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Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Free electronic credit monitoring coming soon to the military

What you can do to fend off hackers

Your personal information is valuable. That’s why hackers try to steal it. This year, for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve got tips to help you keep your personal information from ending up in the hands of a hacker.

Back brace scams target people on Medicare

Scammers have been targeting Medicare recipients with a scheme to get “free or low-cost” back and knee braces. They’re calling, running television ads, and mailing letters to get people to give their Medicare information. But if you give them your information, they’ll use it to fraudulently bill Medicare for braces or other medical equipment. This uses up your medical benefits, which means you might not be able to get the right brace later, if your doctor prescribes one.

SIM Swap Scams: How to Protect Yourself

If your cell phone is your go-to device for checking your email, paying your bills, or posting to social media, you’re not alone. So imagine that your cell phone suddenly stops working: no data, no text messages, no phone calls. Then picture getting an unexpected notification from your cellular provider that your SIM card has been activated on a new device. What’s going on? These could be signs that a scammer has pulled a SIM card swap to hijack your cell phone number. Find out how scammers pull off a SIM card swap like this and what you can do to protect yourself from a SIM card swap attack.

Scams and older consumers: Looking at the data

The FTC just sent a report to Congress called Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019. The report suggests steps to take to help protect older consumers from fraud. But the evidence also shows a thing or two everyone else can learn from them. Check out the sometimes surprising findings in this year’s report.

Stalking apps: Retina-X settles charges

Did you know people can monitor you through your phone? The FTC’s settlement with Retina-X Studios, LLC marks the agency’s first case against “stalking apps” or “stalkerware” – spyware that secretly monitors another person’s smartphone.

Cosmetic company wrote fake reviews

Do you rely on product reviews to decide if something is good enough to try or buy? Real product reviews are great at helping us make better informed decisions. But you might wonder if some of these reviews – on websites, in blogs and on social media – are from real customers who used the product. And you should, because some companies use fake reviews to paint a pretty picture and boost their bottom line.

Fake followers: A social media hoax

Influencers, celebrities and other people with strong online followings can be, well, influential. When considering whether you want to buy something or use a service – especially when you’re buying online – you might look at a person’s or company’s social media. A bigger following might mean something to you, maybe telling you something about their legitimacy or how good their product or service is.

What Do Not Call complaints are telling us

Have you gotten a call from an imposter, maybe someone pretending to be with the Social Security Administration, IRS, or a tech support company, this year? If so, you’re not alone. Calls from imposters were the most-reported topic of unwanted calls to the FTC over the past year (FY2019).

You can see our annual report on Do Not Call complaints, with state-specific data. But here are some key takeaways.

Video games, loot boxes, and your money

Play video games, or have kids who do? For most of us, that’s a yes, according to a recent industry survey.

It also means you might have heard of loot boxes. Loot boxes are the containers you come across in many games filled with a random mix of virtual items players might want: maybe clothes or gear to customize your avatar, or weapons or skills that could give you an advantage over other players in the game. Some of the items are valuable in the game, but many are not. And you won’t know what you’re getting until you open it.

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