FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 4 - Number 9
IN THIS ISSUE
Hooking You Up
New & Revised Consumer Education
Tip of the Month - Stop Think Click
Numbers to Know - Resources
ON GUARD ONLINE. The FTC and a partnership including cybersecurity experts, online marketers, consumer advocates, and federal officials have launched a new multimedia, interactive consumer education campaign to help consumers stay safe online. The campaign's comprehensive website, OnGuardOnline.gov, has tips, articles, and quizzes, and features video tutorials and a software database from the Internet Education Foundation's GetNetWise program.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/09/onguardonline.htm Visit the site: www.onguardonline.gov
KATRINA RECOVERY. The FTC testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection about its participation in the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force and hurricane-related consumer complaint data in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. The FTC also has disseminated information about some of the financial challenges faced by those displaced by the storm, as well as identity theft and hurricane-related scams.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/09/katrinatest.htm
DO NOT CALL FRAUD. The FTC announced a stipulated final court order and separate default judgment against defendants who allegedly cold-called consumers, offering to list them on the FCC do not call list. At the time the calls were made, the FCC didn't have a do not call list, and the defendants had no way of listing consumers, who were charged as much as $99.95 for their first year of “service.” The default judgment requires a payment of over $670,000.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/09/tpa.htm
UNAUTHORIZED DEBITS. A payment processor has settled FTC charges that it attempted to process more than $1.2 million in unauthorized charges on consumer checking accounts, knowing the consumers never authorized the debits. The processor made the unauthorized debits on behalf of a business known as Pharmacycards. The FTC alleged that Pharmacycards electronically debited thousands of accounts for $139 each, without consumers’ knowledge or consent.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/09/universal.htm
BANNERS AND BUTTONS. Interested in linking to the OnGuardOnline website from your Member's site? Members can post OnGuard Online banners and buttons on their websites. You can find them at: http://onguardonline.gov/partnerstuff/graphics.html. If you have questions about the buttons or the campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HELPING HAND. Let the FTC help you arm your constituents with practical information to help them spot and avoid fraud. To learn more about FTC resources for a town hall meeting on consumer issues, or to get information for constituent meetings, contact Derick Rill at email@example.com.
THINKING OF VICTIMS OF HURRICANE KATRINA? HERE'S HOW TO HELP. Advises consumers to donate to established national relief organizations with the experience and infrastructure to deliver aid, know to whom they're giving money, and protect their personal information when donating. www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/09/katrina.htm
GOOD, BETTER, BEST: HOW TO IMPROVE GAS MILEAGE. Offers consumers tips on improving gas mileage by driving more efficiently, maintaining their cars, using the correct octane and more. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt064.shtm
AFTER A DISASTER, SPAM MAY SCAM. Warns consumers about emails that request donations to phony charities and those that claim to offer news about Katrina but that secretly install spyware on the recipient's computer. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/disaster_spamalrt.htm
Thanks to the Internet, access to information, entertainment, credit, and products from around the world is greater than ever. The flip-side, however, is that the Internet affords anonymity, which can give online scammers, hackers, and identity thieves access to your computer, personal information, and finances. To be safer and more secure online, adopt these seven practices:
1. Protect your personal information. It's valuable.
2. Know who you're dealing with.
3. Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and update both regularly.
4. Be sure to set up your operating system and Web browser software properly, and update them regularly.
5. Protect your passwords.
6. Back up important files.
7. Learn who to contact if something goes wrong online.
For details, visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov.
FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.
Check out the CONGRESSIONAL RESOURCES portion of our Web site at www.ftc.gov/ftc/congress.htm No password needed to access.
To order free FTC consumer information, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, Member or Committee affiliation, and mailing address.
To file a fraud complaint, visit www.ftc.gov or call FTC's toll-free helpline, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
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