Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Articles and Information for Consumers
From the Federal Trade Commission

Updated: July 27 2023
By: RSH Web Editorial Staff

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Privacy, Identity, Online Security

Consumer Alerts

Learn more about the latest consumer advice and scams — and what you can do to protect yourself.

Social Security Scams

Receiving calls about your Social Security number? Maybe telling you it's suspended because of suspicious activity? It’s a scam. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is not calling you, Even if your caller ID says it is
To spread the word about this growing scam, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created this fraud prevention place-mat in consultation with the FTC and SSA:
You can » Order Free Copies of the Place Mat to use anywhere. Share with friends and family. The place mat is in English on one side and Spanish on the other
To report these scams, go to » FTC.GOV/Complaint
And for more tips, visit »

The New Year, Credit Reports Series

With a new year here, many of us want to get our finances in order. To help you get a handle on your credit, we’ve put together a four-part blog series: (1) why does your credit matter; (2) getting your credit report; (3) reading your credit report; and (4) fixing your credit report
» Credit Reports Series

How Do I Obtain My Credit Report

You may already know that there are multiple ways you can get a free credit report. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. The first step is to get your credit report
» Credit Reports

Your Credit Report

You are working on your finances in 2020. We explained how to get your credit report. Now that you have your credit report, you want to know how to read it
» Here is where to start

Illegal Robocalls with an up-sell

"Take a phone survey and get two free tickets to go on a cruise". The call was an illegal robocall. The FTC announced charges against the operators of a “free cruise” telemarketing scheme that made millions of illegal robocalls and dialed numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry
» Illegal Robocalls

Would you rather save some money or lose weight?

If you picked the money, you are not alone. With 2020 here, many of us are making financial resolutions. Saving more or paying down debt sounds great, but getting started can feel overwhelming. The FTC has five ideas for things you can do to start the new year off right
» Financial Resolutions

Work At Home Business

Starting a "Work at Home" business can give you the flexibility to set your own hours and be your own boss. But when you search online or get ads by email, you’ll often find scammers instead of a real opportunity
» Work at Home

Misleading Websites

Have you found any websites that look like legitimate places to get information on finding a job, joining the military, or getting government benefits. But they will not help you with any of those things. They try to take your personal information and sell it to other companies. The companies that buy this “Leads” then try to pitch you products or services you didn’t ask for. Or worse if it is a dishonest company
» Misleading Websites

University of Phoenix and FTC's Settlement

When a college or university claims it has relationships with high profile employers. Beware - Claims like this may just be a ploy to attract new students and your money. The FTC says that this is just what one University did as part of an extensive advertising campaign
» FTC Settlement

Car Wrap Scams also target College Students

What if a company contacts you and offers to pay you to drive around, which your already doing. But with their branding wrapped onto your car? It could sound like a good deal. But it just may not be
» Car Wrap Scams

What can You do to Stop Hackers

Your sensitive information is valuable. For the National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are some tips to help you keep your personal information from ending up in the hands of Hackers
» Stopping Hackers

Going Out of Business Sales

Going out of business sales may seem like golden opportunities to save some money on good deals. But before you do, here are a few things to keep in mind
» Going Out of Business

Avoiding Scams with the Holiday Shopping Season

Now that the Holidays are here, Scammers are shopping for you too, looking for people to scam out of their money. Here are some tips to help you outsmart those holiday scammers and donate safely
» Scamming Tips

Sharing Scamming Tips

Holidays often mean spending time with family and friends. If you’re looking for unusual conversation starters that avoid tricky "Family Topics". Try talking about scams? Pass it On is an FTC Educational Campaign, gives you new ways to talk about scams and how to prevent them
» Sharing Tips

Paying with Bitcoin?

Scammers first try to get you to wire money to them. Then they try to demanded payment by gift cards. Next, they try to trick you into paying them with Bitcoin. Tips on how to spot and avoid some of the top ways scammers are trying to get you to pay with Bitcoin
» Bitcoin Scams

Service Members, Veterans, Military - Fraud

When Scams are reported to the FTC, we hear about their experience with fraud and scams. These reports are very important for law enforcement and education efforts. As more people send us these reports, the data can tell a more detailed story about specific groups of people. One report shows differences between military consumers, veterans and active duty, along with civilians
» Reporting Fraud Tips

Trading in or Upgrading Your Phone?

What you need to do first. Considering trading or upgrading to a new phone? Did you leave your personal information on it? Your phone could have a lot of sensitive, personal information on it like passwords, account numbers, emails, text messages, photos, videos...
» To Do First

AT&T Customers Getting Refunds

Did you know that AT&T agreed to return $60 million to customers for allegedly reducing the data speed on their unlimited data plans without telling them? In the 2014 complaint by the FTC stating that AT&T’s practice of data throttling or slowing down the data speed for unlimited customers who used large amounts of data. It was ruled as unfair and deceptive. AT&T promised unlimited data, but did not give customers the data they paid for. And it was deceptive because AT&T did not tell customers it was reducing their data speed
» AT&T Refunds

2020 Census Scams

The Federal Trade Commission is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help you guard against potential census scams in 2020. Knowing how the Census process works, what information you will and will not need. And some red flags will help you spot and report these Scams
» Census Scams

FTC Sues Student Loan Companies

Student loan debt can be a heavy burden for anyone. And it seems like every day a new company pops up claiming to help permanently reduce and wipe out federal student loan debt. Most of these companies not only do not deliver what they promise, they try to take your money and do nothing in return
» Student Loan Scams

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 Smartphone? 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
» Stalker-ware

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 it's 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 it's 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 for 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 homework 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 receive a call about a debt you do not owe? Or even recognize? This can be scary, especially when the caller claims to be an 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 trademark. Do not 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 actually 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 imposter, 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 Federal 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 it's 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 a lot 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 your 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

While you are surfing you have probably seen websites that offer 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 it's 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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James P
thanks for sharing this FTC article, this is very useful for us, the tips of tools for small business is amazing, with the help of and the FTC small business can grow easily via digital marketing

Hernando R
You are really providing good info to your customers, I like it

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