Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog


A recent press release from the Department of Justice announced the largest-ever nationwide sweep of fraudsters targeting the nation's seniors.

The sweep targeted over 260 fraudsters and accounted for approximately $750 million. The DOJ's press release explained that this sweep includes 13 percent more criminals, and 28 percent more money, than last year's sweep. And while some of the same old scams were utilized, one of those scams, dubbed the tech support scam, is as scary as they come, and the DOJ had found that it was increasingly being used to target seniors.

This week is officially National Consumer Protection Week, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But here at FindLaw's Common Law blog, we do consumer protection every day, year-round. So, we've rounded up some of our best posts on avoiding online scams and staying safe on the internet.

Here you go:

Your children are going to be on the internet. Sadly, so are the scam artists. And non-savvy internet users can be easy marks for online scams. So how do you keep your kids safe on the internet?

By teaching them what online behavior to avoid and what to watch out for. Here are some of our top tips for preventing scammers from targeting and taking advantage of your children.

Don't Fall for a 'Sweetheart' Scam This Valentine's Day

It seems that everyone is looking for love, and there's nothing more motivating than being single during Valentine's Day. While love is not easy to find, finding possible love interests has become easier with the prevalence of online dating and social media.

Unfortunately, scammers have also tapped into the potential of profiting from people looking for love. The "sweetheart" scam is fairly simple: a scammer creates a fake profile to attract others and then uses emotional tactics to solicit money.

Learn to Avoid Phishing Scams With This Google Quiz

Phishing scams are getting harder and harder to spot. Gone are the days you could merely look for poor grammar or spelling errors. Evidently scammers have found software to correct those! Now, you will have to look even harder. But Google, or rather one of Alphabet's companies, Jigsaw, is here to help you with that.

The company has created an online quiz to help you learn what you know, and what you don't know, about spotting a phishing scam, as well as useful hints to take with you into your daily routine. But beware! Scammers have become much more sophisticated, and the subtle nuances can be pretty tricky! Take the quiz, and send it to your friends, to see who's the best scam spotter.

High-Profile Instagram Accounts Targeted by Hackers

To many Gen X'ers, social media influencer seems like a preposterous career. But to Millennials and beyond, it's a dream come true. Social media influencers are online personas that have established a certain level of credibility and reach among followers within a specific industry, to the point that they are able to persuade consumers to buy, or not buy, a product or service. This is big business, both to marketing firms and the influencers themselves.

According to Traackr, an influencer management platform, 72 percent of major brands say they dedicate a sizable portion of their marketing budgets to influencers. High demand influencers, such as PewDiePie and other YouTube personalities, especially those in the gaming industry, can command up to $250,000 per post. This is big money!

Consumer Protection Websites Are Down as Gov. Shutdown Continues

As the old saying goes, "problems" roll downhill, and at the bottom of The Hill's federal shutdown are consumers. Numerous governmental entities, products, and services that protect consumer interests have been shuttered. None have mentioned any date of reopening soon, as the federal government shutdown now reaches the longest in U.S. history.

Is Technology to Blame for an Increase in Car Thefts?

Some say crooks are stupid, but sometimes it's the victims. Keyless ignitions are on the rise, and so are car thefts. Many believe that the two are tied together, due car owners leaving fobs in the car in order to streamline their morning routine. But few things stall out a morning routine like a stolen car.

Court Tosses Suit Over Microplastics in Nestle Water

Cindy Baker filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles, alleging that there is a high amount of microplastics in Nestle's Pure Life bottled water, in violation of state and federal laws. The lawsuit was seeking an injunction barring Nestle from selling and advertising Pure Life water.

The judge didn't disagree with her, but did agree with Nestle that this is the wrong place to file such a claim, dismissed the suit, and recommended Baker file with the U.S. Federal and Drug Administration (FDA). The judge did grant Baker the right to amend her lawsuit, but said it had to be done in good faith, and not include and deficiencies noted in the first filing. Baker's attorney intends to file an amended lawsuit.

Don't Get Scammed Into Becoming a 'Money Mule'

If you've seen the trailer for "The Mule," starring Clint Eastwood, you pretty much get the idea of the job -- using an unsuspicious person to bring something illegal into a country. In "The Mule," the product is cocaine. But more often than not, the product is money. Money Mules are people that launder money, which means that they "clean" dirty money obtained through illegal means by having it processed in such a way that police have a hard time linking the clean money to the original crime.

Sometimes Money Mules sign up for the job, enticed by the promise of getting to keep a percentage of the money they launder. But often times, people are used unwittingly. And it can happen to anyone -- young or old, educated or not. Money launderers are evolving through trial and error, and their ways are getting trickier by the day.