Blog topic: Be Smart Online


You know what would go great with your pumpkin spiced treats this October? Cyber security! Okay, now that I have your attention, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to be #CyberAware. There are plenty of ways to participate.

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Can a video game app improve your vision? Let’s see…

My mom always told me that my vision would get worse from sitting too close to a screen and playing video games — not better. But according to the FTC, Carrot Neurotechnology said you could improve your vision by buying and playing its $9.99 Ultimeyes video game app. People bought the app because they believed it would help them see better, but in a case announced today, the FTC says there isn’t enough scientific proof that the app will work.

Image from Ultimeyes advertisement

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

FTC: Video reviews of Xbox One were deceptive

It’s no surprise that gamers excited about the release of a new gaming console would go online to see what people are saying about it. But they might be surprised to learn that some people who posted video reviews were paid to say positive things—and didn’t disclose that. That’s what the FTC says happened in the days leading up to the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox One, according to a complaint filed today by the agency.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

RoboKiller “kills” at DEF CON

For the second year in a row, the FTC traveled to DEF CON, an annual hacker conference, to enlist tech gurus to help fight robocalls. This year, the FTC hosted Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, which challenged contestants to create tools people could use to block and forward robocalls automatically. Forwarded calls go to a honeypot — a data collection system that researchers and investigators can use to study the calls.

Contest winners at DEF CON

Contest Winners Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles at DEF CON 23

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Too close to call

Got a question about a product or an account from a big-name online retailer that makes you want to speak directly to their customer service representative? What do you do first? Go to their website, of course. Can’t find a phone number there? Then you may do what seems like the next best thing and just type the company name into a search engine.

But the FTC warns consumers that it’s a mistake to assume that all toll-free numbers that pop up in a search are legitimate customer service lines. Some are run by scammers out to hijack your credit card number or install malware on your computer.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Card cracking: Not what it’s cracked up to be

The scam is called card cracking and it may start off innocently enough. You see a post on a social media site announcing a contest. Or maybe a webpage that claims to have a celebrity affiliation is offering a gift card giveaway.

The variations are endless, but here’s the tip-off that fraud is afoot. At some point, you’re asked for your bank account information, PIN number, or online banking credential. That’s when you can bank on the fact that those “innocent” offers aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

It’s criminal

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the extradition of six Nigerian nationals from South Africa to Mississippi to face a nine-count federal indictment for various Internet frauds. These six people join 15 others who were previously charged with, among other things, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

What were the scams? According to the indictment, the defendants found and reached out to their potential victims through online dating websites and work-at-home opportunities.

Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks? They’re looking to steal your money.

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Did you book that night at the hotel’s site?

Whether you travel a lot or just a little, you’ve probably gone online to book a hotel stay. Sometimes you might find a travel comparison site gets you the best deal. Other times, you might book directly at a hotel’s website — maybe to earn points for the company’s reward program, or because you have some special requests for your stay.

For those times you’re looking to book directly with a hotel, make sure that’s what you’re doing. The FTC has heard from people who searched online and thought they were booking on a hotel website, only to find they’d unknowingly been doing business with someone else.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Public Wi-Fi Networks

Whether in a hotel or airport across the world, or in the coffee shop just down the street, chances are you’ve used free Wi-Fi hotspots. While convenient, they’re often unsecure. So how can you reduce your risk? Encryption — having your information scrambled into code — is key to staying secure online.

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Blog Topic: Be Smart Online