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.
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The Federal Trade Commission filed charges against operators of a telemarketing scheme aimed at defrauding seniors by offering phony prescription drug discount cards last week.
In the complaint, the FTC alleges that seniors across the United States were deceived into turning over their bank account numbers and used that information to take money from their accounts.
The operators, based in the United States and Canada, claimed they would send consumers a prescription drug discount card for a fee. The cards provided were already provided to senior for free by calling a toll-free number, the FTC said Monday in a news release.
The telemarketing scheme is another in a slew of scams targeting seniors. On Sunday, I wrote about scammers who are taking advantage of the confusion swirling around the Affordable Care Act. The majority of the people I spoke to for that story were seniors who had received a call from someone claiming they needed to send a new Medicare card.
The operators who are named in the complaint that are based in the United States include:
Homeowners across the state continue to received "bills" of upward of $90 for a copy of their property deeds. On Friday, Attorney General Lori Swanson's warned consumers not to fall for the scam.
The bills typically ask for the payment for a copy of a real estate deed or property profile, but homeowners can receive a copy of their deed when purchasing a home. If homeowners need to obtain another copy, they can get it for $10 from their county offices.
Swanson's warning said the "US Recorder's Office" is one entity sending bills.
A New Hope resident sent Whistleblower a copy of a bill that supposedly came from something called the "Local Records Office" on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, which is likely the address of a UPS store. The letter came with a detachable slip to be sent with the payment and a disclaimer telling homeowners they could obtain a deed from the county recorder.
To see Swanson's full warning, click here.
Nations Lending Corporation, a mortgage originator based in Ohio, was fined $500,000 for sending advertisements that claimed they were coming from a government agency and created a false sense of urgency.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce found some advertisements used prominent images of Mount Rushmore, stating “this loan is guaranteed by the federal government." Some used “prominent” references to the ads as a “Federal Relief Advisory” or fonts similar to "a historic government document."
The majority of the fine, $450,000, was stayed so long as Nations Lending Corporation’s advertisements comply with state statutes.
To see the full enforcement order click here. Attached below is a copy of one of the advertisements, sent to Whistleblower by the Department of Commerce.
A company featured as one of the top websites when typing "change address" in Google is charging up to $40 for a service that is typically free, according to the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota.
MyPostalAddressChange.com offers "fast, secure address change with the post office (USPS)." The BBB said in a warning last week that the company is charging up to $40, when consumers can change their address at a post office for free.
Consumers were deceived into believing they were dealing with the U.S. Postal Service when filling out the information on the company's website, the BBB said. The website's fine print says they are not affiliated with any government agency.
The company appears to be operating out of Australia, the BBB said.
Consumers can change their address at a post office for free, or they can visit www.usps.com, and pay a $1 identity verification fee.
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