Blog topic: Be Smart Online

Staying current: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

You may have heard about them in the news, through one of your favorite online shopping sites, or from a friend who always has the latest scoop on technology trends: cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are a way to buy things online — or in person, using a mobile app — with sellers who agree to accept them.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Answering the call about mobile tech

Have you ever snagged a great deal right from your tablet? Or maybe you’ve donated to a charity from your phone? Then you know first-hand that mobile technologies give us unprecedented efficiency and convenience. The FTC is addressing the issues that affect consumers as new mobile technologies come on the scene. The Commission has sued companies that have broken the law, held workshops about mobile commerce, and issued several reports documenting the state of mobile privacy, security, and consumer protection.

So when our sister agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put out a call to learn more about financial services and mobile technology, especially as used by underserved consumers, the FTC lent its support and sent comments. Here are some of the points we highlighted about the challenges consumers face when using mobile financial services.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Data breaches, credit freezes, and identity theft… oh my!

News reports of large-scale data breaches — like this week’s announcement from Home Depot — have prompted some of our readers to ask about a credit freeze. Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

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

How to say scram to crammed charges on your mobile bill

If you are budget-conscious, you’re probably great at tracking where your money goes every month. You pore over receipts, take advantage of sales, and even research prices on big-ticket items to save the most. So how often do you review your mobile phone bill for fraudulent charges that could be draining your wallet?

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