OnGuard Online Blog

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.

Bad call, coach

Ever thought about responding to an enticing email or ad saying you could make money working from home? Then you might be interested to hear about the FTC’s case against the Coaching Department and its related companies, which the FTC alleges strung people along in a three-part scam that raked in tens of millions of dollars. For out-of-work people who got caught up in this business opportunity scam, it was a problem that went from bad to worse.

Mystery shopper scam strikes again

It sounds pretty good: you walk into a store like any other customer. Then 20 minutes later, you’re done, ready to write a report that will earn you $50. And then you can do it again.

If Shopper Systems and some companies like it were to be believed, mystery shopping jobs like this were not only widely available, but could generate “insane profit.” All for just $2.95 for training and a week’s trial, then $49.95 a month after that for an up-to-date list of interested retailers — and you’d be free to cancel any time.

But they couldn’t be believed, the FTC says.

picture of shopping bags

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Back, back, back it up

You’ve heard it a million times: Don’t click on links in an email unless you know who sent it and what it is.

But sometimes the link in an email is just so darned convenient. For example, you ship a package to a friend, and then you get an email with a link to track the delivery. It’s safe to click that link, right?

Maybe not.

Cryptolocker Ransom Note

Random text message? No real prize is waiting for you

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Don’t reply to — or click on — a link for a random text message you see on your phone saying that you’ve won a prize, gift card or an expensive electronic like an iPad. It’s most likely a scam.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

When your phone speaks volumes

People share information about themselves every day by using store loyalty cards, internet search engines, social networking sites, and online coupons. Many people — like the character in this video — decide that the benefits of these services are worth sharing some personal information with businesses, ad networks, and others.

But what if you shared information simply by walking through your local mall with your phone? What if businesses used your phone’s Wi-Fi signal to track your movements through their stores? And what if they did it without your knowledge or okay?  The FTC plans to raise those questions in a seminar on Mobile Device Tracking on February 19, 2014. It’s the first event of our Spring Privacy Series.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Fake funeral notice can be deadly — for your computer

Scam artists are forever trying to trick people into clicking on links that will download malware to their computers. But the latest scam takes the tricks to a new low. Scammers are sending bogus emails with the subject line "funeral notification." The message appears to be from a legitimate funeral home, offers condolences, and invites you to click on a link for more information about the upcoming "celebration of your friend’s life service." But instead of sending you to the funeral home's website, the link sends you to a foreign domain where the scammers download malware to your computer.

Malware, short for “malicious software," includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Reset a resolution for Safer Internet Day

It’s been 42 days since New Year’s. Have you broken any resolutions? Safer Internet Day is the perfect day for a “replacement” resolution.

A text message that’s no prize

A free iPad?! A $1,000 gift card? And all for clicking on a “YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR A PRIZE” text message you got out of the blue?

When a Business Doesn’t Protect Your Information

Say someone searched your name online. What do you think they’d find? What if some clicking brought them to things like your medical history, notes from psychiatric sessions or kids’ medical exams, or your Social Security and driver’s license number?

If you don’t like the sound of that, you might be interested to know that the FTC has announced a settlement with GMR Transcription Services, a company that promised “Security Measures to Protect Your Confidentiality,” for failing to protect personal information.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

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