Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Here’s a big reason to complain about unwanted calls

Tired of getting unwanted calls like illegal robocalls? We don’t even need to ask, right? Maybe you’ve wondered if filing a complaint actually makes a difference?

Your complaints are vital to the work we do (more on that in a minute). But today we’ve got another great reason to keep those complaints coming.

At work on India-based imposter scams

Imposter scams like phony tech support scams and IRS impersonator calls continue to hit computers and phones across the country. And the scammers behind them continue to make it tough to track them down by masking their caller ID information and sending money through obscure and tangled routes. What we do know is that many of these scammers are based in India.

That’s why, at a recent FTC-led roundtable in Washington, DC, law enforcers, technologists, consumer advocates, and representatives from the Indian government and industry met to look at what more we can do to fight imposter scams. This event was the latest in a series of events in the U.S. and India.

The Winner of the IoT Home Inspector Challenge is…

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have made our lives easier. You can now set your slow cooker to the right temperature while you’re at work. Lightbulbs can be programmed to flick on while you’re away. Even washing machines and garden sprinklers are hyper-connected. But for all of the ease and convenience of these IoT devices, there is a flip side: security risks.

That’s why, this past January, we asked for your help through the IoT Home Inspector Challenge. The contest challenged entrants to develop a tool that would help address security issues caused by out-of-date software in IoT devices. We knew there were innovators out there with big ideas, and you delivered.

FTC proud of service to America

Every year, the Partnership for Public Service awards Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (the “Sammies” – or kind of the Oscars for feds) to highlight excellence in the federal workforce, and programs that make the country better, safer and stronger. This year, the FTC is proud to be a finalist in the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Category, for our team’s work in creating IdentityTheft.gov. (Please vote for the People’s Choice.) But we’re just as proud that the FTC’s work is represented in three of the four finalists in that category.

The price of free software?

Has your computer been acting strange lately? Maybe your default search engine or other browser settings changed, or you’re getting suspicious warnings about your computer’s performance. Are you are seeing ads that don’t seem to belong – like ones that cover up parts of the webpage or are on a site that doesn’t usually show ads? If so, you may have unwanted software on your computer. Your next step: get rid of any malware.

Keep security in mind on your summer vacation

When you travel, there probably are a few must-haves in your suitcase: your toothbrush, deodorant, socks, shoes – you get the idea. But one travel must-have we don’t always think about is security. While you’re away from home, you might be using public Wi-Fi, tagging your locations (whether or not you realize it), carrying around your passport, and using your credit card more often. Those things could put you at a higher risk of identity theft.
 

 

Military Consumer Financial Workshop is July 19th

I’m the proud daughter of a Navy veteran, and attended school on two military bases from elementary through high school. Looking back – although I may not have fully understood the consequences at the time – I see how various financial issues and scams affected the lives of my military friends and their families. That’s why I take consumer protection for servicemembers, veterans and their families seriously. For me, it’s personal. It’s also a top priority for the FTC.

Ransomware re-do? Back up your files.

Based on early news reports, it’s possible that another widespread ransomware attack is sweeping the globe. It may spread using the same vulnerability that the WannaCry attack used in May, or it may be a new virus. Either way, if organizations don’t patch their software, they’re at risk. It’s crucial to keep operating systems and other software up to date.

Scammers don’t really give refunds

The FTC has been cracking down on deceptive tech support operations that call or send pop-ups to make people think their computers are infected with viruses. Recently, a woman who lost money to one of the defendant’s in the FTC cases got a call from someone who claimed to be with a company the FTC sued. (It was a lie. In reality, the company has closed.)

The FTC doesn’t need your bank info

Some people have gotten an email that claims to be from Maureen Ohlhausen, the FTC’s Acting Chairman. But it’s not. The email asks you to give your bank account information – so, it says, you can get money from the government’s settlement with Western Union. The email is a scam to steal your financial information.

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