Blog topic: Be Smart Online

Playing with Fire

Ready for a discussion that’s likely to upset the whole family? First, explain these concepts to your four-year-old: online shopping accounts that are linked to your credit card, unlimited in-app charges, and store policies that state all sales final. Then, explain how the virtual coins your child uses in a game can cost real money charged instantly to your account. Sounds like fun, right?

The experience has been anything but fun for parents whose children racked up hundreds of dollars playing “free” games on the Kindle Fire.

kids playing on tablet

FTC report examines data brokers

In today’s economy, Big Data is big business. And data brokers — companies that collect consumers’ personal information and resell or share that information with others — play a key role.

Today, the Federal Trade Commission released a study of nine data brokers. These data brokers collect personal information about consumers from a wide range of sources — including public records, loyalty cards, websites and social media — and provide information for a wide range of purposes — including verifying someone’s identity, marketing products and detecting fraud.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Once more into the breach: What eBay users need to know

As news about the eBay hack hits the media, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. First, change your eBay password. When you create your new password, keep these tips in mind.

If you used your eBay ID or password for other accounts, change them, too. Hackers sometimes try stolen IDs and passwords on different websites to gain control of other accounts. 

Don’t confirm or provide personal information in response to an email or text, and don’t click on links in unexpected messages.

Snap. Chat. Delete?

Come on, admit it: Ever since you saw Mission: Impossible, you’ve wished you could send messages that self-destruct. Then Snapchat came along, and suddenly the impossible seemed easy. Adding a twist to photo- and video-sharing, Snapchat allows users to snap a picture, send it to a friend, and choose how long it lasts, from 1 to 10 seconds after it has been viewed. Then, poof. It disappears. Or does it?

Find Friends

Checking up on consumer generated health information

Whether it’s a website where people diagnosed with the same medical condition can share their stories or an app to find out how long it will take in the gym to burn off a Macadamia Mania Ripple sundae, consumers are taking their health in their own hands — and generating a massive amount of digital data in the process.

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Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Apple refunds

Thanks to a settlement with the FTC, Apple is refunding more than $32 million to people for in-app charges made by kids without their parent’s permission. Apple also had to change its billing practices to make sure it now gets express, informed consent from people before charging them for in-app purchases.

Getting jerked around

Do people think you’re a jerk? What if a search of your name turned up a site that seemingly answered that question for anyone to see? Meet Jerk.com.

Today the FTC charged Jerk — a supposed social networking site and reputation service — with allegedly tricking people into paying for site memberships to dispute profiles.

a graphic of a person with jerk or not a jerk buttons below it

 

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

How secure is that mobile app?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, people used phones primarily to call each other. Strange, huh?

Today, in this galaxy, many of us depend on our phones to take care of everyday tasks like waking up on time, keeping track of our calories, and sharing photos and updates. Need movie tickets? Tap, tap, and done. Want to track your credit history and get free credit scores? Yep, you can do that, too.

Unfortunately, according to the FTC, apps don’t always secure the information they send and receive, and that could lead to serious problems for users. Two companies the FTC is focusing on today: Fandango and Credit Karma. The FTC says these popular services didn’t properly secure information sent through their apps — including credit card numbers (Fandango) and Social Security numbers (Credit Karma).

diagram of a man in the middle attack

An app that does not validate its security certificate leaves users vulnerable to “man in the middle” attacks.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Welcome to NCPW 2014

Sunday marks the 16th annual National Consumer Protection Week. The Federal Trade Commission stands with 74 federal, state and local agencies and organizations to stand up for consumers by highlighting the very best in consumer education resources.

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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.

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