February 2013

Which HTC Devices Will Get Security Updates?

The FTC and HTC America announced a settlement recently that requires the company to fix security flaws in their smart phones and tablets that put users’ sensitive information at risk. If you’re wondering whether your device was affected, you’ll be relieved to know there’s a new webpage for HTC users that lists affected HTC devices and the status of updates, along with a toll-free number for information (866-449-8358) that is staffed from 8 am to 1 am EST.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Sharing the Real Wealth

When money’s tight, work-at-home opportunities can sound like just the thing to make some extra cash. Unfortunately, many of these “jobs” are rip-offs. Today, the FTC announced that it will mail over 50,000 refund checks to consumers who were scammed by Real Wealth, a company that allegedly peddled bogus work-at-home offers.

 

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Trending

In 2012, the FTC received more than 2 million consumer complaints – a first in the history of the Consumer Sentinel Network. The #1 category of complaints? Identity theft. This tidbit is from the hot-off-the-press Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2012, a fascinating analysis of complaints received in Sentinel during the previous calendar year. Sentinel is a secure online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims, and track possible targets.

Want to learn more about the top ten complaint categories, get national data, and state-by-state accountings of the top complaints? Check out the 2012 Sentinel Data Book.

Veterans, CYA – Cover Your Assets!

If you’re a veteran over 65 — or related to one, you are a target for a particularly ugly type of scam that involves “poaching” your pension. Unscrupulous “advisers” — attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents — are trying to sell you financial or legal products to move your assets around without giving you the whole truth about the long-term consequences.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Patching Things Up

If you own an HTC phone or mobile device, you may be affected by a settlement announced today between the FTC and HTC America.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Loan Aggregators, or Loan Aggravators?

If you’re thinking about applying for an online payday loan, you might be dealing with a direct lender – or you might be dealing with a loan aggregator. A direct lender lends you the money; a loan aggregator is a middleman – a company that collects your personal and financial information on a loan application and shops it around to lenders who might offer you a loan.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Tough Luck, Hackers

Every day, you hear about scammers, hackers, and thieves using the internet to steal money and financial information from people. Just as we do things to make it tough for bad guys to break into our homes and our cars, we can make it tougher for them to break into our computers, too. You can take simple steps — like keeping your computer software up-to-date — to deter a hacker and protect your financial information.

Want some more tips? Here’s a new OnGuardOnline.gov video with steps you can take to keep your computer secure.

 

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

And They Called It Puppy Love…

The big bright eyes, the wet little nose, the soft fur fringed around a face you want to cuddle and coo. You’ve fallen in love with a picture of the cutest puppy (with a bright red bow), after responding to an ad that says “free to a loving home.”

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Avoid Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction Scams

The FTC is mailing hundreds of refund checks to consumers duped by a debt relief services company that ran an extensive credit card interest rate reduction scam.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Is Your Favorite Hotspot Secure?

What’s not to like about the convenience of free public Wi-Fi? It’s nice to be able to connect to the internet when you’re away from home. Unfortunately, these hotspots often aren’t secure. If you go online using public Wi-Fi — like at an airport or a coffee shop — you may unintentionally share personal information with strangers.

 

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

It’s Your Money

When you were in school, did you learn about managing your money? I remember learning how to write a check — strangely enough, in music class — but that was about it.

A new resource from the Federal Trade Commission takes you through important steps in managing your money. This section of consumer.gov talks about making a budget and opening a bank account, using debit cards, and saving money when you shop. It also gives you information about prepaid cards, using phone cards, and sending money overseas.


 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

A (Potentially) Taxing Situation

Tax season is here. It’s time to get your files and forms in order. You may be well-versed in W-2s and 1099’s, but do you know that an identity thief can mess up your tax files or even get to your tax refund before you can file for it?

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

It Pays to Check Your Credit Report

The FTC recently completed its fifth national study on the accuracy and completeness of consumer credit reports. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Looking Online for Your Valentine?

Lots of people use online dating sites to find love. Unfortunately, cupid can sometimes be a con artist in disguise.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Trusting Your Sources

You read the news to get the facts. But what happens when that “newsy” site isn’t news at all?

A company that used fake news sites to push acai berry supplements and other weight loss products has agreed to settle FTC charges. The agency has already stopped others that used wanna-be news sites and phony testimonials from supposed reporters to push their products. The M.O. is to make people think the site — and the reporters — are part of legitimate and trusted news organizations, name-dropping CNN and Consumer Reports, among others, to add credibility. But the fact is the sites were ads, masquerading as news.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Consumer Protection, Plain and Simple

Have you ever wanted to know what to do about a problem, but not wanted to read lots of information to get your answer? Sure, it might be interesting, but in that moment you just want to know what to do. 

If your problem was a consumer protection issue, we may have your answer: consumer.gov. It’s a free new resource from the Federal Trade Commission that gives you the consumer protection facts, plain and simple.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Bill Comes Due for Bogus Tax Relief Company

If you owe back taxes, you may be tempted to turn to companies that claim they can reduce or eliminate your tax debts and stop back-tax collection by applying for IRS hardship programs. The truth is that most people don’t qualify for the programs these fraudsters hawk, their companies don’t settle the tax debt, and in many cases they don’t even send the necessary paperwork to the IRS.

The FTC recently settled a case against American Tax Relief, which bilked consumers out of more than $100 million by falsely claiming it could reduce their tax debts. Under the settlement, the scammers are banned from telemarketing and selling debt relief services, and must surrender more than $15 million in cash and assets to settle charges that they violated federal law.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

On the Wrong Path

Today, the FTC announced a settlement with Path — a social networking site that promoted itself as a different kind of social network. Primarily available to users through a mobile app, Path claimed that it “should be private by default. Forever. You should always be in control of your information and experience.”

That’s a nice sentiment, but the FTC charged that what Path told people it was doing with their personal information didn’t jibe with what was going on behind the scenes.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity