Students at colleges and universities are being targeted by a work-at-home employment scam through emails that appear to be sent from a college or university. The scammers obtain personal information from the student while posing as a college or university representative. They convince students to cash counterfeit checks and send them the money. “Students who fall victim to this scam could face serious repercussions to their financial stability and credit record,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “I am urging all students currently enrolled at Florida colleges and universities to take extra precaution when receiving online job offers.” The scheme involves scammers sending online job advertisements offering college students an administrative position, tricking the student into believing the email is from a college or university representative by using an email address ending in “.edu.” As part of the scheme, the student receives counterfeit checks in the mail, or by email, and is instructed to deposit the checks into a personal checking account. The scammers then direct the student to withdraw the money and make a payment necessary for the job. Often, after the student sends the money, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.
In Washington state where I live, scammers have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars in employment benefits. The state, in a hurry to get payments to people needing funds during the pandemic, didn't have adequate safeguards in place to stop crooks. Now, the process has been slowed down to do more checking. How are scammers doing this? They're filing claims for unemployment benefits, using the names and personal information of people who haven't filed claims. People learn about the fraud when they get a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for benefits. If this happens to you, it means someone is misusing your personal information, including your Social Security number and birth date, said Seena Gressin, attorney for the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Consumer and Business Education. Gressin said to act fast using these steps to help protect your finances and credit:
It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Young people and parents need to be aware of online scams targeting minors. Just like adults, scammers target kids through online platforms, such as apps, games, and social networking websites. Young people are often attractive targets for scammers because they may have unused Social Security numbers, don’t generally check their credit reports, and are used to sharing information online. Scammers may pose as someone else in order to get young online users to voluntarily share information.
A Trump administration rule that denies loan relief to many students cheated by their schools is deeply flawed and should be overturned, Public Citizen and the Project on Predatory Student Lending told a court Tuesday. The groups represent student borrowers in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s new “partial relief” rule. The rule details how the department will decide whether and how much relief to give borrowers who have demonstrated that they were cheated by the schools they attended. Under the rule, most borrowers whose claims are approved receive only partial or no relief on their student-loan debt. The lead plaintiff, Sammia Pratt, attended a Corinthian-owned Everest school in Florida for accounting, based on the false promise that she’d be able to transfer credits to the University of Central Florida.
If you’re a college students, you’re probably not on campus. However, scammers are still trying to find you. You or your friends may have received an email saying it’s from the Financial Department of your university. It tells you to click on a link to get a message about your covid-19 economic stimulus check – and it needs to be opened through a portal link requiring your university login. Don’t do it, said Ari Lazarus, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission, because it’s a phishing scam. If you click to “log in,” you could be giving your user name, password, or other personal information to scammers, while possibly downloading malware onto your device. How can you spot and avoid scams like these? Lazarus advises before you click on a link or share any of your sensitive information:
Nation’s largest subprime auto lender agrees to pay more than $550 million for deceptive auto loan practices
Santander Consumer USA Inc. agreed Tuesday to pay about $550 million or more to consumers nationwide to resolve charges that its subprime lending practices exposed them to high levels of risk with auto loans that had a high likelihood of default. Santander also agreed to make changes to its terms and conditions for extending credit. “Santander defrauded desperate consumers by placing them into auto loans the company knew these customers could never afford to pay, resulting in defaults and negative ratings on consumers’ credit reports,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. In March 2015, a coalition of 34 attorneys general opened an investigation into Santander — the largest subprime auto financing company in the — after receiving an increase in consumer complaints on subprime auto loans. The coalition alleged that Santander – through use of credit scoring models that could forecast the risk of borrower default – knew that certain groups of consumers would have a high likelihood of default.
Seven in 10 people rely on peer-to-peer payment apps to transfer money in a quick and easy manner, according to an AARP survey. It also found that about half believe they’re able to reclaim money sent in error. While the platforms are convenient, the difficulty of recovering funds sent through them makes the technology, and those who use it, uniquely vulnerable to scammers, said Kathy Stokes, AARP director of Fraud Prevention Programs. This may especially be the case as more people use delivery services for groceries and other necessities during the coronavirus pandemic. “We know scammers are already capitalizing on anxieties and fears around coronavirus,” Stokes said. “With so many people at home, consumers should be alert for possible scams on peer-to-peer payment platforms.”
Funeral guidelines in New York show the need for consumers to be aware of their rights during coronavirus pandemic times
If you lose a loved one and need to arrange for funeral services in the coronavirus pandemic era, be sure to find out your rights as well as to compare prices. For example, rules may be changing for cremation and burial. In New York, Attorney General Letitia James issued guidelines Saturday to protect New Yorkers using funeral homes and reminded funeral homes that the office will take action against any business that violates consumer rights. Those arranging funerals should be aware of requirements and recent executive orders and emergency regulations that impact funerals and funeral arrangements in the following ways:
Progressive Leasing will pay $175 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges it misled consumers about the price of items purchased through its plans. The company markets rent-to-own payment plans at more than 24,000 retail locations – including stores such as Best Buy, Lowe’s, Big Lot’s, and Kay Jewelers – in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Consumers who visited retailers to buy items such as furniture, jewelry, or cellphones were often told that Progressive’s payment plans were “same as cash” or “no interest” – leading consumers to believe they wouldn’t be charged more than an item’s sticker price, according to the FTC’s lawsuit filed Monday. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, consumers paid more than the sticker price, and often paid about twice the sticker price if they made all scheduled payments under the plans. When consumers were presented with the terms of Progressive’s offers, they were shown the “cash price” of the item, as well as the cost of their initial payment and each periodic payment.
With the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the United States, government leaders and health care providers are frantically working to find enough gloves, masks, ventilators, and other medical equipment. However, an investigation by ProPublica and others shows that suppliers are using the crisis to increase prices exorbitantly. According to the ProPublica story, New York, one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, has struggled to deal with skyrocketing prices of medical equipment including: 20 cents for gloves that would otherwise cost less than a nickel. $7.50 each for masks – about 15 times the usual price. $2,795 for infusion pumps, more than twice the regular cost. $248,841 for a portable X-ray machine that usually sells for $30,000 to $80,000. “Every mask and surgical glove could prevent the transmission of this dangerous virus," said Matt Wellington, Public Health Campaigns Director for U.S. PIRG. "Every ventilator and oxygen tank could save a life. A fractured supply process is forcing states and hospitals to bid against each other to save the lives of their citizens and patients.”