Privacy & Identity

Federal student tax? No such thing.

Imposters posing as IRS agents are trying to trick college students into paying a “federal student tax” – a tax that doesn’t even exist.

Privacy in your hands

Do you know how to keep your personal and financial information safe? Or what to do if a scammer misuses your information? Now is a great time to find out. May 16-20, 2016 is Privacy Awareness Week, an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum. The Forum lets privacy agencies in the region share information about privacy practices and rules.

This year’s theme is Privacy in Your Hands, and focuses on practical steps you can take to help keep your information private and safe year-round.

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Privacy & Identity

Scammers can fake caller ID info

Your phone rings. You recognize the number, but when you pick up, it’s someone else. What’s the deal?

Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they are someone local, someone you trust – like a government agency or police department, or a company you do business with – like your bank or cable provider. The practice is called caller ID spoofing, and scammers don’t care whose phone number they use. One scammer recently used the phone number of an FTC employee. Here are a few tips for handling these calls.

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Privacy & Identity

Scammers offering to help with disability applications

Scammers are trying to get personal information from people by pretending to help with applications for disability benefits and claims. A recent alert from the Social Security Inspector General warns of this phishing scam, and — whether or not you’ve started an application for benefits — these scammers could contact you. They’re taking a shot in the dark, hoping that you have started an application, and hoping you’ll give them a little more info over the phone. To “complete the process,” they might ask you to give, or confirm, your Social Security number or bank account numbers.

If scammers get your information, you could face identity theft and benefit theft. So here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.

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Privacy & Identity

Identity theft target turns the tables

I admit it; when my email inbox is full, my eyes may drift past some messages. But my co-worker’s story has motivated me to pay better attention. She noticed an odd email her husband got and looked into it. It turned out that someone had stolen his personal information and used it to buy things.

Image of IdentityTheft.gov home page

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Privacy & Identity

The FTC’s best of 2015

Here at the FTC, we spend most of our time working to protect your consumer rights and promote fair competition among companies. We conduct investigations, bring cases, give people tips and advice, help businesses comply with the law, and advocate for consumer-friendly policies around the world.

Every once in a while, we take a moment to measure our impact and consider what we’ve accomplished. That lets us explain our approach to people and companies that want to know, and helps us plan for the future.

In that spirit, today we released the FTC’s Annual Highlights for 2015.

Image of FTC's Annual highlights

Official-sounding calls about an email hack

There’s a new twist on tech-support scams — you know, the one where crooks try to get access to your computer or sensitive information by offering to “fix” a computer problem that doesn’t actually exist. Lately, we’ve heard reports that people are getting calls from someone claiming to be from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. Their claim? That your email account has been hacked and is sending fraudulent messages. They say they’ll have to take legal action against you, unless you let them fix the problem right away.

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Privacy & Identity

21st Century Oncology breach exposes patients’ info

Have you received a letter from 21st Century Oncology warning that your personal information was exposed? 21st Century Oncology is a medical company. Many of the doctors who work with it practice under their own names or the names of medical groups. Some treat patients who are not cancer patients.

The company recently announced that a cyber intruder broke into a company database containing information about more than 2.2 million past and present patients, including patients’ names, Social Security numbers, physicians’ names, diagnoses, and treatment and insurance information.

The company recently sent patients letters about the breach that included an offer of one year of free credit protection services. Here are some things to know if you got a letter.

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Privacy & Identity

Identity theft protection – you can do it!

You’ve probably seen ads offering “identity protection” services. In fact, nobody can guarantee you won’t experience identity theft. Those services offer identity monitoring and repair — things you can do yourself, for free.

If you’re open to being a do-it-yourselfer, here are some free and low-cost alternatives to buying identity theft protection services.

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Privacy & Identity

Telemarketer 3: Rise of the Robocalls

We hear from many people about robocalls. If a call is a message from someone selling something, and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from that company, the call is illegal. Do robocalls bug you, too? If so, watch this video to learn more about them, and the steps you can take to help slow them down.

Robocall advice

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Privacy & Identity

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