Privacy & Identity

Guess what we’ve been up to? Protecting your privacy — and more.

Protecting your privacy is a job we take seriously at the FTC. We’ve already brought hundreds of privacy and data security cases. In total, they affected billions — that’s right, billions — of consumers. There’s more to come, but as we celebrate Data Privacy Day today, we want to share some highlights from our efforts over the past year.

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Privacy & Identity

Report identity theft and get a personal recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov

Millions of people are affected by identity theft each year. It might start with a mysterious credit card charge, a bill you don’t recognize, or a letter from the IRS that says you already got your refund — even though you didn’t.

If someone uses your information to make purchases, open new accounts, or get a tax refund, that’s identity theft. Recovering from identity theft often takes time and persistence. That’s why today’s announcement from the FTC is a big deal: New features at IdentityTheft.gov make it easier to report and recover from identity theft.

Image of IdentityTheft.gov

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Privacy & Identity

This year’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week is January 25-29

It’s tax season, and you know what that means: identity thieves who want to steal your tax refund are at work. Find out how to stop them during Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, January 25-29.

The FTC and its partners are hosting a series of events to help you understand tax identity theft, how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim, and what to do if thieves have stolen your tax refund.  Check these out:

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Privacy & Identity

Is your baby monitor secure?

It may be time to update an old lullaby with a new stanza: “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, unless your Wi-Fi baby monitor is well-secured.”

Why? It turns out that some baby monitors that broadcast live audio and video feeds over the internet have few security protections. Nobody wants a monitor that lets you keep an eye on your baby from your computer or mobile device if it allows a stranger to hack the feed and watch, too.

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Privacy & Identity

Scammers fake Social Security email

The subject line says “Get Protected,” and the email talks about new features from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that can help taxpayers monitor their credit reports, and know about unauthorized use of their Social Security number. It even cites the IRS and the official-sounding “S.A.F.E Act 2015.”

It sounds real, but it’s all made-up. It’s a phishing email to get you to click on a scammer’s link.

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Privacy & Identity

Medicare imposters want to steal your money. Don’t let them.

Pop quiz: If someone calls you asking for your bank account number, should you give it to them?

Answer: Never. Hang up — it’s a scam.

We’ve heard about different kinds of imposter scams on the rise. In one scenario, scammers call, pretending to work for Medicare. They say they need to verify your bank account number — and it might sound convincing. In truth, it’s a trick to steal your money.

Top 10 consumer protection blog posts of the year

It’s time to dust off the red carpet—actually, it’s more of a government-issued gray, but we’re dusting it off nonetheless—to bring you our top 10 consumer blog posts of the year.

What’s worse than stale coffee? Stale Java.

If you own a computer, you’ve probably seen this message before: Java Update Available. You know that leaving outdated software on your computer can make it more vulnerable to viruses and malware, so you’ve always agreed to the updates. Unfortunately, the FTC says keeping Java updated didn’t necessarily keep it secure.

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Privacy & Identity

LifeLock agrees to pay $100 million for allegedly violating FTC order

Have you ever wondered what happens when a company is charged with violating a settlement order with the FTC? Well, ya got trouble. I mean trouble with a capital “T”. And for LifeLock, that trouble comes partly in the form of full refunds of up to $100 million for consumers affected by its alleged order violations.

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Privacy & Identity

Companies pay for collecting kids’ information without permission

As a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. This includes your child’s name, address, phone number, email address, and information the companies can use to track your child’s online activities. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives you tools to do that. If a site or service is covered by COPPA, it has to get your permission before collecting personal information from your child and it has to honor your choices about how that information is used.

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Privacy & Identity

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