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, …

How Gender Affects Online Shopping Scams

Who shops online? Roughly 72 percent of women and 68 percent of men make regular purchases with computers and smartphones, according to industry data. Who gets duped more often in online shopping scams? Depends on your definition. New data suggest that women are more actively and specifically targeted by cyber crooks for online shopping fraud and, likely because of this, fall victim six times more often than men. But when men get scammed, they lose about three times more money, …

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 …

Tax Email Scams Surge This Filing Season

Along with trying to scam the public in the nation’s reigning top ruse — phony phone calls threatening arrest, deportation or seizure of property unless immediate payment is made for alleged back taxes — IRS impostors are also breaking records on another fraudulent front this tax season. Bogus emails and text messages that phish for sensitive information or deliver computer malware have increased fourfold so far this year, reports the Internal Revenue Service. Designed to look like they’re from the …