Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Articles and Information for Consumers

from the Federal Trade Commission

Updated: October 17, 2019
By: RSH Web Editorial Staff
Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Small Business Scam Alert

Scammers threating to shut off your water, electricity or gas? During the busiest time of your day, you get an urgent phone call. It’s the electric company. Pay your late bill now, or they’ll cut off your power. Don't pay. It's a scam. It’s not the utility company on the phone. It’s a scammer trying to trick you into paying them. How can you tell? The caller wants you to pay by wire transfer or with a gift card. No matter the story, that’s a sure sign of a scam
» Scam Alert

Shopping Tips from FTC

Tips to help you shop wisely and protect your personal information
» Shopping Tips

Stalking Apps

Retina-X Settlement Charges. Did you know you can be monitored right through your Smart Phone? The FTC’s settlement with Retina X Studios marks the Agency’s first case against “Stalking Apps ” or “Stalkerware”. Which is spyware that secretly monitors another person’s smartphone.
» Stalkerware

Talking Turkey

Whether it’s a spare can of cranberry sauce or an extra turkey platter, thoughtful Thanksgiving hosts make contingency plans for the holiday. This year, if the dinner discussion veers into controversial territory, like the pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie debate. Here is a suggested topic of conversation you can have at the ready
» Talking Turkey

Fake Promises offer no sigh of (debt) relief

An offer of reduced monthly payments, or complete forgiveness on your student loan may make you want to sign up. Unfortunately, though, some of those programs wind up costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars for nothing in return. What’s more, you could have gotten real help for free
» Fake Promises

Consumer Alerts

Free Trials can cost you

Free trial offers can grab your attention. They’re easy to sign up for. And they are, well, free – right? Not exactly. Some free trials can be expensive. Scammers often use “free” trial offers, with undisclosed or buried terms, to enroll you, without your knowledge, in costly membership programs. At the Federal Trade Commission, we are actively fighting to take down these scammers. Today, we announced a case against a group of them. But the best first line of defense is you. Please watch this video, know the signs of a free trial scam, and share them with your friends and family
» Free Trials

Putting Cash in the Mail

We’ve been warning you about scammers asking you to pay with gift cards or by wiring money. Scammers love getting you to pay that way because they can get your money fast and disappear. It’s almost as good as getting you to send cold, hard cash. Which must have occurred to them, too, because some scammers are now going low-tech and asking people to send cash in the mail. Sometimes they even tell people to divide the cash between pages of a magazine
» Cash in the Mail

The Marriott Data Breach

Marriott International says that a breach of its Starwood guest reservation database exposed the personal information of up to 500 million people. If your information was exposed, there are steps you can take to help guard against its misuse
» Data Breach

FTC: No support for Diabetes Treatment Claims

People spend billions of dollars a year on health products that are unproven and often useless. Case in point: The FTC has sued the sellers of “Nobetes” about their advertising claims for a pill that would supposedly treat diabetes – and maybe even replace the need for prescription diabetes medication, like insulin. According to the FTC, these claims were false or misleading, and the sellers had no reliable, scientific evidence to back them up
» Diabetes Claims

Smart Toys

Before giving your kid's a new smart toy you may want to check into the toy first. The toy may collect information about your child. WI-FI connected smart toys with cameras, microphones, and sensors. Especially the ones that know your voices. Smart toys that collect data, listen to conversations, and share their location while your children play
» Smart Toys

Contact Lens Seller Disregards the Law

Cosmetic contact lenses. Also known as costume or decorative contact lenses. These can change the color of your eyes without correcting your vision. They may seem like just another harmless fashion accessory, All contacts should require a prescription. Anyone who is selling contacts without a copy of your prescription or verifying your prescription IS selling them illegally
» Contact Lens

Online Ordering Tips

Most people today love being able to order what ever they need online. Unfortunately the FTC always receives reports from consumers who never got their orders or as expected. They listed some great tips to help with your shopping experience
» Tips Online Ordering


Experiencing a large wildfire can be devastating and can have long term effects on everyone involved. Taking creating a recovery plan can give you a sense of hope and purpose. Listing links and tips to help make the task less burdensome
» Wildfires

Smart Giving - California’s Wildfires

California continues to be hit by wildfires. This includes the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles and the Camp Fire in Northern California. If you are looking to help those in need, Be smart. Do your home work to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised
» Smart Giving

Fake Phone Calls regarding SSN

The FTC constantly receives reports about solicitors pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). They try to get your Social Security Numbers, money, bank info. One scam is where they say your SSN has been linked to a crime involving drugs or sending money out of the country. They then say your SSN is blocked asking for a fee to reactivate it or to get a new number. They ask you to confirm your Social Security number. Never give your SSN out over the phone to anyone. NEVER!

Phishing Scams

When someone uses a fake email or texts to get your personal information such as your account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login ID and passwords. They can then steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link they can install viruses and ransomware that can lock you out
» Phishing Scams

Social Security Scams

More on the growing SSN scam: Calls or emails pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Try to get your Social Security number or your money. That scam is growing, and growing exponentially! To compare: in 2017, we heard from more than 3,100 people about SSA imposter's. This year more than 34,000 people have reported the scam, and reported they have lost millions. Listen to what one of those calls sound like
» Social Security Scams

Debt Collection Scam

Ever recieve a call about a debt you do not owe? Or even recognize? This can be scary especially when the caller claims to be a Attorney and threatens legal action if you don’t pay right now. Such are the ploys of the "Phantom Debt Collectors" Lies, harassment, intimidation and threats are their trade mark. Dont fall for it
» Phantom Schemes

Romance Scams Can Cost You

Lost money with a romance scam? Last year it was reported that more than $140 million was lost to romance scams. This is a higher number than any other type of scam reported to the FTC. And it looks like Romance Scams are on the rise.
» Romance Scams

FTC works to get your Money Back

Bringing lawsuits to stop unfair and deceptive business practices is one way FTC helps right those wrongs. And to get refunds back to people who lost money. From July 2017 to June 2018, FTC refunded more than $2.2 billion. Earlier this week, The FTC shows these results with a map on how much money and how many checks the FTC mailed to each State. You also see how the FTC determines who should get refunds and the steps they take to return as much money as possible
» Money Back


Videos from the FTC may not feature famous actors but still pretty entertaining. Produced by the Consumer Protection Agency, these videos offer useful information that can save you money, time, and aggravation
» Showtime

Scam for International Students

Scammers pretending to be from the Federal Government are scaring international students into paying money. We are receiving many reports that foreign students especially from South Asian countries, are getting these scam phone calls
» International Students

Cure Encapsulations. Fake Claims Fake Reviews

Burn that fat. Reduce your cravings. Feel oh so much better. Lose lots of weight.” Some dietary supplements have big promises and even backed by five-star customer reviews. But can these supplements really do what they state? Can you acually trust those five star ratings? Read On:
» Misleading Claims

2018 Top Frauds

Every year our partners and FTC receive millions of reports about the frauds you reported. Last year alone we heard from 3 million people, Here are some of what we learned from those reports
» Top Frauds

What the Do Not Call complaints are telling FTC

Received a call from an impostor, from the Social Security Administration, IRS, or a tech support company? Calls from impostors are the most reported topic of unwanted calls to the FTC. You can see the annual report on Do Not Call complaints, with state specific info. With some key takeaways
» Impostors

Renting a car?

Comparing prices online can save you money. Always make sure you compare the total cost and not just the advertised rate. Add-on fees can quickly double the base price and you will be stuck paying them
» Car Renting

Zurixx’s Real Estate Scheme

It seems everyone wants to make money by flipping houses. There are many people and companies out there promising to tell you how but some of those promises are fake. The most recent example is Zurixx, a real estate investment company sued by the FTC and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection (DCP).
» Investment Scheme

Scam Refunds

If you lost money in a scam, you might get a call or email from someone claiming that they can help you recover your funds. Even sounding like they are from the Fedeal Trade Commission and is able to return your money. Scammers try to cause confusion and take advantage
» FTC Refunds

FTC: AdvoCare business model was Pyramid Scheme

Are you thinking about joining a multi-level marketing business to earn extra money? Before investing your hard-earned cash, make sure you’re not dealing with a pyramid scheme – a scam that can cost you dearly.
» Pyramid Scheme

Millennials and fraud: What’s the story?

The term Millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and 1990s. Many people have fallen for scams. Is it any different for Millennials? This is what the FTC looks at in its new Data Spotlight, Not what you would think: Millennials and fraud.
» Millennials

Defending Your Self Against Scams

To those who hangs up on unwanted calls, keep up on the latest scams and suspicious offers. People who did those things were less likely to lose money to scams than many didn’t, according to : What Separates Victims from Non Victims?. Reports from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, and Stanford Center on Longevity
» Scams

Video Games, Loot Boxes, Your Money

Do you or your kids play video games? Have you heard of loot boxes? For most of us that is yes and according to a recent survey many lose allot of money
» Video Games

Notarios And Immigration

Now and then it’s helpful to remind ourselves of things we already know are not legit, And Notarios do not give legal help with Immigration. If someone you know is trying to get help with immigration issues, go to an Immigration Lawyer and skip the notarios. They are not lawyers and really can't help with Immigration issues
» Notarios


Online dating is a common way people try to find romance. But what if you find a Scam instead? Recently the FTC announced a lawsuit against challenging several of their business practices that FTC says exposed customers to Romance Scammers

Those Attorney Ads - Bad for Your Health

You see those ads on TV, on the radio, read them in print and online. Attorneys telling you about the dangers of certain prescription drugs. Many open with “Health Alert” “Medical Alert” “Consumer Alert” to get your attention. But what are they really about?
» Attorney’s Ad

Hispanics Fraud to Avoid

A time to celebrate the rich culture, heritage, and contributions of Hispanics. "Hispanic Heritage Month" Federal Trade Commission’s commitment to help Hispanic communities fight fraud
» Hispanics

Social Security Scams

We are seeing a new twist on the Social Security Administration (SSA) scams. Listen to this SSA Robocall Scam which states "Your Benefits will End"
» Social Security

Help with Student Loans?

A program that promises to reduce or erase your student loan sound like just what you need? But some of these programs will take lyour money and give you nothing or do only what you could have done yourself
» Student Loans

After Hurricane Dorian

If you suffered damage from Hurricane Dorian, or if you’re looking for ways to help those in need, start at FTC Weather Emergencies. Listing ways to spot the scams that often follow disasters
» Hurricane Dorian

Health claims for CBD products

Three companies that claim their cannabis products as miracle treatments for illnesses have gotten warnings from the FTC stating that they are at risk for legal action unless they have sound scientific evidence to back up their claims.

Free Trials for Products

As you surfing you have probably seen websites that offers to try out cool products or services for free. Most of the time it is okay to see what they offer. But a few dishonest companies will bury the terms of their “free trial” offers in fine print or not disclose them at all. Their real goal is to just rob you of your money
» Trials and Tribulations

YouTube Tracking your Kids

Does your child love YouTube videos? Did you know that when your child is watching that show YouTube is collecting data and using it to send her targeted ads? Under a new settlement with the FTC, YouTube and its parent company, Google, must pay a record $170 million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule
» YouTube

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