The Whistleblower blog was started in 2008. Look for posts by these contributors: James Eli Shiffer, Jane Friedmann, Brandon Stahl, Eric Roper and Alejandra Matos. | Check out the Whistleblower archive.
The Star Tribune's journalists need your help blowing the whistle in Minnesota. Contact us here.
Two people who posed as employees of major software-security companies and convinced consumers to pay hundreds of dollars to fix nonexistent computer viruses or other software problems, have agreed to cease operation and surrender their assets, according to the Federal Trade Commission Friday.
Mikael Marczak, doing business as Virtual PC Solutions, and Sanjay Agarwalla deceived consumers into believing their computers had been infected or had other problems and then pretended to remotely fix the problems.
Marczak, a Californian, and his business Conquest Audit was also found to have used telemarketing to sell debt relief services, in violation of federal law, the FTC said.
Agarwalla, of San Diego, must pay a $3,000 fine, the total amount he allegedly made from the scheme.
A judgment of $984,721 against Marczak and Conquest Audit, which represents the total amount consumers lost in the schemes, was entered, but is stayed "due to their inability to pay the full amount," the FTC said. Marczak and Conquest Audit will instead "surrender almost all of their existing assets."
Apparently a fake order confirmation email from "Wallmart," (notice the two L's) is making the rounds. Throughout the email, Walmart is also spelled properly.
Whistleblower, the individual, received a confirmation for an $898 3D HD TV with free shipping and $62.86 in tax. The order was to be sent to Alexis Young at 1822 Cotton Avenue, San Paolo, AL.
Whistleblower, the entity, received a confirmation for the same product, this time to be shipped to Chase Lopez at 1868 Cotton St., Pasadena, CA.
The email contains a number of links. You should resist the urge to click on any of them, which could expose your computer to malicious software or result in an attempt to convince you to provide personal, financial or account information.
Whistleblower, the individual, is checking with Walmart to see whether it wants consumers to forward the email to it.
If taking an item back to a store and asking for a refund doesn't put cash back in your pocket, there are other ways to convince a retailer to see it your way. The Federal Trade Commission provides this advice.
It's best to try to return the product as quickly as possible. Many businesses have return policies with time restrictions. Those are often printed on your receipt. Calmly explain the problem and escalate to a superviser if necessary.
If that doesn't work, call customer service, if the company has such a department. The company's headquarters may be more amenable to authorizing a return. Try the manufacturer if the product is defective.
Post a complaint on the company's social media site. "Your post will be most effective if you use a reasonable tone and explain the problem clearly," the FTC says.
Write a letter. Be civil, include all information and state exactly what you want. You may want to send the letter by certified mail and request a return receipt, the FTC advises. The FTC provides a sample letter you can use as guidance.
Get outside help. File a complaint with the attorney general's office, the Better Business Bureau and the FTC. Seek mediation or arbitration as an alternative to going to court.
A California company that provides robocalling transmission services to its clients has agreed to terminate contracts with clients who violate federal telemarketing laws, according to an announcement by the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday.
Skyy Consulting, Inc., doing business as CallFire, "either knew, or consciously avoided knowing, that their clients were violating" the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the FTC said.
The company uses computers to send pre-recorded phone calls to thousands of phones at the same time. While some robocalls are legal, such as those initiated by schools and politicians, telemarketing robocalls are illegal without a consumer's written consent.
CallFire facilitated the transmission of sales calls for insurance, debt consolidation and mortgage services and knew or should have known that calls were being made to people on the national do-not-call list, according to a complaint filed by the FTC.
While it's unclear whether any of CallFire's clients made calls allegedly from Rachel of Cardholder Services, or Stacy or the handful of other non-existent women familiar to many consumers, it's certainly possible.
CallFire must pay a $75,000 fine, review all existing and future phone messages and terminate contracts with clients who attempt to deliver illegal robocalls.
The bank sends you an email saying that it noticed a questionable transaction on your account and asks you to provide financial information in order to verify the account.
A pop-up ad says it needs your personal information to make sure you are the rightful owner of your online account.
The communiques may be legitimate, but they are most likely the work of fraudsters trying to trick you into providing sensitive data. The practice is called phishing and the Federal Trade Commission is holding a "twitter chat" on the topic at 2:00 p.m. Thursday.
To participate you must have a twitter account. For twitterers in the know, follow @FTC and use the hashtag #ChatSTC.
To take an amusing phishing-scam online quiz created by the FTC, click here. It's a little Nemo-like, but it gets the point across.
|Crime (1)||Employment (1)|
|Whistleblower (402)||Home Improvement (4)|
|Advertising claims (50)||Businesses in hot water (269)|
|Buyer beware (150)||Civil liberties (19)|
|Complaint sagas (108)||Corruption (1)|
|Dangerous products (39)||Free speech (1)|
|Government spends your money (27)||How to blow the whistle (12)|
|Loopholes (10)||Neighborhood nuisances (35)|
|Polling problems (21)||Problems on the job (14)|
|Property problems (44)||Public records (28)|
|Scams (110)||Seniors (35)|
|Whistleblowers (22)||Discrimination (3)|