonprofit Investor Protection Trust. And estimates of the total losses each year suffered by these older consumers range from $2.9 billion to nearly $36.5 billion. To combat this, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an advisory …

Scam Defense During Spring Travel

This spring break will set a record for air travel during March and April, industry experts say. On the ground, expect the same old scams. Heading to Beijing? “The most common scam involves people persuading you to go with them for a tea ceremony, which is often so pleasant that you don’t smell a rat until several hundred dollars appear on your credit-card bill,” reports travel.aarp.org, a useful resource for learning about all things travel (including scams). In India and …

Behind the Numbers: Consumers Report a New Top Gripe

Despite a 47 percent increase in complaints from the previous year, identity theft wasn’t the nation’s top consumer complaint in 2015 — for the first time in 16 years, according to an annual review by the Federal Trade Commission. That dubious distinction goes to abusive debt collectors, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. But it’s no simple apples-to-apples comparison: With 897,655 complaints, debt collectors tallied 29 percent of all reports “due in large part to a …

Coupon Scams: Don’t Get Clipped

Maybe you saw that recent Facebook post promising a free $200 Nordstrom gift card. Or perhaps it was that $100 coupon for Lowe’s, which just resurfaced after a similar “campaign” last spring, or the latest coupon on social media, touting a free Disneyland vacation for four. Like umpteen others that come and go, each of these recent frauds was part of at least 300 billion fake coupon offers annually that aim to pinch those who are trying to pinch pennies. (Just …