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.
Earlier this week, we wrote about a recent twist in so-called scareware schemes, where scammers send alarming messages to try to convince you that your computer is infected with viruses or other malware. Then, they try to sell you software to fix the problem. At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.
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.
Been reading up on Apple’s newly unveiled iPhone 5? So have scammers.
For months leading up to the announcement, scammers have already been finding ways to cash in on iPhone 5 buzz — through phishing emails promising sneak peeks if you just clicked on a link, or phony texts offering a chance to get your hands on one. According to news reports, clicking the links installed malware on your computer, or took you to a phony site asking for your personal information.
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.
The Department of Justice, Civil Division, Consumer Protection Branch
The pitch is simple. You receive a call from a foreign lottery announcing that you have won money, a car and other prizes. The caller tells you that you entered a contest: a form you submitted in the mail, or on the internet, or while shopping. You have won, but you must pay taxes, insurance and other up-front fees in order to get your prize into the United States. Despite several payments totaling thousands of dollars, you never receive the prizes promised to you.
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.