Blog topic: Be Smart Online

Share the National Consumer Protection Week video

National Consumer Protection Week — March 2-8 this year — is a time to highlight free consumer resources that help people avoid scams, prevent identity theft and make more informed buying decisions.

Bad call, coach

Ever thought about responding to an enticing email or ad saying you could make money working from home? Then you might be interested to hear about the FTC’s case against the Coaching Department and its related companies, which the FTC alleges strung people along in a three-part scam that raked in tens of millions of dollars. For out-of-work people who got caught up in this business opportunity scam, it was a problem that went from bad to worse.

Back, back, back it up

You’ve heard it a million times: Don’t click on links in an email unless you know who sent it and what it is.

But sometimes the link in an email is just so darned convenient. For example, you ship a package to a friend, and then you get an email with a link to track the delivery. It’s safe to click that link, right?

Maybe not.

Cryptolocker Ransom Note

When your phone speaks volumes

People share information about themselves every day by using store loyalty cards, internet search engines, social networking sites, and online coupons. Many people — like the character in this video — decide that the benefits of these services are worth sharing some personal information with businesses, ad networks, and others.

But what if you shared information simply by walking through your local mall with your phone? What if businesses used your phone’s Wi-Fi signal to track your movements through their stores? And what if they did it without your knowledge or okay?  The FTC plans to raise those questions in a seminar on Mobile Device Tracking on February 19, 2014. It’s the first event of our Spring Privacy Series.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Fake funeral notice can be deadly — for your computer

Scam artists are forever trying to trick people into clicking on links that will download malware to their computers. But the latest scam takes the tricks to a new low. Scammers are sending bogus emails with the subject line "funeral notification." The message appears to be from a legitimate funeral home, offers condolences, and invites you to click on a link for more information about the upcoming "celebration of your friend’s life service." But instead of sending you to the funeral home's website, the link sends you to a foreign domain where the scammers download malware to your computer.

Malware, short for “malicious software," includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

A text message that’s no prize

A free iPad?! A $1,000 gift card? And all for clicking on a “YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR A PRIZE” text message you got out of the blue?

When a Business Doesn’t Protect Your Information

Say someone searched your name online. What do you think they’d find? What if some clicking brought them to things like your medical history, notes from psychiatric sessions or kids’ medical exams, or your Social Security and driver’s license number?

If you don’t like the sound of that, you might be interested to know that the FTC has announced a settlement with GMR Transcription Services, a company that promised “Security Measures to Protect Your Confidentiality,” for failing to protect personal information.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

An Online Payday Loan Or Window To A Scam?

Strapped for cash? You might think an online payday loan is a quick and easy way to help stretch your money. But before you enter your bank account or any other personal information on a payday loan website, back away from the keyboard! That online payday loan might be a window to a scam.

Data Privacy: Taking It Personally

Quick. In 2012, what was the number one complaint submitted to the FTC?

You guessed it: Identity theft. And it has been the number one complaint for 13 years straight.

That makes Data Privacy Day the ideal time to think about how you can protect your identity.

Latanya Sweeney, the FTC’s Chief Technologist, recently told us that something as simple as an online resume could be a treasure trove for identity thieves. It turns out that a web search can reveal the names, Social Security numbers, and birthdates of thousands of people because this information appears in many online resumes.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

An Unfortunate Fact About Shopping

Another day, another announcement about a data breach.

As news trickles out about retailers that have been hacked, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. Even if you’re not sure that your accounts have been affected, you can do a few things to protect your accounts, your money, and your credit reputation.

a shopper hands over a credit card

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