OnGuard Online Blog

Happy Mother’s Day from the FTC

Last Mother’s Day, my kids “helped” serve me breakfast in bed. No sooner had the word “surprise” left their lips than they were scrambling onto the bed to see what they could eat. After all, moms are always going on about sharing, right?

Why not show off some of your own sharing skills this Mother’s Day when you talk to the kids in your life? Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online is a free guide from the FTC that has some important information and terrific tips to share with your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews.

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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.

“Pending FTC complaint” emails are fakes

Have you gotten an email with the subject line “Pending consumer complaint” that looks like it came from the FTC? The email warns that a complaint against you has been filed with the FTC. It asks you to click on a link or attachment for more information or to contact the FTC.

These emails pull out all the stops to look official: They have an FTC seal, references to the “Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)” and a “formal investigation,” and what look like real FTC links. The truth is that they’re fakes.

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

It’s not your day in court

“Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of Tallahassee in April 02, 2014 at 09:00 am.” Signed, the Clerk to the Court. Sound official?

Like the fake funeral notices we wrote about recently, emails like this have been going around trying to convince concerned — or curious — people to click on the supposed “court notice.”

Don’t do it.

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

Let’s celebrate Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. Today, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has a post on the White House Council on Women and Girls blog called Ensuring a Level Playing Field for Women Consumers. Check it out.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

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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FTC hosts Twitter chat to answer consumer questions

To highlight National Consumer Protection Week, the FTC will host a Twitter chat to answer consumers’ questions about common scams on Tuesday, March 4 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

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