If you’re interested in technological, financial or social innovation, you’ve probably heard of Bitcoin. It’s a virtual currency used by people around the world to make purchases online, or in person using a mobile app. As more merchants accept the currency — and more companies pitch Bitcoin investments — more people are curious about how it works.
Unlike dollars, pesos or yen, bitcoins are not backed by a government or distributed by a central bank. Instead, bitcoins are created on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network through a process called “mining.”
You may have heard about them in the news, through one of your favorite online shopping sites, or from a friend who always has the latest scoop on technology trends: cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are a way to buy things online — or in person, using a mobile app — with sellers who agree to accept them.
Counsel, Division of Consumer & Business Education
Have you ever snagged a great deal right from your tablet? Or maybe you’ve donated to a charity from your phone? Then you know first-hand that mobile technologies give us unprecedented efficiency and convenience. The FTC is addressing the issues that affect consumers as new mobile technologies come on the scene. The Commission has sued companies that have broken the law, held workshops about mobile commerce, and issued several reports documenting the state of mobile privacy, security, and consumer protection.
So when our sister agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put out a call to learn more about financial services and mobile technology, especially as used by underserved consumers, the FTC lent its support and sent comments. Here are some of the points we highlighted about the challenges consumers face when using mobile financial services.
Seems like just about every time you visit the app store on your mobile phone, there are cool images grabbing your attention and luring you to places where companies and others want you to be. But when apps specifically target children and gather personal information from them, parents have the right to know about — and stop it.
If you have children under 13, do you know about COPPA — the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act? Websites and services covered by COPPA must get your consent before they collect personal information from your child, and they must honor your choices about how that information is used.
That’s why Yelp — the online review service — is getting less than five stars from the FTC.
The new school year is in full swing and National Cyber Security Awareness Month is around the corner. What better time to talk to the kids in your life about online safety. Many of our readers are doing just that — and using Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online as the basis for the conversation.
Over 1 million copies of the new Net Cetera have been distributed throughout the U.S. since January 2014. Time and time again, our readers have told us they think Net Cetera is a valuable tool.
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
The FTC joins with other federal agencies to celebrate Hispanic heritage from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 during our nation’s official Hispanic Heritage Month. But the FTC uses enforcement and education every day, all year long, as part of its mission to protect all consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace, online and off. We use our enforcement authority to stop scams that target Spanish speakers, whether they involve fraudulent marketing practices, illegal debt collection practices, false advertising claims, or identity theft.
We deliver free information in Spanish on a wide range of consumer issues, in a variety of formats. Our resources in Spanish help Latino consumers recognize government imposters, protect their computers from malware and their personal information from phishing attempts, and avoid income scams.
News reports of large-scale data breaches — like this week’s announcement from Home Depot — have prompted some of our readers to ask about a credit freeze. Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you limit access to your credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
You got a robocall from someone working with the FTC with a message that promised to help you get a refund from the agency. If you ever lost money to a scam, it might have been a tough call to ignore. Turns out ignoring the call would have been the right call because — you guessed it: it was a scam.
Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
As the centenarian agency in the consumer protection world, the FTC knows that changes in the marketplace almost always affect trends in fraud – and that fraudsters follow the headlines. And we listen when the US Census Bureau tells us that more Americans are 65 and older now than at any other time in US history. So we anticipate that fraud targeting older citizens will increase in the next few years.
That’s just one reason the FTC launched a fraud education campaign aimed at active older people, a group with life experience and social networks.