Counsel, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
When you travel, have you used your hotel’s Wi-Fi – maybe to pay a few bills or catch up on a report you need to read? You may want to think twice before logging in to accounts over hotel Wi-Fi. Hackers are using security vulnerabilities in hotel Wi-Fi to steal people’s passwords and other sensitive information. Here’s how it works: as a hotel guest, you try to get online using their Wi-Fi network and get a pop-up for a software update. But the network has been compromised. When you click to accept the download, you unknowingly load software designed to damage your computer or steal your information.
During your next hotel stay, consider whether you absolutely must share your login info over the Wi-Fi network. Weigh for yourself whether it’s worth the risk. If you decide to use a public network, take precautions.
“Hello, we have been trying to reach you. This call is officially a final notice from the IRS, Internal Revenue Service. The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.” That was the message on my answering machine when I returned home from work.
Being a dog owner isn't just about walks in the park. Your furry pal needs supplies too, like nutritious food, safe squeaky toys and waste bags for cleanup. Chances are, you rely on ads and product labels when you shop, so it’s important they tell the real story. The FTC sets standards for truth in advertising, and holds companies accountable for the claims they make to ensure you get sound information. The FTC recently sent letters warning 20 marketers of dog waste bags that their green claims about the bags may be deceptive.
Planning a funeral can be challenging, but accurate information can help you sort through your options. Under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, providers have to give you information about the funeral goods and services they offer. But, according to the FTC, the Bradford-Connelly & Glickler Funeral Home didn’t give shoppers that timely information.
Have you seen a sign offering a car title loan — also known as a pink-slip loan, title pledge or title pawn? These loans use your paid-off car as collateral, and you get a small, short-term loan with a high interest rate. You usually have to repay the loan in 15 or 30 days, and the annual percentage rate (APR) is often more than 100%. If you don’t pay back the loan, the company can repossess your car — and then you’re worse off than you were before. It’s a very expensive way to get money.
Tax identity theft is the theme of the week, but it’s not the only tax scam we’re talking about. Complaints to the FTC about IRS imposter scams have shot up over the last year — by almost 50,000 complaints.
Here’s what happens: You get a call from a scammer pretending to be with the IRS, saying you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay taxes you owe right now. You’re told to wire it or put it on a prepaid debit card. They might threaten to deport you or say you’ll lose your driver’s license. Some even know your Social Security number, and they fake caller ID so you think it really is the IRS calling.
Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection
FTC blog posts don’t usually come with parental advisory notices, but in the case of Craig Brittain and his now-defunct revenge porn website, isanybodydown.com, we might need to make an exception. Because, in case you missed it: revenge porn.
Unlimited talk, text, and data for $45 per month with no contract? That sounds like a great deal, but according to a recent FTC lawsuit, millions of people who bought unlimited mobile plans from Straight Talk, Net10 Wireless, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America didn’t get what they paid for. And now they may be eligible for refunds.
Sorry, folks, I don’t have any cake to share for this celebration, but don’t let that stop you from participating in Data Privacy Day. There are practical things you can do today, and every day, to protect your personal information. Here are a few scenarios where people may share more information than they intend.