Once again tapping into a favorite resource this week’s blog shares a recent article posted on the Onguardonline.gov website. The article by Carol Kando-Pineda, Counsel, Division of Consumer and Business Education, focuses on mobile technologies.
Kando-Pineda asks: “Have you ever snagged a great deal right from your tablet? Or maybe you’ve donated to a charity from your phone?” She goes on to point out adopters of these opportunities will know first-hand that mobile technologies give us unprecedented efficiency and convenience. The FTC is addressing the issues that affect consumers as new mobile technologies come on the scene. The Commission has sued companies that have broken the law, held workshops about mobile commerce, and issued several reports documenting the state of mobile privacy, security, and consumer protection.
The FTC and its sister government agency, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put out a call to learn more about financial services and mobile technology, especially as used by undeserved consumers. Among the highlights about the challenges consumers face when using mobile financial services:
Liability. Mobile transactions involving prepaid or stored value accounts might not give consumers the same liability protections they expect from other transactions. The FTC’s mobile payments workshop and its follow-up reports stressed the importance of giving consumers clear information about resolving disputes and their liability for unauthorized charges. The reports noted that people who don’t use traditional banks are heavy users of mobile financial products.
Cramming. Mobile billing – being able to charge a payment directly to your mobile phone account – can be very helpful for consumers, especially those who don’t use credit cards. But fraud has become a problem. Unauthorized charges can be crammed onto bills.
Privacy and security. Mobile technology can make a financial transaction more secure, but not all companies take advantage of that enhanced security. Mobile technologies also can raise unique privacy concerns because many companies are involved in the mobile payment ecosystem and they collect a lot of data. The FTC has surveyed the practices of data brokers that buy and sell consumer data and has taken legal actions against mobile apps for misstating how they collected and used consumer data.
As always, the best advice is to be vigilant.
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