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Smartphones and apps have impacted almost every aspect of our lives. From tracking personal health data to ordering takeout food to finding romance—everything, it seems, can be done with an app.

However, once you open an app on your phone, it can track your location and even record the content of your messages or social media posts. 

Last year, federal authorities disrupted one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever investigated. 

The scheme involved fraudulent telemedicine firms, medical professionals, and medical equipment companies. 

First, the good news. Consumers over the age of 60 were the least likely age group to lose money to scammers in 2018. According to “Protecting Older Consumers 2017–2018,” a new report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), older consumers recognized fraud and reported it before losing money twice as often as consumers between the ages of 20 and 59.

There is a lot of talk about the wonders of CBD—a substance derived from cannabis. It’s been touted as a cure for everything from Alzheimer’s disease and anxiety to pain management and cancer. There may be something to some of these claims, and some people who take CBD fervently believe the drug relieves what ails them. 

On the surface, social media seems wonderful. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow millions of people to reconnect with old friends, keep in touch with distant loved ones, and make new friends with similar interests. 

DNA test kits are enormously popular. Who isn’t curious about their origins and their ancestors? On another front, home DNA testing kits can now predict future risk of some serious diseases like certain types of cancer. 

Crowdfunding sites are popular these days. Just about anyone in need of money, be it for charity or for a business venture, can set up an account on websites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, or Indiegogo.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is alerting consumers that waves of “one ring” or “Wangiri” (Japanese for “one ring and drop”) robocalls are going out in waves targeting specific area codes in bursts frequently calling a single number repeatedly in the middle of the night. 

For years, I have been getting the famous phone phishing scam calls that start with “I’m calling from Microsoft and there is a problem with your computer.”

It was particularly easy for me to identify those calls as scams since I have an Apple computer, which doesn’t use a Microsoft operating system.

Every year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) releases its list of top scams perpetrated on the American public. The list is created using data from the FTC’s nationwide consumer sentinel database, which culls all the scams reported to the agency by consumers, whether by phone or via the Internet.

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Have you noticed how crowded the supplement aisle is at your local pharmacy? In the 25 years since Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate dietary supplements, the industry has seen tremendous growth. 

From all reports, the scam business is thriving. For example, in 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 3,200 complaints about social security imposter scams. In 2018, the number of similar complaints grew to over 35,000 and accounted for an over $10 million-plus loss for American consumers.