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Privacy, Identity & Online Security

The Secretary of State is not emailing you

There are many scammers who pretend to be government officials – from the IRS, Social Security, and even the FTC. The latest twist is an email from – supposedly – the Secretary of State. In the email, someone pretending to be Secretary Tillerson says you’re owed a payment – which he knows about because of an investigation by the FBI and CIA. The email goes on to say that you’ll get an ATM card with $1.85 million on it – and it even gives you the PIN code. But, to get the ATM card, you have to send in $320 and a bunch of information about you.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week starts today

Today is the start of both the FTC’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week and the IRS’s tax filing season. What better time to find out how to reduce the risk that you or someone you know will become a victim of tax-related identity theft? Join us this week for free webinars and Twitter chats focused on tax-related identity theft and IRS imposter scams. Identity Theft Awareness Week logo

Do Not Call registrations don’t expire

Someone pretending to be from the FTC is sending out fake emails telling people that their Do Not Call registration is expiring. The emails use the FTC’s logo and send people to a phony Do Not Call website to register their numbers again.

Don’t buy it. Do Not Call registrations never expire. Once you add a number to the Do Not Call Registry, you don’t need to register it again -- ever. We only remove your number when it’s disconnected and reassigned, or if you ask us to remove it.

Scammers impersonate the Social Security Administration

Your Social Security number is an important key for an identity thief. Scammers want it, and they think of all sorts of ways to trick you into giving it away.Here at the Federal Trade Commission, we’re getting reports about calls from scammers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. They say there’s been a computer problem, and they need to confirm your Social Security number.

Other people have told us that they have come across spoof websites that look like the place where you would apply for a new Social Security card – but these websites are actually a setup to steal your personal information.

If you get a phone call or are directed to a website other than ssa.gov that is claiming to be associated with the Social Security Administration, don’t respond. It’s most likely a scam.

Here’s some tips to deal with these government imposters.

Plan for National Consumer Protection Week 2018!

January is the perfect month to organize your schedule for the year – and here’s a suggestion. Plan an event during National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-10, 2018. It is the perfect time to help people understand their consumer rights, make informed decisions about money, and learn how to spot scams. NCPW.gov makes it easy to plan a community meeting, roundtable discussion, or media event.

Protecting yourself against tax identity theft

It’s tax season and tax identity thieves are eager to claim your tax refund as their own. Find out how to stop them during Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, January 29-February 2.

The FTC and its partners are hosting free webinars and Twitter chats to talk about tax identity theft, how to reduce your risk, and what to do if it happens to you. Visit ftc.gov/taxidentitytheft to learn how to participate. Here’s what’s on tap:

Equifax’s free credit monitoring - time is ticking …

Considering Equifax’s offer of free credit monitoring after its breach? You need to sign up by January 31, 2018. Maybe you tried earlier but had trouble getting through. Or maybe you just put off the decision. Whatever the reason, if you want it, the time is now.

What to do if you’re the target of revenge porn

Has an intimate image of you been shared without your OK? If so, you’re not alone. Whether a nude picture was taken without your consent, or an image you shared with someone is shared further than you’d intended, many people are affected by revenge porn or non-consensual pornography. If that’s happened to you or someone you know, here are some things to do.

If your kids have electronic devices, read this

Did you buy electronic devices for your children this holiday season? I did — I bought one for my 9 year-old — and I want to share with you what I learned about protecting my kid’s personal information online.

The minute my son unwrapped his gift, he began using it and I immediately began worrying about his personal information being exposed.

Buying or selling a “smart” home? Read this.

Whether you are buying or selling a home, think about the technology you may be buying or selling along with it. Many homes are now “smart” — featuring internet of things (IoT) devices such as connected thermostats, light bulbs, security systems, and energy saving appliances.

Here are tips for making sure you are prepared to sell a home equipped with smart connected devices:

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