What Killen was referring to is a new phone scam that targets unsuspecting individuals when they answer their phones. A robo-voice offers a warm, friendly greeting to confuse the listener into thinking they know who it is. Next, the caller asks, “Can you hear me?” hoping the respondent will say, “yes.”
That would be the wrong response. Killen explained, “What is happening with the new phone technology is that all the scammers need to do is capture the word ‘yes.’ You could be sold solar paneling, sign up for a cruise or have someone come to your house to clean your chimney.
“And then, after you’ve said yes,” Killen said,” they will say, ‘Do you want solar paneling?’ Well, they already have your ‘yes,’ and they will insert your response into the part of the conversation that would have you agreeing to purchase whatever they are selling.”
Killen added, “Since you said yes to their offer, they can send someone over to install your solar paneling. Or they will ask if you want to go on a cruise. Again, they will take your ‘yes’ and insert it into the agreement, so you will have essentially agreed to be booked on a cruise.”
The solution is not to be so nice. “You don’t have to slam the phone down,” Killen said, “just hang up. Even if it sounds like a robo-call, they are capturing what you are saying on your end and they will use it against you.”
The best advice, according to Killen, is to not say anything and quickly hang up on the caller.
2016 UPDATED CHART — A car title loan is a short-term cash loan, secured by the borrower’s title to a vehicle. State laws determine whether car title loans are authorized, the terms of the loans, and consumer protections for the loan or repossession of the vehicle if a borrower cannot repay in full when the loan is due.
CFA categorizes the legal status of car title lending, depending on whether this loan product is specifically authorized, whether title lending operates through legal loopholes, or are effectively prohibited.
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Consumer and Civil Rights Groups Urge CFPB to Strengthen Payday and Car Title Lending RuleOctober 7, 2016 | Testimony & Comments
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalizes a proposed rule to address payday, vehicle title, and other certain high-cost installment loans, Consumer Federation of America and other consumer and civil rights groups have offered comments to improve and strengthen the rule. The proposed rule marks the culmination of over four years of extensive information gathering and data analysis by the Bureau. We thank and commend the CFPB for this work, which has resulted in a robust record of evidence that strongly supports taking regulatory action to address unfair and abusive practices in this market.
As the CFPB’s proposal makes clear, the record supports a rule rooted in the fundamental principle that lenders should make a reasonable determination that a borrower has the ability to repay a loan before making it. But the record also supports a stronger rule in several critical respects; indeed, it provides ample evidence that stronger protections are necessary to prevent unfair and abusive practices.
Our recommendations are informed by five principal evidence-based concerns. Together, these concerns form the lens through which we view each proposed provision. The CFPB shares these concerns, and yet we fear that they are not consistently assigned the weight they warrant.
Click here to view an executive summary of CFA’s comments to the CFPB regarding the proposed rule
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With so many warnings about Internet fraud these days it’s easy to forget that some scammers are still using the mail to try to reach into our wallets – and succeeding. Americans are receiving tons of bogus solicitations in their mailboxes and losing millions. That’s why CFA has joined other organizations and government agencies in a campaign to raise public awareness about “mass mailing fraud.”
Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Justice shut down a scheme in which letters from so-called psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Geurin were sent to individuals across the country, claiming that a vision or a psychic reading had revealed that they were in line to achieve great wealth. The letters were personalized, but in fact they were mass-produced and mailed to tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every month. To ensure that this good fortune would come to pass, the recipients were urged to buy various products and services. More than a million Americans, many of them elderly or in financial distress, did so, netting the crooks in excess of $180 million. The defendants were from around the globe – Canada, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and France.
Another recent case, which is still being litigated by the DOJ, also has international dimensions, as fraud often does. In this one, the letters stated that the recipients had won, or were about to win, cash or valuable prizes. To claim their winnings they were instructed to send a “processing fee” or payment for some kind of product or service to post office boxes in the Netherlands. Again, though the letters were personalized, they were mass-mailed to U.S. residents. It’s estimated that the scammers made more than $18 million annually.
Today the DOJ announced several more actions against mass mailing fraudsters and the companies they used to obtain lists of potential victims, prepare and send the letters, and process the payments. Some of the defendants are located in the U.S., some in other countries; one was arrested at JFK International Airport as he was about to board a plane for his native Turkey. Other federal and state law enforcement agencies also brought actions as part of a coordinated effort to combat this fraud.
Fact: No one who sends money in response to these types of letters ever gets the promised riches.
The only people who profit are the scammers. But the mailings look so convincing. They use many of the same techniques as legitimate marketers: marking the envelopes “Urgent,” using words such as “official,” addressing the recipient by name, creating a sense of excitement and exclusivity, and demanding immediate action. If people stopped to think about it, they’d realize that psychics don’t send letters out of the blue to strangers, and legitimate sweepstakes companies and lotteries don’t contact people by regular mail to notify them that they’ve won. They certainly don’t ask people to pay or buy something to claim their winnings. That’s illegal and a definite red flag of fraud.
It’s important to report these mailings to law enforcement agencies so they can try to locate and stop the scammers from continuing to victimize people. Even when they are able to take action, however, it’s not always possible to recover the money. The best way to prevent mass mailing fraud is by making sure that everyone recognizes the danger signs and knows that sending money is a losing proposition. Check out the sample solicitations, the flyer, and the tips on how mail fraud scams work and what to do. More information is at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch/mass-mailing-fraud. Now that you know the score, help to prevent mass mailing fraud by passing the information on!
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Washington, D.C. — After recalling 29 million dressers that can too easily tip over and crush young children, Ikea is now defying a court order by failing to share its internal records about these hazardous products. ThePhiladelphia Inquirer has reported that the company, which manufactures and sells its own furniture, was required by August 19 to turn over this information to attorneys for the mother of a two-year-old boy who was killed by an Ikea dresser in 2014. Ikea chests and dressers are linked to six children’s deaths and 36 children’s injuries.
Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and Kids In Danger issued the following joint statement:
“Ikea sold millions of unstable dressers with a tip-over hazard that led to the deaths of at least six toddlers and continues to place countless children at risk. It resisted a recall for too long. And now it isn’t sharing internal records about these products.”
“While Ikea has been arguing that turning over the documents would harm CPSC’s recall process, we are concerned that the company’s record of pushing back against regulator and court requests to increase safety and transparency is putting consumers at risk. We urge Ikea to improve transparency and put consumer safety first.”
“Given the massive size of this recall and the lack of any data so far about how well it is working, we urge Ikea to work to ensure that consumers effectively remove the unstable dressers from their home as soon as possible and continue to cooperate with regulators to share all safety-related records about this hazard. This information could prove critical to motivating quick action and broader participation in the recall.”
The Inquirer reported that the records at issue come from the company’s negotiations with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over the June recall, and include photos and videos of internal Ikea testing and “items that might shed light on how widespread a threat Ikea dressers have posed.” The company could face fines or other penalties for failing to comply with the court’s order to turn over the documents.
According to the CPSC, one child dies every two weeks and one child is sent to the emergency room every 24 minutes from furniture or TVs tipping over. Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and Kids In Danger support the CPSC’s Anchor It! campaign to minimize furniture and appliance tip-over hazards and urge consumers with recalled dressers to take immediate action to prevent a tragedy in their home.
Contact: Rachel Weintraub, CFA 202- 387-6121; Nancy Cowles, KID 312-595-0649; William Wallace, CU 202-462-6262
Consumer Federation of America is an association of nearly 300 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.
Consumers Union is the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.
Kids In Danger (KID) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety. KID’s mission is to promote the development of safer products, advocate for children and educate parents and caregivers about dangerous children’s products.
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