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Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Economic impact payments for U.S. citizens abroad

Are you a United States citizen living abroad? For millions of expatriates, help from home is on the way in the form of COVID-19 economic impact payments. Unfortunately, scammers also are on the way, and they’re eager to pluck the payment from your pocket.

The FTC’s Highlights of 2019

We’re all facing unprecedented challenges now – and the FTC has been hard at work on the trail of many Coronavirus-related scams that are harming consumers. But the rest of the Commission’s work continues apace. For instance, last year the Commission returned more than $232 million in refunds to consumers across the country. Today, we’re taking a minute to take stock of some of the highlights from 2019.

Stay safe while video conferencing

Have you been video conferencing in these days of social distancing? It’s pretty cool to see several people at once on the screen and be able to have a conversation as if everyone was in the same room. But we don’t want strangers in our meetings — and we’d all probably rather keep our information to ourselves. So let’s review some basic safety tips:

COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers

If you’re a regular reader of this blog — or of the news, you know that scammers are out in force, taking advantage of all aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve spotted plenty of bogus cures and treatments, but many of you have told the FTC about straight-up scams, like texts/emails/calls from a “government agency” promising to get your relief money for you. Others have told us about things that could be scams (or could be businesses catching up with the new reality) — like websites that promise scarce cleaning products or masks (that never arrive), or problems related to getting money back for cancelled travel plans.

Scammers are using COVID-19 messages to scam people

Scammers are experts at shifting tactics and changing their messages to catch you off guard. This is especially true as they take advantage of anxieties related to the Coronavirus. Here’s a quick alert about some current government imposter scams using COVID-19 that are popping up on our radar.

Hang up on tech support calls

It can be frustrating to have problems with your computer, especially now that so many people are working from home. But if you get a call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft technician, saying there are viruses on your system, hang up the phone. It’s a scam.

Remote learning and children’s privacy

“Social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “virtual happy hour” – these are some of the new expressions on everyone’s lips the past few weeks. For many kids, parents, and teachers, add “remote learning” or “distance learning” to the list. Because of Coronavirus-related school closures, millions of students are now learning from home. For parents who are concerned about the privacy and security of their children’s personal data while they’re learning online, here are some things to know.

Coronavirus checks: flattening the scam curve

There’s a lot to worry about when it comes to the Coronavirus crisis, including the new ways scammers are using the economic impact payments (so-called “stimulus checks”) to trick people. To keep ahead of scammers who are trying to cash in on those payments, read on.

Avoiding SSA scams during COVID-19

While some of you are home, practicing social distancing and frequent hand washing to avoid the Coronavirus, remember that scammers are still busy trying to take advantage of people. Some scammers are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and trying to get your Social Security number or your money.

The FTC keeps attacking robocalls

Have you noticed lately that you’re getting fewer robocalls? Yes, way too many calls are still coming, and we’re fully engaged on that issue. But we’re seeing some promising developments. Some recent FTC actions might just have something to do with that. Let’s review. In December 2019, the FTC filed suit against VoIP service provider Globex Telecom for helping scammers run a “reduce your credit card interest rate” con. In January, the FTC sent letters to 19 VoIP providers, warning them that consumer protection laws apply to them, too, and pointing out what could happen if they kept helping scammy telemarketers break the law. Then, just last week, the agency sent nine warning letters to VoIP providers that were helping Coronavirus scammers blast out robocalls during the current health crisis. The VoIP providers that straightened up accounted for billions of calls that we’re all now not getting.

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