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Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Shopping online? Watch this video first

In this age of social distancing, more and more of our favorite stores now offer ways to score great deals online. Even as shops around the country open their doors again, buying online is still a great, useful tool for people to enjoy. It’s nice to know that with a simple web search, you can find, buy, and ship almost any item right to your front door. But, while you’re enjoying that convenience, you want to be sure that sharing your financial and personal data online is safe.

Help COVID-19 contact tracers, not scammers

After nearly three months of stay-at-home orders, America is starting to open up again. Contact tracers, the folks who work for state health departments to try to track anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, are an important part of our road to recovery. But some scammers are pretending to be contact tracers so they can profit off of the current confusion. They’re trying to steal your identity, your money – or both. Luckily, there are ways to tell the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer.

Robocall reports still down, FTC still fighting

A couple months ago, we told you the good news that people had been reporting getting fewer robocalls, and we told you about how some of the FTC’s work might have played a part in that. We have more good news — the number of reported robocalls for April and May were even lower. Maybe you’ve noticed.

What do COVID-19 scams look like in your state?

We’ve been telling you about the scams related to COVID-19. But now we can tell you even more about the scams happening in your neck of the woods. Just today, the FTC released state-specific data on COVID-19-related issues, which you can check out with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Kohl’s must give records to identity theft victims

Imagine a thief used your information to buy things at Kohl’s – or used your Kohl’s credit card to go on a shopping spree. You’d want to get the records to prove it and clear up your good name. The law says you’re entitled to do exactly that. That’s what the FTC’s latest settlement with Kohl’s is about.

Are the apps your children use illegally marketing to them?

Kids love to play video games — in apps, on mobile devices and online with friends. And when kids play games, it is unlawful to collect their personal information without parental consent. 

Is a scammer getting unemployment benefits in your name?

In a large-scale scam erupting in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, imposters are filing claims for unemployment benefits, using the names and personal information of people who have not filed claims. People learn about the fraud when they get a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer about their supposed application for benefits.

How to avoid COVID-19 government imposter scams

Many of us are paying close attention to the guidance from federal, state, and local governments during this COVID-19 health emergency. Unfortunately, scammers are also paying attention. Some are even pretending to be affiliated with the government – just to scam you out of money.

What to know about the Economic Impact Payment debit cards

If you’re still waiting for your Economic Impact Payments, you might be getting a debit card instead of a check in the mail. This, of course, is the money that’s meant to give relief due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You may have already gotten your payment by direct deposit or by check. But if you’re still waiting, watch your mailbox for either a check or a VISA debit card. And know that the government will never, ever call, text, email, or ask you to click on a link they sent to activate your card or get your money.

Military Data Spotlight: Identity theft and servicemembers

Every year, thousands of servicemembers report to us about their consumer experiences. Those reports are the focus of the FTC’s Data Spotlight, Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops. From an analysis of the data, we can see that servicemembers often face consumer challenges that differ from those faced by their civilian counterparts – especially when it comes to identity theft. For instance, active duty servicemembers are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused one of their existing accounts, such as a bank account or credit card. Most notably, they are nearly three times as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money directly from their bank account. The Spotlight goes on to discuss other associated issues that servicemembers face, including identity theft-related debt collection and problems with credit bureaus.

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