Blog topic: Be Smart Online

Tips for Cyber Monday success

Each year, Cyber Monday promises unbelievable savings – but before you start snagging deals, here are some tips to help you save money and protect your personal information.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Secret Sister Gift Exchange – Don’t pay or yule be sorry

Have you already decked your halls in lights, timed to blink to the strains of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Even if you haven’t reached that level of early enthusiasm, the holiday spirit is starting to spread already. If you spend any time on social media, you may have seen posts about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange.

SSGE encourages you to mail a gift worth $10 dollars to a stranger at the top of the list. Supposedly, in return, you’ll get a pile of presents from other participants. SSGE and come-ons like it encourage you to hop on board an enticing cash- or gift-giving experience. Sounds like a good time, right? Sorry, Blitzen, stop that sleigh!

Gamers: Avoid the phishing hook

Did you ever get an email that seemed legit, but it asked you to click a link or give up some personal information? Well, if you play massive multiplayer online games, be warned: phishers are looking for ways to get those emails into your inbox.

Your online life after death

OK, so I know you don’t really want to talk about this – but here goes: we’re all going to die someday. Maybe you’ve already started thinking ahead: planning for your funeral, the care of loved ones and disposal of your property. But what about your online life? All the digital files, photos, posts and other accounts you leave behind might cause a lot of inconvenience – even fraud or identity theft – for your loved ones to clean up. Here are a few tips to figure out a plan for your online life after death.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online


You know what would go great with your pumpkin spiced treats this October? Cyber security! Okay, now that I have your attention, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to be #CyberAware. There are plenty of ways to participate.

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Can a video game app improve your vision? Let’s see…

My mom always told me that my vision would get worse from sitting too close to a screen and playing video games — not better. But according to the FTC, Carrot Neurotechnology said you could improve your vision by buying and playing its $9.99 Ultimeyes video game app. People bought the app because they believed it would help them see better, but in a case announced today, the FTC says there isn’t enough scientific proof that the app will work.

Image from Ultimeyes advertisement

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

FTC: Video reviews of Xbox One were deceptive

It’s no surprise that gamers excited about the release of a new gaming console would go online to see what people are saying about it. But they might be surprised to learn that some people who posted video reviews were paid to say positive things—and didn’t disclose that. That’s what the FTC says happened in the days leading up to the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox One, according to a complaint filed today by the agency.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

RoboKiller “kills” at DEF CON

For the second year in a row, the FTC traveled to DEF CON, an annual hacker conference, to enlist tech gurus to help fight robocalls. This year, the FTC hosted Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, which challenged contestants to create tools people could use to block and forward robocalls automatically. Forwarded calls go to a honeypot — a data collection system that researchers and investigators can use to study the calls.

Contest winners at DEF CON

Contest Winners Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles at DEF CON 23

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Too close to call

Got a question about a product or an account from a big-name online retailer that makes you want to speak directly to their customer service representative? What do you do first? Go to their website, of course. Can’t find a phone number there? Then you may do what seems like the next best thing and just type the company name into a search engine.

But the FTC warns consumers that it’s a mistake to assume that all toll-free numbers that pop up in a search are legitimate customer service lines. Some are run by scammers out to hijack your credit card number or install malware on your computer.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Card cracking: Not what it’s cracked up to be

The scam is called card cracking and it may start off innocently enough. You see a post on a social media site announcing a contest. Or maybe a webpage that claims to have a celebrity affiliation is offering a gift card giveaway.

The variations are endless, but here’s the tip-off that fraud is afoot. At some point, you’re asked for your bank account information, PIN number, or online banking credential. That’s when you can bank on the fact that those “innocent” offers aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.