OnGuard Online Blog

Did you get a consumer complaint notification from the FTC? It’s a scam.

Thanks to emails and calls from people who sensed something wasn’t right, we’ve heard that an FTC imposter scam we’ve written about before is back.

The email tells you there’s a complaint against your business, and wants you to click on a link. Here’s what one of the scammy emails said:

Recovering from identity theft is easier with a plan

Hollywood might have you believe that identity theft means a dozen maxed out credit cards, a warrant for your arrest, and a bill for a spa appointment 2,000 miles away. But in real life, identity theft can be sneakier.

It might start with a small credit card charge you don’t recognize. Or a strange new account that shows up on your credit report. Or a letter from the IRS that says you already filed taxes this year. Only you didn’t.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

International collaboration to protect children’s privacy

The Federal Trade Commission and 27 members of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN), a group of privacy enforcement agencies around the world, are marshaling resources to protect the privacy of children online.

A friendly reminder

Just a friendly reminder...if you haven’t changed your passwords in a while, today is a great day to do it. Why? Because it’s Password Day!

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Spammy, phony weight loss promises

You get an email from a friend, with a link and a message: “Hi! Oprah says it’s excellent!” But did your friend really send this message? And what’s so excellent?

Millions of people got emails like this one, but not from their friends. Instead, according to the FTC, marketers hired by Sale Slash sent spam emails from hacked email and social media accounts. Why? To trick people into thinking the messages came from a friend. And, of course, to sell stuff.


Privacy matters

Did you know that May 3-9, 2015 is Privacy Awareness Week? It’s an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum.

Privacy Awareness Week highlights the importance of protecting your personal information. This year’s theme is Privacy Matters — a message we promote year-round at the FTC. Whether you’re at home, work, school, or a doctor’s office — there are things you can do to help keep your information private and safe.

Privacy matters image

Money back guarantee hid another fee

Starting a new business? That used to mean throwing a name on some brick and mortar. Nowadays, you need a website. Lots of companies sell domain names and web hosting services that let customers put up websites. It pays to go with one that spells out all the terms and conditions before you buy. But what if a company promises a refund as part of its 30-day money back guarantee — and then surprises you with a nonrefundable fee? That’s called deception.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Been hacked or hijacked? Read this.

Your email’s been hacked — what do you do?

Your computer’s been hijacked by malware — how do you get it back?

If you’re not sure where to start — or you’re the person everyone asks for help getting started — we’ve got two new videos, in English and Spanish, with the steps to help.

Hijakced Computer video image with play button

There is no Bureau of Defaulters

The email says it’s a court notice from the Bureau of Defaulters Agency-FTC with your arrest warrant record attached. It says you’ve ignored their efforts to contact you, so now your Social Security number is on hold by the federal government, you’ll be prosecuted for fraud, and you’ll owe all kinds of money when you’re found guilty. You’ve got just 24 hours to respond.

It’s not true. There is no Bureau of Defaulters, and the FTC doesn’t send emails like this to people.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Protecting your online brokerage accounts from fraud

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Bulletin to help investors protect their online brokerage accounts from fraud. As with all web-based accounts, investors should take precautions to help ensure that their online brokerage accounts remain secure. These online security tips can help.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online