Blog topic: Be Smart Online

Is your phone a prized possession?

Let’s be honest: I spend more time playing games on my smart phone than talking on it. Our phones have become our family photo albums, personal gaming systems, calendars, encyclopedias, navigators, and instant messengers. If you can think of an activity, there’s probably an app for it.

Unfortunately, some apps might not be what they claim, and downloading the wrong app could put your phone on the fritz. According to the FTC, that’s what happened to thousands of people who downloaded the Prized app before it was removed from the app store.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Before paying with bitcoins…

If you shop online — and who doesn’t? — you might notice that some websites let you pay with bitcoins. Virtual or crypto currencies like Bitcoin can be a fast way to pay online, or in person with a mobile app.

But using virtual currencies comes with risk. Their value goes up and down — sometimes sharply — depending on demand. In addition, payments made with virtual currencies aren’t reversible and don’t have the same legal protections as some traditional payment methods. Once you hit send, you can’t get your money back unless the seller agrees. That’s why it’s important to know who you’re buying from and what policies they have regarding refunds, returns, and disputes.

Shopping Online with Virtual Currencies

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Email from OPM – is it the real deal?

You just got an email saying your information was exposed in the OPM data breach. Wondering whether the email is the real deal or not? Here are a few things to look for.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

OPM data breach – what should you do?

A data breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – and you’re a current or former federal employee whose personal information may have been exposed. What should you do? Take a deep breath. Here are the steps to take.
Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Paying your friends through an app? Read this.

Imagine you’re at a restaurant with your friend. She pays the check, and says you can pay her back. Do you:
a) write an IOU on a napkin?
b) pull out a wad of cash and give her exact change?
c) take out your phone and pay her through a mobile payment app?

If you answered c), this post is for you.

Like apps that let you pay at stores with your phone, “peer-to-peer” payment services can be a convenient way to pay friends. But before you use one — or use one again — check the app’s settings for available security features.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Can debt collectors message you for money?

It could start with an unexpected text message or email like this:


Hold on. The message is a lie. You don’t have payment arrangements with anyone. So who’s messaging you for money?

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

A friendly reminder

Just a friendly reminder...if you haven’t changed your passwords in a while, today is a great day to do it. Why? Because it’s Password Day!

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Spammy, phony weight loss promises

You get an email from a friend, with a link and a message: “Hi! Oprah says it’s excellent!” But did your friend really send this message? And what’s so excellent?

Millions of people got emails like this one, but not from their friends. Instead, according to the FTC, marketers hired by Sale Slash sent spam emails from hacked email and social media accounts. Why? To trick people into thinking the messages came from a friend. And, of course, to sell stuff.


Privacy matters

Did you know that May 3-9, 2015 is Privacy Awareness Week? It’s an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum.

Privacy Awareness Week highlights the importance of protecting your personal information. This year’s theme is Privacy Matters — a message we promote year-round at the FTC. Whether you’re at home, work, school, or a doctor’s office — there are things you can do to help keep your information private and safe.

Privacy matters image

Money back guarantee hid another fee

Starting a new business? That used to mean throwing a name on some brick and mortar. Nowadays, you need a website. Lots of companies sell domain names and web hosting services that let customers put up websites. It pays to go with one that spells out all the terms and conditions before you buy. But what if a company promises a refund as part of its 30-day money back guarantee — and then surprises you with a nonrefundable fee? That’s called deception.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online