How Some Companies Get a Sneak Peek at Your Life … Literally

Every now and then, many of us get the strange feeling someone’s watching us. Given how easy it is these days for companies to gather information about where we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, this may well be more than a feeling.

Even so, here’s one that really takes the cake:

The FTC today took action against Aaron’s for allegedly enabling some of its franchisees to use software that allowed them to spy on and collect personal information from customers. Without consumers’ knowledge or consent (but with Aaron’s knowledge) Aaron’s franchisees gathered personal data – including usernames and passwords for email accounts, social media websites, and financial institutions – as well as private details of their customers’ lives. The software captured screenshots of medical information, Social Security numbers, and financial statements. Through the computers’ webcams, the software secretly took pictures of anyone within view of the lens. In some instances, it captured pictures of children, individuals not fully clothed, and other highly personal images. What’s more, the software generated fake registration forms that tricked people into providing personal information. Anyone renting these computers was unable to detect, let alone uninstall, the software.

Rent-to-own stores had been using this kind of software to shut down computers when customers got behind on their payments. But to activate the spying features of the software, Aaron’s franchisees had to access the software manufacturer’s website – which many franchisees could do only with the help of Aaron’s computer network and technology staff. 

This case outlines one of the many ways companies can gather even the most intimate details about you – not just from computers, but from mobile devices, the use of savings cards, and other things you use and do day-to-day. Learn what to do to secure your computer, protect your personal information and fight identity theft. And, please, file a complaint with the FTC if you suspect a company or individual has violated your privacy or other consumer rights.

Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Comments

For crying out loud, shut down Aarons and the company that made the malicious illegal software! Why allow them to stay in business when this was extreme invasion of privacy and very rude dangerous behavior by these criminals!

Time to arresting these evil malicious people!

Thank you FTC I for one would never have suspected such
treacherous and unethical foul play. Such greed!

Why aren't the crooks being prosecuted? That goes for the IRS and NSA as well.

Reading about this really makes me uncomfortable and scared! A few weeks ago i applied for a loan online well long story short i kept getting phones for about 2 weeka from the same (not being racist or rude) arab guy and i finally just decided to try it, well i didnt end up going through with it i told him i didnt want the loan and to pleaae take me off there list. Well that guy didnt get the picture he kept calling and calling amd finally i said look i dont want the freakin loan i dont want your money and this guy tried everything for me to except the loan, then he started saying he was in love with me and that he wanted to do dirty things to me, I wont even write what he had said to me it was so wrong and inapropriate and then he kept saying he could see me right now and that i looked so beautiful and just wouldnt stop i kept threatning i was going to call the cops and he wouldnt stop calling my phone and saying ininapropriate things!

I can understand them wanting to lock the pc out for payment failure but there is a better way to do it like entering a special receipt code after payment has been processed. This is a violation of privacy and any and all companies should be prosecuted and heavily fined!

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