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Sprint T-Mobile Merger Gets Green Light
February 13, 2020
A U.S. District judge has ruled that Sprint and T-Mobile, the nation's third- and fourth-largest mobile carriers, can go forward with a $25 billion merger. The deal will not close until the California Public Utilities Commission approves the transaction, but clearing this latest hurdle moves the two companies one step closer to a merger that has been years in the making.
Feds Seek Restraining Orders in Robocall Cases
January 30, 2020
The DoJ has filed complaints in two landmark cases calling for temporary restraining orders against five companies and three individuals alleged to have carried hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls to American consumers. "This is the first time the DoJ is taking legal action against anyone for facilitating fraudulent robocalls," said Liz Miller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Feds Plan Crackdown on Online Counterfeit Traffic
January 29, 2020
The United States Department of Homeland Security last week released a report outlining its plans to combat online counterfeit product sellers. The value of counterfeit goods traded internationally rose from $200 billion in 2005 to $509 billion in 2016, according to DHS. Infringing goods valued at $1.4 billion were seized at U.S. borders in 2018, compared with $94 million worth in 2003.
Business/Customer Sweet Spots: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 2
January 16, 2020
If you're a small business owner or a key member of an enterprise executive team, you want your firm to succeed. If you're a customer, you want to be treated well. Those goals are not diametrically opposed, but very often it seems that companies and customers are at cross-purposes. ECT News Network recently gathered together five technology experts who did some hard thinking on the subject.
Is Privacy Possible in 2020?
December 27, 2019
The California Consumer Protection Act goes into effect in 2020, and other state and federal laws are on the horizon -- but is it possible that these state laws will really provide us privacy? How many readers take the time to read the privacy policy, or click agreement, when they download a new version of an app on their smartphone or tablet? Probably none. What are the consequences?
Shield Healthcare: Serving the Poor, Poorly
December 23, 2019
Sometimes when you tug on the thread of a small customer service failure, you unravel a big skein of much knottier problems. That happened when Shield Healthcare didn't send "Great Aunt Nelly" her shipment of medical supplies on time. There are many people like Nelly in the U.S. -- elderly and disabled folks who depend in part or entirely on government assistance to get by.
EU Digital Czar to Probe Facebook's and Google's Data Wrangling
December 3, 2019
The European Union has launched a probe into how Google and Facebook gather, process, use and monetize data for advertising purposes. The European Commission has begun distributing questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google's and Facebook's data practices. Facebook and Google join Amazon as targets of the EU's "digital czar," Margrethe Vestager.
'Nightingale Project' to Turn Over Millions of Medical Records to Google
November 13, 2019
A venture between Google and Ascension, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, will give the tech giant access to the sensitive medical information of as many as 50 million patients in 21 states. Its venture with Google, called "The Nightingale Project," would enable it to improve the experience of patients, consumers, providers and associates, Ascension said.
Apple Card Algorithm May Tilt Favorably Toward Men
November 12, 2019
New York regulators have initiated an investigation into a tech entrepreneur's complaint that credit limits for the new Apple Card are based on gender-biased algorithms. The investigation, announced by DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell, apparently stems from a series of tweets David Heinemeier Hansson posted, revealing that his Apple Card credit limit was 20 times higher than his wife's.
Calling All Retailers - Ready or Not, CCPA Is on Its Way
November 9, 2019
We're just a few short months away from the California Consumer Privacy Act going into effect. The regulation brings privacy rights to residents in California and gives them control of their personal information and how companies can use it. Any business that sells to a California resident needs to be CCPA-compliant. Nearly every brick-and-mortar store nowadays has an e-commerce site.
Data Brokers' Secret Scores Can Cripple Consumers
November 6, 2019
Many businesses have been using secret scores created by data brokers to determine how much to charge consumers, whether to allow purchase returns, and what level of service to offer, among other things. "Most consumers will never know when they are the victim of a secret surveillance score," noted Laura Antonini, policy director at the Consumer Education Foundation.
FTC Targets Fake Influencer Metrics, Fake Reviews
October 23, 2019
The FTC announced settlements of a series of fraudulent marketing charges against two high-profile firms. The actions taken make it clear that anyone who engages in similar illegal behavior will face enforcement action, the FTC said. In the first case, Devumi agreed to settle the FTC's first-ever complaint challenging the sale of fake indicators of social media influence.
Capital One Discloses Massive Data Breach, Hacker Arrested
July 31, 2019
Capital One Financial Corporation has announced a data breach affecting some 100 million people in the U.S. and another 6 million in Canada. The FBI arrested the alleged perpetrator of the breach in Seattle. Capital One on July 19 discovered someone had accessed its data stored online and obtained personal information of credit card customers and people who had applied for credit card products.
Equifax Data Breach Settlement No Wrist Slap
July 23, 2019
The United States Federal Trade Commission announced that Equifax has agreed to pay a minimum of $575 million as part of a global settlement of claims against it arising from a 2017 data breach that affected 147 million Americans. The settlement with the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 states and territories potentially could reach $700 million.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
Cybercriminals Score Billions in Cryptocurrency Thefts
May 21, 2019
Is anyone surprised to learn that in just the first quarter of 2019 more than $1.2 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen? Probably not. This story follows the old line from bank robber Willie Sutton who is credited with saying that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is." So not much has changed. Cryptocurrencies are not exactly money, though, even if they do have a market value.
Flexa Launches Crypto-Based Payment App
May 14, 2019
Flexa has launched a new digital payment network that uses cryptocurrencies to cut processing costs, eliminate fraud and preserve users' privacy. The network uses Flexa's Spedn app to process consumer transactions at cooperating merchants. The new payment platform makes it possible to spend Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and the Gemini dollar at any of the merchants currently accepting payments.
The Critical Role of Artificial Intelligence in Payments Tech
May 2, 2019
Long an obsession of science fiction writers, "artificial intelligence" in the modern era of fast-paced technological innovation is a term that is as ubiquitous as it is nebulous. For the payments technology industry, however, the term describes advanced analytical technology that has an outsized potential to improve the payments ecosystem for banks, payments processors, merchants and consumers.
Cybersecurity Pros Join 'Right to Repair' Battle
May 2, 2019
An advocacy organization formed by cybersecurity professionals has joined the fight for "right to repair" legislation, which would allow consumers and third parties to repair electronic equipment without voiding manufacturers' warranties. Legislators in about 20 states have been working on some form of this legislation, but they have been stymied by a number of tech companies and industry groups.
How Customer Expectations Contribute to Fraud and Losses
April 25, 2019
Contemporary online retail enables faster, smoother and more profitable interactions between consumers and merchants. Individuals can shop and make purchases at any time, from any location, with the help of the devices resting in their pockets. Plus, with innovations like same-day shipping, IoT-connected devices, and much more, it's never been easier to be a consumer.
Hackers Use Microsoft Help Desk to Pull Off Massive Email Breach
April 16, 2019
Hackers piggybacked onto a Microsoft customer support portal between Jan. 1 and March 28 to gain access to the emails of noncorporate account holders on webmail services Microsoft manages, including MSN.com, Hotmail.com and Outlook.com. Microsoft has confirmed that a "limited" number of customers who use its Web service had their accounts compromised.
Warren Dons Tech-Buster Mantle
March 12, 2019
Tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple would be broken up under a proposal from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "Today's big tech companies have too much power -- too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy," the Democratic presidential hopeful wrote in an online post. Warren has called for legislative remedies to address the problems.
August Adds Wireless HD Video Doorbell to Smart Home Line
March 6, 2019
The August View is a wireless doorbell that can stream sharp 1440p HD video. It supports two-way audio, so you can talk to guests via an Internet connection. The View can be paired with August and Connected by August smart locks. That means you not only can speak to visitors remotely, but also can let them into your house. That functionality can be handy for accepting package deliveries.
Amazon Brings Big Guns to Battle Against Counterfeit Products
March 1, 2019
Amazon has announced Project Zero, a program that empowers vendors to help drive counterfeits down. The anti-counterfeit campaign will employ Amazon's advanced technology, machine learning and innovation. Amazon will partner with Project Zero's participating vendors to protect their intellectual property by detecting and removing counterfeits of their products.
Wireless Carriers Caught Playing Fast and Loose With Location Data
February 8, 2019
AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have sold access to subscribers' real-time location data to aggregators, which in turn have sold it to about 250 bounty hunters and related businesses, according to a report. In some cases, the data allowed users to track individuals to their specific locations inside a building. Some companies made thousands of location requests to data brokers.
US Mobile Phones Flooded With Robocalls
January 31, 2019
Americans received 26.3 billion robocalls on their mobile phones in 2018, according to Hiya. That was 46 percent more than in 2017. Consumers received an average of 10 spam calls per month, Hiya found. The top unwanted call in the U.S. was for the Wangiri, or "one-ring" scam, which grew 250 percent year over year. Seven of the top area codes targeted by spammers were in Texas.
Chinese Scammers Game Amazon to Boost Sales
December 18, 2018
Chinese sellers have been using a number of underhanded techniques to boost their global rankings and profits on Amazon, according to a report. Grabbing the high ground on a search results page is critical for any seller trying to rise above the din created by the more than 500 million products offered on Amazon, which is why some sellers feverishly search for ways to get an edge in the rankings.
Quora Looks for Answers in Wake of Massive Data Breach
December 5, 2018
The personal data of some 100 million people who have used Quora, a popular question and answer website, has been compromised, the company disclosed. "We recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to one of our systems by a malicious third party," wrote Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo in an online post. "We are working rapidly to investigate the situation."
How to Use a VPN for Safer Online Shopping
December 4, 2018
With the holidays fast approaching, are you looking to buy presents online? The holiday season has become synonymous with online shopping. This isn't really surprising as physical stores usually attract crowds of deal hunters. This often conjures up images of throngs of people waiting in line outside the store, some even camping out. This activity is tolerable for some and even fun for others.
10 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Retirement to a Scam
November 19, 2018
Several years ago, my wife and I invested in a project called "Sanctuary Belize" and, like many of the investors, we were incredibly excited about the prospect of retiring in paradise. After a time, things just weren't adding up. The company supposedly put controls in place to reverse course, but we exited the project. As it turned out, those controls either were not put in place or failed.
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NICE inContact February 12 webinar
How concerned are you about online disinformation during the U.S. presidential election cycle?
Very concerned -- Internet companies haven't done enough to address the issue.
Very concerned -- there's really no effective way to counter it.
Somewhat concerned -- companies have stepped up to lessen the impact.
Somewhat concerned -- voters are less naive this time around.
Not at all concerned -- the threat is overblown.
Not at all concerned -- voters have learned to fact-check for themselves.
NICE inContact February 12 webinar