Counsel for International Consumer Protection, FTC
Do you know how to keep your personal and financial information safe? Or what to do if a scammer misuses your information? Now is a great time to find out. May 16-20, 2016 is Privacy Awareness Week, an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum. The Forum lets privacy agencies in the region share information about privacy practices and rules.
This year’s theme is Privacy in Your Hands, and focuses on practical steps you can take to help keep your information private and safe year-round.
Thousands of people downloaded a popular 3D browser-based game from the Chrome Web Store. That game, described as a "fast-paced, action-packed free-running castle adventure game," advertised "High Speed Acrobatics," "Awesome Outfits and Skills," and "Insanely Dangerous Worlds." The danger, it turned out, was to consumers’ privacy.
The subject line says “Get Protected,” and the email talks about new features from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that can help taxpayers monitor their credit reports, and know about unauthorized use of their Social Security number. It even cites the IRS and the official-sounding “S.A.F.E Act 2015.”
It sounds real, but it’s all made-up. It’s a phishing email to get you to click on a scammer’s link.
If you own a computer, you’ve probably seen this message before: Java Update Available. You know that leaving outdated software on your computer can make it more vulnerable to viruses and malware, so you’ve always agreed to the updates. Unfortunately, the FTC says keeping Java updated didn’t necessarily keep it secure.
Does your internet browser ever display ads that just seem wrong — for example, an inappropriate ad on a kid’s website, an ad that blocks content on the page, or an ad on a government site? It might look something like this:
The next time you get a message offering to fix a supposed problem with your computer, you might keep this in mind: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Because there’s a good chance that call is a tech support scam.
Recently, I told you about the new credit and debit chip cards designed to reduce fraud, including counterfeiting. Now, I'm reporting on scammers who are trying to take advantage of the millions of consumers who haven't yet received a chip card.
Got a question about a product or an account from a big-name online retailer that makes you want to speak directly to their customer service representative? What do you do first? Go to their website, of course. Can’t find a phone number there? Then you may do what seems like the next best thing and just type the company name into a search engine.
But the FTC warns consumers that it’s a mistake to assume that all toll-free numbers that pop up in a search are legitimate customer service lines. Some are run by scammers out to hijack your credit card number or install malware on your computer.
Let’s be honest: I spend more time playing games on my smart phone than talking on it. Our phones have become our family photo albums, personal gaming systems, calendars, encyclopedias, navigators, and instant messengers. If you can think of an activity, there’s probably an app for it.
Unfortunately, some apps might not be what they claim, and downloading the wrong app could put your phone on the fritz. According to the FTC, that’s what happened to thousands of people who downloaded the Prized app before it was removed from the app store.