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FTC Puts An End to Data Broker Operation that Helped Scam More Than $7 Million from Consumers’ Accounts

The Federal Trade Commission has closed the book on a data broker operation that the agency alleges got personal information from people who thought they were applying for payday loans online, and sold it to a scam that tapped consumers’ bank accounts and credit cards without their consent.

A stipulated order against Jason A. Kotzker resolves charges the FTC brought in August 2015, alleging that he and his co-defendants, instead of passing the information to legitimate payday lenders, sold it to companies like Ideal Financial Solutions Inc., which raided consumers’ accounts for at least $7.1 million. The FTC also alleged that the defendants helped Ideal Financial hide the fraud from banks.

The order prohibits Kotzker from selling or disclosing consumers’ sensitive personal information, making misrepresentations about any financial or other product or service, and profiting from consumers’ personal information and failing to dispose of it properly. It imposes a judgment of more than $7.1 million that will be partially suspended upon payment of $45,000, which represents virtually all of Kotzker’s assets.

Under settlement orders entered last year in this case, Paul T. McDonnell, Theresa D. Bartholomew, and her son, John E. Bartholomew, Jr., also are prohibited from selling or otherwise benefitting from customers’ personal information. The order against the Bartholomews imposed a $7.1 million judgment that was suspended upon payment of $15,000. The order against McDonnell imposed a judgment of more than $3.7 million, which was suspended due to his inability to pay. For all of the defendants, the full judgments will become due immediately if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

The court entered a default judgment against the corporate defendants, Sequoia One LLC and Gen X Marketing Group LLC.

The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final order against Krotzker was 3-0. The order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on November 3, 2016. The stipulated final orders against the Batholomews and McDonnell were entered on August 13, 2015. The default judgment against Sequoia One and Gen X Marketing Group was entered on November 14, 2016.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

To learn more, read Online Payday Loans.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.


Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs

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Yahoo customer service scam

Yahoo customer service scam
January 3, 2017
by Andrew Johnson
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Need to contact Yahoo customer care? There are a few ways to do so — but, Yahoo warns that phone is not an option. That’s right: any phone number you come across in an internet search, claiming to connect you with Yahoo customer care, is fake.

Here at the FTC, we’ve gotten reports that consumers who called these fake customer care numbers were offered “Yahoo customer care services” for a fee.

But the truth is, Yahoo customer support is always free of charge. That means you should never pay to have your Yahoo password reset, for technical support, or help with security concerns. Also, Yahoo won’t ask to remotely connect to your computer for any support-related request.
Tech Support Imposter Scams
Callers impersonate legitimate technical support companies to fool computer users into handing over their personal information or sending money.

For more, read about tech support scams and ways to review your Yahoo account’s security.

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Wishing you a very Happy New Year

Everyone at Pye’s Safety Spot would like to wish you a very Happy New Year 2017! We hope that you succeed and grow and become the best you have ever been.

One other thought… Be kind Man kind =

With the new year upon us , I have hope everyone in this world will learn and practice acceptance, forgiveness by understanding how our own actions affect those around us. When you are able to understand where your own anger and hate are created, how it’s trigger, then we may be at a point to understand why we choose to lash out or decide to be cruel to someone. If you don’t know why then you can’t change the how! Stand outside of yourself and see the ugliness anger creates and how it hurts never helps. Only you can make a change in you and how you treat others. Let’s be kind and understanding and helpful so we can create a great world where we can live in harmony and peacefulness together ! Humankind is Man Kind

The colors of the rainbow is the only colors that we need to be concerned with not the color of someones skin! Thank you for your time and effort




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Getting tracked online even after you try to stop it

December 20, 2016

Amy Hebert
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

How do you feel about being tracked online? Maybe you’re ok with cookies that let websites remember your preferences — like what’s in your shopping cart — from visit-to-visit or across different devices. But how about companies that use cookies and other online tracking methods to send you targeted ads?

To control this kind of targeted advertising, you might take steps like deleting cookies, limiting ads through your device settings, or downloading different ad networks’ opt-out cookies. But what if an advertising company kept tracking you anyway — despite the steps you took to control it?

That’s what happened with digital advertising company Turn, the FTC says. Today the FTC announced that Turn has agreed to settle charges it misled people about their ability to stop it from tracking them online and in mobile apps.

Turn uses cookies, web beacons, and unique device identifiers to track people online and in mobile apps. Based on the information the company gathers, it helps its clients targets ads to people based on their tastes and interests.

In its privacy policy, Turn said people could opt out of tracking by deleting cookies and using the opt-out mechanism on its site. But for people who were Verizon Wireless customers from early 2013 to early 2015, it didn’t always work. Verizon attached a unique header to each customer’s web traffic. Using that header, Turn could recognize and track people even if they took steps to avoid it. Sometimes, Turn even used the header to recreate cookies people had deleted.

And what about the opt-out on Turn’s website? It turns out it only worked for browsers — not mobile apps. Turn has agreed to place clear disclosures about what information it collects and how to opt out on its website, and to respect device settings to opt out.

Read Online Tracking to learn how online tracking works, and what you can do about it.6yhyn

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Personal Safety and Security is a Mindset

Personal Safety and Security is a Mindset

A lot of people leave their personal security up to chance.  Believing that a break-in, natural catastrophe, or other safety crisis could not possibly happen to them.  By taking a proactive strategy to your own personal protection, you may better affect what happens to you, your home, as well as your family.   A residential security plan is important to protect your home, family, and possessions from intruders.  In an efficient residential security plan, all entries may have top quality locks, including doors, garage doors, as well as gates. Try by making a habit to keep the doors and windows secured at all times, even though you are at home, if you have more than one story be sure that all levels have locks on the windows.
Do not make keys to be hidden outside of your home, instead give an extra copy to a reliable relative or friend, if possible someone who lives close. Residential security plans will also be needed to help keep your valuables and property safe from natural along with other calamities. Occasionally (Annually) check your smoke detectors to ensure they’re in proper working order, and keep Candles / Safety indoor torches stored in convenient places through your home. Your behaviors are also an essential part of a home alarm system. Establish safe living practices, and vary your daily habits to prevent predictability. Get acquainted with your neighbors, and if any unusual action is spotted through your neighborhood, report it quickly to law enforcement.


One of the first steps to take is to get aquatinted with your neighbors and get involved community events, if you can. That is a good place to get to know who lives around you.
The protection of your home is particularly important whenever you plan to be away, no matter if it is just for the night or for any length of time. Arrange to have a friend or family member to pick up your mail and newspapers so it looks as if someone is at home or has been lately. Criminals frequently target houses which have papers piling up on the front step. Make sure that your home is securely locked. Close and lock all your doors, and windows. A few extra steps to take is to purchase timers or dusk sensors which will turn on automatically through the night. Consider investing in home surveillance camera systems to be able to properly monitor your residence while you’re away, as well as research smartphone controlled system that will assist you to keep an eye on the protection of the home while you’re away. When creating any personal safety plan, it’s essential that you properly educate your kids in order that they know how to keep yourself safe when you’re not around.


Here are a few things you might want to think about when looking for a Home Security System.

If you have a monthly fee for being monitored by a central station, where they would call the police if an alarm were to go off. You may be required to apply for an Alarm Permit. In most areas, your city or county government will require, the end user(you) to obtain and maintain an Alarm permit, it is a good idea to check with your local authorities before you have one installed. Alarm permits are an extra cost but they are a necessity. They are required to help control false alarms and to correctly identify the installing and service company. If the false alarms are due to faulty installation or faulty repair work, then those will be held accountable When it is the end user, is careless and makes multiple mistake, due to not learning how to use their Security System. They will end up fining you, if you have multiple false alarms you will start racking up fines usually after the 2nd or 3rd. False alarms are a waste of taxpayer money and Law Enforcement resources.

After you have a Security System that has been installed by a professional alarm company, they will show you how to properly use it. Make sure you know how before they leave, they don’t mind helping you learn just say so. Something else you need to think about is how someone could get in when you are there and when you are away, the burglar won’t just try one way they most likely try all. When you can’t stop, them detour them with hedges, lighting, or Alarm decals on the lawn or on the windows. Just a few things to think about.<

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Holiday Season Reminders

Here are a few quickie reminders-

  •  -Be cautious when throwing away the garbage and clutter from buying and wrapping those gifts. When bad guys are looking for something to steal, the garbage that accrues it is just like having a flashing neon sign over your house saying that this house might be stocked with stuff to steal. Another thought, if you like to keep your windows open so you can show off your decorations, it would be a good idea to be sure that things aren’t left out in view of someone going by.
  •  -Same goes for your vehicle, while you are shopping. I know the bags get heavy after awhile walking around, right? Well again, do not leave bags or what not out in the open in your vehicle. Either suffer thru it or put in the trunk or take them home and come back and finish another time. Out of sight out of mind
  •  -Don’t ever think that you, yes I mean you the whole person , should also stay aware of your surroundings. But that should be second nature, if not you can learn it like a bad habit.

Bad guys are around no matter what time of year it is, which is unfortunate. But until we as a whole (the human race) can create a cure for all the bad, evil or what ever you may call it, we need to be safe and stay sane by protecting what we have by simply being aware of others.

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What to do ..when you are pulled over- from the drivers handbook

Here we would like to remind you “What to do …”,



Department of Motor Vehicles


California Driver Handbook – Special Driving Situations

What a Driver Should Do During an Enforcement Stop

-Acknowledge the officer’s presence by turning on your right turn signal. Activating your signal lets the officer know that you recognize his or her presence. An officer may become alarmed if you fail to recognize him or her, and might perceive that you have a reason to avoid yielding or that you might be impaired.

-Move your vehicle to the right shoulder of the road. The officer will guide you using his or her patrol vehicle. Do not move onto the center median. Do not stop in the center median of a freeway or on the opposite side of a two-lane roadway. This places both the driver and the officer in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic.

-On a freeway, move completely onto the right shoulder, even if you’re in the carpool/HOV lane. Stop in a well lit area when possible. Pull your vehicle as far off the roadway as possible. When it is dark look for locations that have more light, such as areas with street or freeway lights, near restaurants, or service stations.

-End your cell phone conversation and turn off your radio. The officer needs your full attention to communicate with you to complete the enforcement stop in the least amount of time needed.

-Remain inside your vehicle unless otherwise directed by the officer. Never step out of your vehicle, unless an officer directs you to do so. During an enforcement stop, the officer’s priorities are your safety, the safety of your passengers, and the officer’s own personal safety. In most situations, the safest place for you and your passengers is inside your vehicle. Exiting your vehicle without first being directed by an officer can increase the risk of being struck by a passing vehicle and/or increase the officer’s level of feeling threatened.

-Place your hands in clear view, including all passengers’ hands such as on the steering wheel, on top of your lap, etc. During an enforcement stop, an officer’s inability to see the hands of the driver and all occupants in the vehicle increases the officer’s level of feeling threatened. Most violent criminal acts against a law enforcement officer occur through the use of a person’s hands, such as the use of a firearm, sharp object, etc. If your windows are tinted, it is recommended that you roll down your windows after you have stopped your vehicle on the right shoulder of the roadway and before the officer makes contact with you.

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The FTC fights international scams

October 27, 2016

If you have a phone, you’ve probably heard from an IRS imposter — someone claiming you owe thousands of dollars and better pay up immediately, or else terrible things will happen. In the last nine months, more than 111,000 of you reported calls like that to the FTC, and dozens wrote blog comments about callers with South Asian accents posing as IRS agents. Your reports provide crucial information to law enforcement about scam tactics, trends and locations.

The FTC aggressively sues scammers who operate across borders and target people in the US with imposter schemes. For example, a federal court recently temporarily shut down and froze the assets of a tech support operation that directed people to call a boiler room in India for computer help, then pressured them to spend $200 to $400 for useless repair services. That case was one of a dozen similar cases brought by the FTC.

The FTC also works with agencies worldwide to boost cooperation against cross border scams. Next month, staff from the Commission’s Office of International Affairs will meet for the fifth time with industry, trade groups, law enforcement and tech experts to continue efforts to thwart fraudsters operating in India. A recent police raid on nine call centers in India shows the benefit of collaboration.

If you get an unexpected call about a “tax debt,” remember: if the IRS needs to reach you, it will send a letter. Don’t give the caller any financial or personal information, and don’t send payment by money transfer, debit card or iTunes card. Hang up, and report the call to the FTC and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

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The top three ways to avoid fraud

August 26, 2016


Jennifer Leach
Assistant Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education
In pretty much every article and blog post we put out, you’ll find tips to help you avoid scams. The idea is that, if you can spot a scam, and know how to avoid it, you and your money are more likely to stay together.

Today, we’re releasing a brochure that distills those tips down to the top 10 ways to avoid fraud. This brochure – available online and in print – is your one-stop resource to help you spot imposters, know what to do about robocalls, and how to check out a scammer’s claims.

Here are three things that can help you avoid scammers who try to call you:

Hang up on robocalls. If you pick up the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal. And plentiful. Don’t press 1, 2 or any number to get off a list or speak to a person. That just means you’ll get even more calls.
Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers can make caller ID look like anyone is calling: the IRS, a business or government office…even your own phone number. If they tell you to pay money for any reason, or ask for your financial account numbers, hang up.  If you think the caller might be legitimate, call back to a number you know is genuine – not the number the caller gave you.
Talk to someone. Before you give up money or information, talk to someone you trust. Scammers want you to make decisions in a hurry. Slow down, check out the story, search online – or just tell a friend. We find that people who talk to someone – anyone – are much less likely to fall for a scam.
For seven more tips to help protect yourself and loved ones from fraud, read on – or order your free copies of 10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud to share in your community. And if you spot something that looks like a scam, report it to the FTC.