OnGuard Online Blog

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

Double the fun: The FTC announces two new robocall contests

The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Terminator 2… Don’t you just love a good sequel? The FTC does, too, and that’s why the agency is returning to DEF CON with a new robocall challenge.

 Humanity Strikes Back

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

The Grate Pretenders

We’re done with the Golden Globes and the Oscars but an entirely different kind of actor is still lurking around: scammers who pretend to be someone they’re not. Sometimes it seems we’re afloat in a sea of imposters who are trying to cheat you by pretending to be from legitimate organizations. Imposter scams play on your emotions. The scammers work hard to make you believe that you’ve won something or you have an unexpected problem. They say that, for a small fee, they’ll send you lots of money or make your troubles disappear. They might encourage you to pay them with a reloadable card or they may ask for your personal information. Here are the top ten imposter scams you told us about last year.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Superfish software on Lenovo notebooks: What you can do

You may have seen — and been concerned by — news stories about Superfish software on Lenovo notebooks. Lenovo began pre-installing Superfish on certain notebooks in September 2014. But, the software makes it easier for hackers to access your personal information, even when you’re visiting a website, like a bank’s website, that uses HTTPS to encrypt the transmission of sensitive information.

Although Lenovo has announced that they have discontinued pre-installing Superfish on its notebooks, some Lenovo notebooks sold today may still have Superfish pre-installed. So, if you purchased a Lenovo notebook any time since September 2014, your computer may be vulnerable to security threats. Here are some steps you can take.

Do you trust those online reviews?

Thinking about using a company, product, or service based on online reviews? You’re probably interested in getting the best service – and price – for your money. You might have read what other customers have written to help with your decision. But can you always trust those online reviews? Just how credible are they?

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

National Consumer Protection Week in every community

When National Consumer Protection Week starts on Sunday, it will mark the 17th year of a growing partnership. NCPW now includes 89 federal, state and local agencies and non-profits working together to connect people with the best consumer education resources.

At, you’ll find resources to help you manage your money, handle credit and debt, stay safe online, avoid identity theft, and more. Read the latest news from consumer protection experts on our blog; share videos, articles, audio tips, and blog posts; order free resources; or file a complaint when you spot a scam. You’ll also get ideas on how to get involved so you can help us spread the word about consumer protection.

NCPW 2015 image

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Can your app really do that?

Apps can provide hours of entertainment, keep you organized, and help you learn something new. Indeed, apps can be helpful, as long as they provide accurate information. But if you’re trying to analyze a serious medical condition with an app — like whether that mole on your back might be a sign of melanoma — talk with your doctor or another reliable medical professional first. As recent FTC cases show, some health apps make claims they can’t back up.

Woman using tablet

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online