The charges outlined in the FTC’s recent lawsuits against one software business and seven rent-to-own companies are surprising — some might even say creepy. These companies installed software on rented computers that gave them the ability to hit the “kill switch” if people were behind on their payments. But according to the FTC, it also let them collect sensitive personal information, grab screen shots, and take webcam photos of people in their homes.
Like the character in the 70s movie “Network,” many people are “mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.” What’s causing all this anger? Robocalls. Yes, those annoying pre-recorded messages that try to sell you something you don’t need. You may have heard, for example, from the infamous “Rachel” from “Card Member Services” whose recorded voice promises she can reduce the interest rate on your credit cards.
The Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a massive international scam that tricked tens of thousands of computer users into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then paying the scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” the problem.
Today, we are more linked, networked, and wired than ever before. Not only do we use the internet to stay connected, informed, and involved, we use it for many routine tasks, like submitting taxes, applying for student loans, and even powering our homes.
Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, FTC
Are you in the mobile app business? If so, you’re probably considering some important questions, like what to tell users about your app, what information to collect from users, and what to do with any information you collect.
There’s been a lot of talk about breaking records these past few weeks. But here’s one you won’t see on the sports pages: the FTC’s $22.5 million settlement with Google, the largest civil penalty ever against a single defendant. The penalty stems from FTC charges that Google didn’t give users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser the straight story about the use of tracking cookies. That, says the FTC, violated the terms of Google’s 2011 privacy settlement.
First, some background on the original case. Last year, the FTC sued Google for violations stemming from the roll-out of Google’s Buzz network. Among other things, the FTC said Google assured Gmail users it wouldn’t use their information for any purpose other than to provide email service, but then didn’t honor that promise. The result: an order mandating comprehensive privacy protections for consumers and civil penalties if Google didn’t live up to the terms of the settlement.
Do you know what to do if your identity is stolen? What steps can you take to protect your identity? Knowing what to do is important because an identity thief can hijack your tax refund, alter your medical records, prevent you from getting credit or a job, and even borrow money in your child's name.
Deputy Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC
Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day to learn the signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Yesterday, I participated in a day-long symposium at the White House on the role that financial exploitation plays in the wider problem of elder abuse.