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 11
IN THIS ISSUE
New Consumer Education
Tip of the Month - Holiday Shopping? How to Be On Guard When You're Online
Numbers to Know - Resources
ON THE DOWNLOAD. A U.S. District Court, at the request of the FTC, has halted an operation, which used the lure of free lyric files, browser upgrades, and ring tones to download spyware and adware on consumers’ computers. The court also stopped the operation's affiliate that offered blogs free background music, causing spyware downloads. The organization’s assets are frozen pending a further hearing. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/11/enternet.htm
SPAM-A-LOT. The FTC has released a new staff report which focuses on three aspects of spam: email address harvesting – the automated collection of email addresses from public areas of the Internet; the effectiveness of spam filtering by ISPs; and the effectiveness of using “masked” email addresses as a technique to prevent harvesting. “Masking” email addresses involves altering the address to make it understandable to the recipient but confusing to automated harvesting software. The FTC's new staff report says that ISP filters block up to 95% of unsolicited email. ISPs’ anti-spam technologies can block the vast majority of spam sent to harvested email addresses and consumers can prevent harvesting by “masking.” Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/11/spam3.htm
MORE SPAM. Spammers who sent millions of illegal email messages – including sexually explicit ones – have paid $621,000 to settle the FTC's charges that their practices violated federal laws. The settlement bars future violations and requires the marketers to monitor their affiliates to ensure that they're also complying with federal laws. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/11/globalnet.htm
BIZ OPP FLOP. A U.S. District Court, granting the FTC's request, has issued a temporary restraining order to halt a Costa Rican operation that used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, shell corporations, aliases, and shills to con U.S. consumers into investing in a bogus business opportunity. The court also has frozen the defendants’ assets, and appointed a receiver, who shut down the toll-free and U.S. phone lines used to market the scheme.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/11/usabeverage.htm
ALERTA EN LINEA. The FTC has launched a new Spanish-language consumer education campaign to help consumers stay safe online. The campaign, Alerta en Linea, is part of a broad initiative developed by the FTC, other federal agencies, the technology industry, online marketers, and consumer advocates and includes a website, www.alertaenlinea.gov, a glossary of terms, tips, articles, videos, and interactive activities. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/11/alertaenlinea.htm
ONGUARD ONLINE POSTER. Poster for the Stop Think Click campaign, describing seven practices for safe computing. http://onguardonline.gov/docs/poster.pdf
PARE. PIENSE. HAGA CLIC. 7 PRACTICAS PARA USAR SU COMPUTADORA DE MANERA SEGURA. (Stop. Think. Click.) Brochure describes seven practices for safe computing with tips to help computer users secure their computers, protect their personal information and be on guard against Internet fraud. 12 pages. http://alertaenlinea.gov/docs/s-stopthinkclick.pdf
OFRECIMIENTOS DE PERÍODO DE PRUEBA: LO IMPORTANTE ESTÁ EN LOS DETALLES (Trial Offers: the Deal in the the Details). Brochure explains the difference between conditional trial offers and free trial offers. 4 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/spanish/products/s-trialoffers.htm
It's no secret that browsing and buying online can save time, money and effort. The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, says shoppers who stop and think before they click can prevent an online Scrooge from interfering with their purchases and ultimately, their holiday fun. The FTC and the technology industry recently launched OnguardOnline, a campaign to help consumers integrate online safety into their daily online routines. Among the tips from OnguardOnline.gov are:
1. Know who you're dealing with. Anyone can set up shop online.
2. Read between the lines and check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates.
3. Calculate the costs and pay by credit or charge card. Do not send cash under any circumstances.
4. Don't email your financial information. It's not a secure method of transmitting personal or financial information like your credit card, checking account or your Social Security number.
5. Use anti-virus software and a firewall and update them regularly.
For more information about holiday shopping online, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/shopalrt.htm
NUMBERS TO KNOW
FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.
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