August 2014

Drum roll, please…

The FTC recently attended DEF CON 22, and challenged the tech-savvy to help us zap “Rachel from Cardholder Services” and her robocall buddies. How? The agency hosted a contest to see who could develop a cutting-edge robocall honeypot — an information system designed to attract robocallers, and help researchers and investigators understand and minimize illegal calls. Today, the FTC announced the winners, who will receive a combined total of $12,000 in prizes.

A bossy business scam

You get an email from your boss’s boss requesting that you make a wire transfer to a new vendor. The email is marked urgent, so you ignore the 20 others that need your attention to take care of it. You handle wire transfers all the time, and you’ll definitely score points for responding so quickly, right? Maybe not.

In a recent scheme, sometimes called “masquerading,” a hacker poses as a senior executive and asks an employee to complete a financial transaction, like a confidential business investment or a payment to a vendor.  Once money is wired to a bogus account, it can be nearly impossible to recover.

Think it’s E-Z?

Love breezing through tollbooths with your E-Z Pass? A new scam is taking advantage of that.  

Here’s how it works: You get an email that appears to be from E-Z Pass. It has the E-Z Pass logo, and says you owe money for driving on a toll road. It also provides a link to click for your invoice. 

Guess what? The email isn’t from E-Z Pass. If you click on the link, the crooks running this scam may put malware on your machine. And if you respond to the email with your personal information, they’re likely to steal your identity.

FTC to host workshop on big data and underserved communities

With today’s technology, organizations and companies can collect and analyze massive amounts of consumer data at lightning speed. What people search online, buy in stores, and do and say on social media is information that helps companies market more efficiently. This era of "big data" may hold lots of promise – but also some pitfalls.

Next month, the FTC will explore the use of big data for marketing and other purposes.

Big Data Logo

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Russian hackers might have your info — now what?

You may have heard about it in the news: reports that Russian hackers have stolen more than a billion unique username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses, grabbed from thousands of websites. What should you do about it? We asked our resident expert, Maneesha Mithal, director of our Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Is your shopping buddy app-y?

A good shopping buddy has a sharp eye, knows the lay of the land, and can find the best deals on the products you want. A great shopping buddy might even share coupons with you.

Millions of people have found new shopping buddies — their smartphones. Shopping apps for use in brick-and-mortar stores have been downloaded millions of times.

mobile shopping apps report cover

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online