FTC and Partners Urge Consumers to Be On Guard Online

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The Federal Trade Commission 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. A comprehensive OnGuardOnline.gov Web site has tips, articles, videos, and interactive activities that will address topics such as:

  • How to recognize scams on the Internet;
  • How to shop securely online;
  • How to avoid hackers and viruses; and
  • How to deal with spam, spyware, phishing, and peer-to-peer file-sharing.

The partnership also has developed an OnGuard Online brochure.

Using straightforward, plain-language materials, the initiative aims to help computer users be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal information.

“Consumer education is critical to our success in securing the Web against hackers, viruses, spam, and spyware. Education truly is the first line of defense for computer users against fraud and deception online,” said Deborah Platt Majoras, Chairman of the FTC. “An aware computer user is more likely to recognize a phishing e-mail, more likely to download a spyware detector, and far less likely to disclose, expose, or unwittingly share personal information,” she said.

Majoras said that partnership efforts to develop and promote the OnGuard Online message include:

  • Microsoft helped develop the OnGuard Online branding and contributed a series of security videos for the site. In October, the company will place advertorials promoting OnGuard Online in major newspapers. MSN also is going to run OnGuard Online banner ads.

  • i-SAFE, a congressionally chartered organization that provides age-appropriate curricula to schools, is incorporating OnGuard Online’s messages into its curricula and is distributing OnGuard Online materials at its events.

  • In Oregon, U.S. Attorney Karen Immergut and State Attorney General Hardy Myers have convened the Oregon Safe Cyberspace Initiative. Comcast and Qwest, participants in the initiative, are sending hundreds of thousands of bill stuffers to their customers in Oregon with information on safe computing.

  • EBay is posting a letter to its members promoting OnGuard Online, as well as buttons linking to the site.

  • The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will place magazine ads asking consumers to “Stop, Think, Click.” People who call the toll-free number in the ads will receive a copy of the “Seven Practices for Safer Computing.”

  • The Direct Marketing Association is co-branding the “Seven Practices” brochure and sharing copies with consumers and the association’s members.

The OnGuard Online Web site is at www.OnGuardOnline.gov.

Copies of OnGuard Online materials are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.onguardonline.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. OnGuard Online provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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