OnGuard Online Blog

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

Kids under 13 can’t Yelp it

If you have children under 13, do you know about COPPA — the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act? Websites and services covered by COPPA must get your consent before they collect personal information from your child, and they must honor your choices about how that information is used.

That’s why Yelp — the online review service — is getting less than five stars from the FTC.

COPPA logo

Let’s talk about online safety

The new school year is in full swing and National Cyber Security Awareness Month is around the corner. What better time to talk to the kids in your life about online safety. Many of our readers are doing just that — and using Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online as the basis for the conversation.

Over 1 million copies of the new Net Cetera have been distributed throughout the U.S. since January 2014. Time and time again, our readers have told us they think Net Cetera is a valuable tool.  

 

Preventing fraud in everyone’s community

What defines “community”? Is it where you live? Your racial or ethnic identity? Your age? Your income? Whether you’ve served in the military? The concept of community can be very personal.

Regardless of how you define your community, the FTC cares about stopping scams you deal with, and preventing others from taking root. The FTC is hosting a workshop on October 29, 2014, called “Fraud Affects Every Community.”

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

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.

Company promised fake FTC refunds

You got a robocall from someone working with the FTC with a message that promised to help you get a refund from the agency. If you ever lost money to a scam, it might have been a tough call to ignore. Turns out ignoring the call would have been the right call because — you guessed it: it was a scam.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Kids’ in-app spending on Android? Parents didn’t app-rove

Ever hand your smartphone over to your kids? You probably didn’t think it could be a hundred-dollar decision — but for some parents, it was.

Today the FTC announced that Google is settling charges that it allowed kids to spend money in apps without their parent’s permission.

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.

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