TINA.org’s Glossary

AAPR

Annual percentage rate; the amount of interest charged to a credit card, loan or mortgage account balances annually.

ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority, abbreviated ASA, is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Chicago-based organization of nutritionists and dietitians as well as health care providers, educators, and students. Some controversy has arisen from the organization’s acceptance of a reportedly small amount of money from sugary food companies, including Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Mars, Kellogg’s, and others. Formerly known as the American Dietetic Association.

Acai Berry

A magical fruit that is advertised as the natural cure-all for any possible ailment; usually found in ads featuring beautiful, exotic women.

Account Fraud

There are two basic forms of account fraud – the misuse of a victim’s existing account, and the opening of a new account in the victim’s name. According to FTC research, about three-fourths of identity theft victims report that the thief misused only their existing accounts.1 One-fourth of the victims report that the thief opened new accounts or committed other types of fraud with the victim’s personal information. Credit card accounts are the most commonly misused existing account. Telephone accounts, usually wireless, are the most common type of new account opened by identity thieves. Identity thieves also open or raid bank accounts, Internet payment accounts, and auto, personal, or student loan accounts.

Accredited

A certification process and quality assurance method that’s designed to distinguish schools that comply with a set of educational standards.  But not all accreditation agencies are created equal.  Many are recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as being reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions they accredit.  Those are the ones you want to see when you’re evaluating a school.  Others are unrecognized and some are completely made up, and scam artists will claim their school is accredited by such organizations to make it seem like their institution is legitimate and well-respected when, in reality, it’s a sham.

Activia

The yogurt that will treat any and all digestive problems; Jamie Lee Curtis’ favorite snack – she loved Activia so much she traded her credibility for it.

Actual damages

Compensation for losses that are proven to have occurred.

Advertising Standards Authority

The Advertising Standards Authority, abbreviated ASA, is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.

Advertising Standards Canada

Canada’s primary self-regulatory body for the advertising industry.

Adware

A software program that generates advertising-related windows in your internet browser; such programs generate revenue for the developers of such applications by producing ad content that is designed to match the interests exhibited in your online surfing habits.

Alcohol Justice

An independent, non-profit organization that monitors business and marketing activity within the alcohol (beer, wine, and spirits) industry; the organization was known as the Marin Institute until 2011.

Amazon

In actuality a cherished geographical region of the planet featuring enormous biodiversity; now synonymous with an e-commerce site where you can buy virtually any product known to man.

American Family Publishers

Now-defunct enterprise famously promoted by the likes of Ed McMahon and Dick Clark that marketed magazine subscriptions throughout the United States until the late-1990’s. The organization’s tactics generated heavy scrutiny in the media after reports of elderly Americans driving to Florida to claim cash prizes that they ‘had already won.’ After years of intense pressure from state Attorneys General, the company closed its doors in 1998.

American Idol

Hour-long commercial for Coca-Cola, pop-artists promoting their latest release and soon-to-be pop-artists promoting their potential fan power.

Ameriquest

Spectacularly-successful financial services company whose business model was based on selling mortgages to families that couldn’t afford them, then selling those worthless mortgage instruments into the financial markets, eventually helping to undermine the soundness of the American economy. Ironically, the company advertised widely on TV with the slogan, ‘Proud sponsor of the American dream.’

Angie’s List

Publicly-traded company that provides members with what it terms \”reliable\” ratings and reviews of local service providers (lawn care, contractors, etc.) around the country.

AnnualCreditReport.com

The single, legitimate FTC-endorsed site for consumers to obtain a free credit report to which they are entitled annually. The site is a production of Central Source, LLC, a joint venture of major credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

Arbitrator

A person chosen to settle a dispute or differences between parties.

Aspirational Picture

A completely nonsensical term used to describe advertising images frequently appearing in print ads for cosmetics explaining that the appearance of the model in the picture is not based in reality and has instead been so digitally doctored as to make the claims being expressed or implied in the ad completely worthless.

Asterisk (*)

We don’t really mean what we just said. You need to find me (if you can) in the very small print at the bottom of the page and learn about what we really meant but didn’t say before the asterisk.

At Your Own Risk

A term that will occasionally appear in the fine print of marketing materials for products whose manufacturers clearly don’t think much of their own product.

Attorney General

The chief law enforcement official in each one of the 50 states; also refers to the person heading the federal government’s Justice Department

AutoCheck

One of a number of web sites you can use to generate a vehicle history report for a car you are thinking about buying. An AutoCheck report can be used to validate mileage and examine the accident history of the car. As of 2012, the price for a single report is in the $30 range.

Automated E-mail Harvester

Like a regular harvester, but instead of combing a field for crops, an automated e-mail harvester combs the internet for e-mail addresses using a computer program.

Avatar

A graphic alter ego you create to use online; can be a 3D character or a simple icon, human or whimsical

amicus curiae

(Latin for “friend of the courts.”) A person or organization that is not a party to a lawsuit but has a significant interest in the case and offers information that may be important to the court’s determination.

BB Corporation

B Corporation: known as a benefit corporation, B Corps are for-profit corporations that must consider their impact not only on shareholders, but also on employees, the community, and the environment, and they must publicly document their performance in these areas using established standards.

BCC

Blind Carbon Copy. The BCC field in an e-mail editor can be used to send a copy of an e-mail to a list of recipients without allowing each of the recipients to see who else got a copy. It’s a way of being discreet (or sneaky).

BHA (or Butylated hydroxyanisole)

A known-carcinogen that is sometimes found, alarmingly, in products as diverse as pet food and cosmetics.

BHT (or Butylated hydroxtoluene)

Like BHA (Butylated hydroxanisole), a known-carcinogen that some producers of cosmetics and pet food use to manufacture their products.

Backing up

Making copies of computer data in case something happens to your machine or operating system and the information is lost.

Badware

Bad software; includes viruses and spyware that steal your personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. (See Malware.)

Bald Eagle

Majestic bird whose image is shamelessly appropriated in ads to create a connection in consumers’ minds between their product and the United States of America

Banner Ad

An online ad (which may or may not be in the shape of a banner) that, when clicked, will take you to the advertiser’s website. Has the distinction of being one of the first kinds of internet advertising.

Behavioral targeting

A technique used by online advertisers where they capture data generated by website visitors in order to make their marketing more effective

Birth Date

See Date of Birth

Blimp

A curious form of air transportation – accommodating all of 2 people or so – whose only mission in the current era appears to be to sell Goodyear tires and provide 15 seconds worth of video footage during a 4-hour professional football broadcast.

Blocking

Refers to a victim’s right under §605B of the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prevent information that is the result of identity theft from appearing on her credit report.

Blocking software

A program to filter content from the internet and restrict access to sites or content based on specific criteria

Blogger

A person who maintains an online blog (see blog).

Britney Spears

Pop-tart musician who is as prolific a product endorser as she is a recording artist. Products that she has endorsed include soft drinks, fragrances, dolls, video games, shoes, and clothing, to name just a few. Ms. Spears was the object of some derision and ridicule when it was learned that her role as the leading pitch-person for Pepsi didn’t prevent her from repeatedly being caught drinking Coke products in public.

Buddy list

A list of people who you can chat with through an instant messaging program

Bulgari

A high-end luxury goods and jewelry retailer, which has the distinction of managing to compromise the fiction genre of literature in a manner perhaps unparalleled in the history of the publishing industry – Fay Weldon’s 2001 novel, The Bulgari Connection, accepted compensation for naming the novel after the brand – and mentioning the brand at least 12 times throughout the course of the story. Apparently just naming the book after the company wasn’t enough

Burnout Paradise

A video game published by gaming developer Electronic Arts that has the distinction of being the first video game to include a paid advertisement from a United State Presidential candidate when U.S. Senator Barack Obama paid for space on a billboard that appeared within the game.

bench trial

A trial in which the judge (as opposed to a jury) hears the case and renders a decision on the facts as well as the law.

blog

Short for a web log, a blog is a kind of online diary that normal, everyday people can maintain to share details of their life or discuss their interests. A word of warning, though – a ‘blog’ that may appear to from a normal working mom in Nebraska, may actually be an advertising scheme by a company to promote its product(s) under the guise of a neutral, third-party endorsement.

business opportunity

Too frequently, the term proves to be simply a euphemism for sending your money along to an unknown person or company and then watching your money magically disappear

CCARU

CARU, or the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, keeps tabs on advertising directed at children, and issues recommendations to advertisers when ads are deceptive or target children unfairly. But because the CARU is a self-regulatory group, advertisers can ignore its recommendations. CARU is administered by the Council for Better Business Bureaus.

CFCs

Chlorofluorocarbons; CFCs, which contain chlorine, fluorine, and carbon, have been implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer.

COPPA

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act; it gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids under 13

Calvin Klein

Infamous for ads featuring under-nourished, strung-out looking young people and plastering those photos all over magazines and large billboards. Rumors that the company is somehow involved in the clothing industry have been disputed by observers who point out that the young people appearing in Calvin Klein ads normally aren’t wearing much in the way of clothing.

Carfax

Virginia-headquartered company that provides vehicle reports for consumers in the market for new cars and trucks. By entering a vehicle identification number (VIN) in the company’s online search function, a consumer can obtain information relating to the car’s collision history, any occurrence of flood damage, or whether it has been subject to odometer tampering. The company’s service competes with AutoCheck and a service in the Canadian market, CarProof.

Carte Blanche

James Bond novel published in 2011 that saw our hero’s exacting automotive standards compromised by a product placement deal with Ian Fleming Publications. Bentley reportedly paid an undisclosed sum to ensure that 007 would drive a Bentley Continental in the novel, as opposed to the kinds of Aston Martin or BMW models that Mr. Bond has been known to drive in the past.

Cash Call

Company that grew infamous by flooding the late-night television airwaves with ads featuring beleaguered actor Gary Coleman pitching loans featuring annual percentage rates of over 99%. Uh, Congress, you may want to look at the usury laws you currently have on the books

Change.org

The online petition site, Change.org, is a for-profit, B corporation that makes money by running campaigns for organizations that are willing to pay for access to Change.org’s users’ personal information, which includes their name, e-mail address, and mailing address. According to its privacy policy, “[i]f you sign a petition … even if you uncheck the box “Display my signature publicly”, your Personal Information may be delivered to the intended recipient of such campaign and/or the creator of such campaign either electronically or in writing ….” It is estimated that Change.org will have revenues of $15 million in 2012.

Chat room

An online space where you can meet and exchange information through messages displayed on the screens of others who are in the \”room.\”

Chronic Identity Theft

Also known as “revictimization.” Occurs when a victim’s identity is used more than once, often by different identity thieves, thereby forcing the victim to address repeatedly the identity theft-related problems.

Click-through-rates

Number of clicks an online ad received divided by the number of times the ad is shown. Usually expressed as a percentage, CRT is used by marketers to measure the effectiveness of an ad.

Consent order

An order that has been agreed to by both parties to a legal dispute.

Consumer Sentinel Network

An online database of consumer complaints that’s managed by the Federal Trade Commission and made available to consumer protection and law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad.

Consumers Union

Non-profit organization that publishes Consumer Reports magazine. Consumers Union is user-supported, its publications accepting no advertising dollars and no product samples of any kind (Consumer Reports pays for all of the products it tests). Consumers Union even forbids advertisers from using its publications’ product reviews in any kind of ad media.

Cookie

A browser or web cookie collects and stores information about a website user’s activity that can be used for future visits to the site. It can store benign information like the fact that you’ve logged in or visited certain links, but it can also be used to collect information you may not want people to know.

Coral Calcium

If you believe the late-night ads, the nutrient is a ‘cure’ for a wide range of serious diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease

Credit Freeze

A right provided by many states that allows identity theft victims and sometimes other consumers to block the access to the consumer’s credit report by potential creditors, among others. The CRAs make this right available for a fee to consumers who reside in states that do not specifically provide the right to freeze.

Credit Repair

A financial services product that clearly was created by a magician, since it’s a complete illusion – a product that isn’t really there. Ads promoting such illusions will frequently appear on the internet and via e-mail, persuade you to spend your money in order to improve your credit score or remove derogatory (i.e., negative) items from your credit report, then just as suddenly make your money disappear

Credit Reporting Agency

(Also known as a “CRA” Consumer Reporting Agency, and Credit Bureau.) A company that provides, assembles, and evaluates consumer credit information for the purpose of furnishing reports to third parties. Typically used to refer to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. But see “Specialty Consumer Reporting Agency.”

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft occurs when someone uses the victim’s name and information as his own during an investigation, issuance of a ticket, or arrest by law enforcement. This may lead to the issuance of warrants or the entrance of guilty pleas in the victim’s name. (For more information, see Section IV.B.)

Criminal sanctions

Punishment for violating criminal laws.

Cyberbullying

Bullying or harassment that takes place online; includes posting embarrassing pictures or unkind comments on a person’s profile or sending them via instant message or email

celebrity

The magic dust that turns any commercial for a product into a veritable event that allows us to transcend our normal, everyday lives and take us away to an existence of utter beauty, complete comfort, enormous homes, and luxurious cars. Not.

competent and reliable scientific evidence

Tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified persona and that are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

contrepreneurs

Marketers who use hyped-up promises to sell business opportunities to people eager to be their own boss.

coupon settlement

A settlement in a lawsuit that provides the plaintiff(s) with coupons or vouchers towards the purchase of another product or service from the company being sued, instead of providing the plaintiff(s) with cash refunds.

cramming

The practice of charging customers for cell phone services that they did not request or approve.

credit card

A magical piece of plastic made by banks that is sent to your home (normally accompanied with countless pages of fine print disclosures) that allows you to buy virtually anything

credit offer

A very basic, primary way that financial institutions and retailers seek to separate you from your money. Thanks to interest, billing cycles, and extended repayment terms, credit products allow such companies to successfully absorb your money so slowly that, over the long-term, you may not even notice that you’re paying considerably more for your purchases than you would have otherwise.

credit report

(Sometimes called a “Consumer Report.”) A communication of any information by a credit reporting agency that bears on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used to or expected to be used to establish a consumer’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, or other purposes. Typically refers to the reports generated by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. But see “Specialty Consumer Reporting Agency.”

cy pres

(French for “as near as possible”): a legal doctrine that requires a judge to consider the manner in which unclaimed settlement funds in class action lawsuits are distributed. Under this doctrine, the remaining funds must be distributed for the indirect benefit of the class instead of benefiting the defendant.

DDSA

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is a national trade association for direct selling companies that primarily use multi-level marketing compensation plans.

Date of Birth

One of two pieces of personal information that you should never disclose to an untrusted third party

David Beckham

Veritable product endorsement machine

Day Trading

Curious art of rapidly buying and selling stocks

Denial-of-service attacks

Make a website or internet resource unavailable or non-functional, generally by bombarding it with traffic/bogus requests or disrupting components

Diet

A weight loss program that involves nothing more complex than simply consuming fewer calories and getting more exercise

Disgorgement

The forced giving up of profits that were wrongfully obtained.

Distilled Spirits

Drinkable liquid containing ethanol that is produced by distilling, or less commonly freeze distilling, fermented grain, fruit, or vegetables (beer and wine are not distilled).

Dodd-Frank

Officially, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which is a bit ironic, since it didn’t reform Wall Street or protect consumers.

Drip Pricing

A way of listing prices online so as to make them seem lower than they really are by waiting until the end of the checkout process to add extra fees or charges. Drip pricing makes it difficult to comparison shop by hiding the true cost of a purchase.

dead people

Some of the advertising industry’s most prolific product endorsers. The estates of such celebrities as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Albert Einstein, Fred Astaire, and countless others generated well over $2.0 billion in endorsement revenue as recently as 2009, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Nice work if you can get it

debt

The only shortcoming of living beyond one’s means. Ultimately, though, costs associated with debt repayment (fees, interest, etc.) diminish consumers’ ability to spend

disclaimer

(See Fine Print).

downline

A term most frequently used in association with multilevel marketing, it describes all the distributors who have been recruited to work under another distributor. Generally, distributors make money from the sales of all the other distributors below them in the business.

EEmployment Identity Theft

Some identity thieves use a victim’s Social Security for employment. Identity thieves might use another person’s identity if they have a criminal record that might prevent their being hired, or if they do not have legal status to work in this country. When this happens, the employer reports income earned by the thief to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) using the victim’s SSN, thereby creating income tax liability for the victim. (For more information on resolving identity theft-related questions with the IRS and the SSA, see Section IV.D and E.)

Envelope Stuffing

One of a host of notorious work-at-home scams (others include data entry, online surveys, mystery shopping, and medical billing, among many others). The pitch’s appeal stems from its uncanny coupling of the simplicity of stuffing an envelope (anyone can do it!) with the prospect of making tons of money working in the comfort of your own home.

Equifax

One of the primary consumer credit reporting agencies, Experian and TransUnion being the other two.

Equitable relief

A remedy imposed by a judge, rather than a specific law, in order to correct a “wrong.”

Escrow service

A service to protect both a buyer and seller by holding money for payment until a transfer of goods or property is complete.

Ethoxyquin

We thought that it must be a prescription-only supplement to render ethically-challenged investment bankers less heartless and greedy, but in fact it’s a known carcinogen that

Exemplary damages

See Punitive damages.

Experian

One of the primary consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion being the other two.

Extended Warranty

An extension of any existing warranty offered as a part of a product’s purchase price. Consumers should consider carefully whether the kind of product that they’re purchasing really requires the kind of coverage that an extended warranty would offer

FFCBA

See Fair Credit Billing Act.

FCRA

See Fair Credit Reporting Act.

FDA Class I

Class I recall: a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death

FDCPA

See Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

FICO Score

Among the most powerful forces in our universe, it wields clout in a manner normally matched only by Darth Vader. Our FICO scores play a major role in determining whether we’ll be able to secure the kind of financing that will allow us to purchase a car, washer/dryer, or home that we’ve had our eye on for the past few months. If you’re an adult with a Social Security number, you have a score and that score is a result of a number of variables, including the amount of debt that you currently have outstanding, the current level of credit that you currently have available to you, and the length of your credit history. The higher your score, the more likely it is that you will be approved for a new consumer loan and the less costly it will be for you to obtain that loan (i.e., your interest rate on a new consumer loan will be lower than it would be otherwise).

FTC

Established in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson, the FTC is the United States government’s primary regulatory authority in the area of consumer protection and anti-competitive business practices in the marketplace. Its Bureau of Consumer Protection assumes the lead in the Commission’s efforts to eliminate deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices at work in the economy.

Facebook

The addictive online social networking site that posts advertisements, then uses those ads to print money. Have you ever wondered why Facebook has never cost you a single cent to use? Well, except for that one time when you lost your job because you were spending too much time on the site

Fair Credit Billing Act

Also known as “FCBA.” Federal law, codified at 15 U.S.C. §1601 et seq., that provides rights and procedures that arise in relation to disputes regarding “open end” credit accounts, such as credit cards and revolving charge accounts.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

Also known as “FCRA.” Federal law, codified at 15 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., which establishes rights and duties with respect to credit reporting agencies.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The foundation of the regulatory structure that governs the way that the credit histories of consumers are reported to companies extending credit in the United States. The Act places limitations and restrictions on the way both consumer information and credit information is collected and shared by the major credit reporting agencies and other specialty credit reporting organizations that operate in such fields as insurance, housing, and medicine, among others. Violations of the Act can result in consumers being compensated for actual damages, and/or punitive damages, depending on whether the violation committed was willful or negligent.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Also known as “FDCPA.” Federal law, codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p, which requires that debt collectors treat debtors fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection.

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act

The legal basis for every American’s right to review their credit report from each of the three leading credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year for free. You can visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request your reports

Federal Trade Commission

Federal government agency charged with enforcing various consumer protection laws and overseeing identity-theft related matters. Information on the FTC’s identity theft programs can be found at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Self-regulatory body

Firewall

Hardware or software that blocks unauthorized communications to or from your computer; helps keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission

Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. federal government’s primary regulatory authority in a wide range of areas, including pharmaceuticals, vaccines, food safety, medical devices, and even cosmetics. The FDA takes the lead in reviewing both product claims made on the part of advertisers and complaints from the general public.

Foreign Lottery

E-mail, telemarketing or internet scam letting you know that you have won some fantastic sum of money (‘you’ve won $26.4 million dollars!’) and indicating that all that’s necessary to collect your cash prize is payment of a fee to ‘cover’ processing-related charges, taxes, and other transaction costs. You have a 100% chance of losing and even worse, participating in foreign lotteries is illegal.

Fred Astaire

Although dead, the Dirt Devil line of housecleaning equipment’s leading endorser. Known to millions in his Dirt Devil role due to his presence in a widely-broadcast television commercial, he reportedly was also an actor of some renown during the 20th century.

Free

An advertising term used to lure you into buying something that’s not free. A mythical concept, much like time travel and bigfoot.

Free Trial Offer

A trial that’s not free

Free*

NOT Free; see definition of the word ‘asterisk’ or ‘free.’

Freemium

A business model that provides basic, useful features at no cost, but also offers premium features for a fee.

Functional food

A food to which a new ingredient has been added in order to give the food an additional function (usually a health-related function.

Furnisher

Also known as an “Information Furnisher.” A creditor, debt collector, or other company that reports information about a consumer’s credit payment history to a Credit Reporting Agency. For example, Joan Q. Consumer obtains a copy of her credit report from ABC Credit Bureau. The report shows that she was thirty days late in paying her XYZ credit card bill. ABC Credit Bureau is the credit reporting agency, and XYZ Credit Corp. is the furnisher of that payment information history

farticle

News sites and articles that appear legitimate but are actually fake.

fine print

Sometimes termed “mouse print” or, more benignly, “disclosure language”, and presented in miniscule font. It is there to take back every enticing offer made in the ad.

franchise

A business form that involves an entrepreneur (the ‘franchisee’) partnering with a large, established company (the ‘franchisor’) to open and run one or more of the company’s stores. These stores are a kind of one-size-fits-all proposition, with real limits placed on the way that the entrepreneur (the franchisee) can run the business and present the company’s brand to the public. In return, the entrepreneur is assured that he or she will have exclusive rights to a given geographic area in which the franchisor will award no further franchises, thereby limiting the amount of competition that the entrepreneur will have to face in the marketplace. When considering entering into a franchise agreement, entrepreneurs should proceed very carefully and closely examine the disclosure documents that the franchisor is required by to share by law with prospective partners prior to the signing of any deal.

GGPS

“Global Positioning System,” a global navigation satellite system that is used in cars or phones to determine location and provide directions

General damages

Money awarded in a lawsuit for injuries suffered.

greenwashing

The practice of making something sound better for the environment than it really is.

guarantee

A written, legally-enforceable representation that a product or service will meet a given standard of quality and/or performance. A word that, whether used in its noun, verb, or adjective form by advertisers, should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism by consumers

HHome Shopping Network (HSN)

The station that since 1977, has allowed us to sit in our living rooms and watch an endless stream of commercials.

Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF)

A non-profit dedicated to assisting homeowners in saving their homes. HPF can be reached at (888) 995-HOPE and their bilingual services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Honey Nut Chex Mix

General Mills’ magical Chex Mix that managed to contain no nuts. The company would point out that the product does contain both honey and Chex – and that there is a mix involved. Hey, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad!

hacking

Breaking into a computer or network by evading or disabling security measures

hactivist

Someone who uses computers and computer networks to promote political ends, such as free speech or human rights. The word is a portmanteau of “hack” and “activist.”

IIdentity Theft Affidavit

A document designed to help victims establish their identity with creditors and substantiate their narrative of the fraud. Victims can use the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to dispute accounts or transactions caused by the identity theft at the institutions where the fraudulent transactions occurred. Note – The Identity Theft Affidavit can be printed from the FTC’s Website, either as a blank pdf form, or as a completed form. Victims who file a complaint online with the FTC can print the Affidavit filled with most of the information they entered. The Affidavit provides space to report multiple fraudulent accounts. When disputing fraudulent accounts or transactions with a particular company, the victim should consider providing to the company only information about the relevant accounts, possibly by redacting information about other accounts. Some companies require their own affidavit of identity theft forms.

Identity Theft Report

An official, valid law enforcement report that alleges the consumer’s identity theft with specificity. It can be used to invoke certain statutory rights, including blocking identity theft-related information from appearing in the victim’s credit report, preventing furnishers from continuing to furnish that information to any CRAs, preventing furnishers from selling or transferring the related debt for collection, and obtaining an extended fraud alert. An Identity Theft Report must contain sufficient detail for CRAs and information furnishers to verify the allegations of identity theft. To ensure that the Identity Theft Report contains sufficient detail, it is suggested that victims provide to law enforcement a completed Identity Theft Affidavit to attach to the police report. However, any police report containing sufficient detail can be an Identity Theft Report. For the purpose of obtaining an extended, seven-year fraud alert, which carries low risk of fraud, a completed Identity Theft Affidavit filed with the FTC and signed by the victim (but with no police involvement) provides sufficient detail. See Section II.B for more information about the Identity Theft Report.

Identity Theft Victims’ Complaint and Affidavit Form

A form available on the FTC’s Web site that is referred to elsewhere in this guide as the “Identity Theft Affidavit.” Technically, it bears the full title, “Identity Theft Victims’ Complaint and Affidavit” in recognition of its two functions: 1) when generated by the FTC’s online complaint system, it is a record of the victim’s complaint filed with the FTC; and, 2) it can be used as an Affidavit, i.e., a voluntary statement of facts, sworn to by affirmation of the consumer signing it. The form, displaying most of the information provided in the victim’s complaint, can be generated by completing the FTC Complaint Assistant, a guided interview process, or the blank form can be printed from the FTC Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/affidavit.pdf.

Injunction

A court order that requires a person or company to do a particular act or to refrain from doing a particular act. Example? A court order prohibiting a company from using an ad that’s been deemed deceptive.

Instant messaging (IM)

Enables two or more people to chat in real time, and notifies you when someone on your buddy list is online

Intellectual property

Creative products that have commercial value, including copyrighted property like books, photos, and songs

influencer marketing

When an individual (or cute pet) promotes a good or service, primarily on social media, because they were paid to do so, or because of a material connection between the person (or pet) and the company

inventory loading

Inventory loading is the practice of requiring participants to purchase merchandise in order to receive commissions.

LLTV

Loan To Value ratio. What mortgage lenders use to determine how risky a borrower is. The higher the number, the riskier the loan, and the higher the interest will be on that loan.

Lanham Act

Federal law that allows companies to sue other companies for false advertising (i.e., if they misrepresent the nature or qualities of their good or service in commercial advertising).

Limited user account

An online setting that grants someone access to some of the computer’s functions and programs, but allows only an administrator to make changes that affect the computer

lead generation

The practice of soliciting inquires from potential customers (leads), which might then convert into sales for the company. It is the first step in the sales process.

MMLM

Multi-Level Marketing – a way of distributing products or services in which the distributors earn income from their own retail sales and from retail sales made by their direct and indirect recruits.

MSRP

The price a manufacturer recommends its product should be sold for in retail stores.

Medical Identity Theft

In cases of medical identity theft, thieves use a victim’s name, and possibly insurance information to obtain medical services or goods. The victim is then saddled with proving she is not responsible for costly medical bills, or may find that the thief has exhausted the victim’s insurance coverage. Even worse, medical identity theft can have serious health consequences if the thief’s real or fictitious medical information is added to the victim’s medical records.

Missed Connection

A type of classified listing on Craigslist in which a person seeks out another person, usually someone he or she saw or met in a brief encounter, usually with romantic interest, usually on the L train.

Mixed File

A credit file that has been corrupted by the inclusion of information associated with other individuals. In the case of an identity theft victim, a mixed file can result when the identity thief’s application for credit provides a combination of the victim’s information and someone else’s information, such as using the victim’s Social Security number and name, but providing his own or someone else’s address, date of birth, or phone number. The victim’s file can be corrupted when the creditor furnishes this mixed information to the CRA.

Mortgage Fraud

Identity thieves can steal a victim’s identity in order to obtain a mortgage. In an emerging form of mortgage fraud, called “house stealing,” thieves target an occupied home, assume the owner’s identity, and have the home’s deed transferred to the thief’s name so that the victim no longer has ownership. NOTE:If you suspect house stealing, call the FBI immediately.

made in the USA

According to the FTC, if a product is marketed as “Made in The U.S.A.,” all or “substantially all” of the product must have been manufactured in the United States. The problem is that “substantially all” is not defined, so whether it means 99%, 75%, or a lower percentage is anyone’s guess. In an attempt to produce further guidance, the FTC has explained that “Made in The U.S.A.” also means that “the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content. So if all the parts are made in the U.S., but it’s assembled in Mexico with Chinese glue, is that “Made in The U.S.A.?”

malware

Short for “malicious software”; includes viruses and spyware that steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. (See Badware.)

NNAD

The National Advertising Division, or NAD, is the investigative unit of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory board. NAD asks advertisers to substantiate or change their claims in advertisements. As a self-regulating unit, however, its recommendations can be ignored by the offending advertisers. In those instances, NAD refers the offender to federal consumer protection agencies.

Noneconomic damages

Money awarded to recompense the person suing for intangible or immeasurable injuries, such as pain and suffering.

native advertising

Advertorials, or paid sponsored content, that may or may not be properly labeled as such.

negative-option offer

Recurring offers or subscriptions that continue to bill you until you take steps to shut down the account. These types of offers put the onus on the consumer to remember and to take action, allowing a company to keep gathering in cash from forgetful or busy customers. Be wary of these types of offers, and remember to stop services you no longer want.

OOnline Behavioral Advertising

A method used by advertisers to tailor advertisements based on a user’s online browsing or purchasing history.

PPDA

“Personal Digital Assistant” – can be used as a mobile phone, web browser, or portable media player

Password

A secret word or phrase used with a user name to grant access to your computer or protect sensitive information online

Patch

Software downloaded to fix or update a computer program

Pecuniary loss

See Actual damages.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing

Allows you to share files online

Phishing

A method of tricking consumers into handing over their personal information by posing as a legitimate entity.

Ponzi Scheme

A fraudulent investment operation that tricks investors into thinking that they will earn lots of money on a short-term investment, when, in reality, there isn’t any investment opportunity at all. Rather, the promoter just uses the money from new recruits to pay off the older investors. In other words, stealing from Peter to give to Paul.

Pornado

Endless stream of porn-related pop-up windows.

Punitive damages

Money awarded in order to punish the wrongdoer.

personal information

Data that can be used to identify you, like your name, address, birth date, or Social Security number

plug-in

A software component that customizes or adds features to the original application.

pop-up

An advertisement that pops up in a new window when you’re browsing the internet.

privacy settings

Controls available on many social networking and other websites that you can set to limit who can access your profile and what information visitors can see

profile

A personal page you create on a social networking or other website to share information about yourself and communicate with others

put options

A put option gives an investor the right to sell stock at a set price over a designated time frame, but the options expire at a certain point.

putative class

Putative Class = what the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit are called before the court has certified the class (i.e., has allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a class action).

pyramid scheme

An inherently deceptive form of multi-level marketing where participants are told they’ll get paid for recruiting other participants, and not necessarily for selling products or services. Typically, participants must pay some sort of initial investment in order to join, and will then earn a commission for each participant they recruit. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting consumers, pyramid schemes are doomed to collapse because the number of potential participants is limited.

RResults not typical

Fine print that will typically appear

Revictimization

Also known as “chronic identity theft,” occurs when a victim’s identity is used more than once, often by different identity thieves, thereby forcing the victim to repeatedly address the identity theft.

SSMS

“Short Message Service”, technology that allows text messages to be sent from one mobile phone to another

SMiShing

A text message-based solicitation that seeks to surreptitiously persuade targeted cell phone users to click on dangerous clinks and/or download malicious software that serves to compromise cell phone users’ personal information.

Sexting

Sending or forwarding sexually explicit pictures or messages from a mobile phone

Slacktivism

Slacktivism – doing charitable good in a convenient, minimally significant way, often while in one’s PJs. For example, slacktivists love signing online petitions or donating social media status updates.

Smart phone

A mobile phone that offers advanced capabilities and features like a web connection and a portable media player

Specialty Consumer Reporting Agency

(Sometimes known as a “Specialty CRA.”) Company that creates consumer reports on consumer information other than credit, such as medical conditions, residential or tenant history and evictions, check writing history, employment background checks, and homeowner and auto insurance claims.

Synthetic Identity Theft

Identity theft involves the thief impersonating the victim to obtain benefits. In some cases the thief does not steal the victim’s entire identity, but rather uses only the victim’s Social Security number, in combination with another person’s name and birth date, to create a new, fictitious identity. As a result, the victim may experience problems when the new identity tracks back to the victim’s credit or tax records. Because this type of fraud may not be reflected on a consumer’s credit report, it may not be discovered by the victim until many years later.

security software

Identifies and protects against threats or vulnerabilities that may compromise your computer or your personal information; includes anti-virus and anti-spyware software and firewalls

sidebar ad

Sidebar ads appear on the edge of a webpage.

slack-fill

You know when you buy a big bag of chips, and you’re all psyched for a feast, and then it turns out there are like, three chips in the bag? That bag is slack filled.

social networking site

A website that allows you to build a profile and connect with others

spyware

Software installed on your computer without your consent to monitor or control your computer use.

subliminal advertising

The practice of displaying images or words within an ad in a very subtle manner that is somehow concealed from the audience’s consciousness, yet still manages to have the effect of influencing members of that audience to act in some desired way, or not.

TTax Fraud

In this type of fraud, an identity thief files a tax return in the victim’s name in order to receive a refund or other payment, such as a stimulus check. If the thief files for the refund before the victim, the IRS may deny the victim’s rightful refund or stimulus check. (For more information, see Section IV.D.)

Texting

Sending short messages from one mobile phone to another

Trade Line

A section of a consumer report that provides information about an account such as when the account was opened and whether or not the consumer has made on-time payments on the account.

TransUnion

Along with Experian and Equifax, one of the three major nationwide consumer reporting agencies.

Treble damages

Three times the amount of actual damages.

Trust

A property held by one person for the benefit of another.

Tween

A child between 8 and 12 years old

UUser name

An alias used with a password to grant access to accounts and websites

unapproved drug treatment claims

Only drugs can be marketed as having the ability to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent or mitigate a disease, and the only way for a product to gain legit drug status is by getting FDA approval, which means any product that doesn’t get FDA approval can’t say it has the ability to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent or mitigate a disease.

upselling

Persuade a customer to buy addition or more expensive items.

VVemma

Vemma Nutrition Company is a privately held multi-level marketing company that sells energy drinks, nutritional beverages and weight management products. Vemma, which calls itself an affiliate marketing company, is based in Tempe, Arizona. It was founded in 2004 by Benson K. Boreyko and his sisters. Vemma is an acronym for vitamins, essential minerals, mangosteen and aloe.

Video calling

Internet services that allow users to communicate using webcams

Virtual world

A computer-simulated online ‘place’ where people use avatars

vanity sizing

Those 32-inch waist pants? The waist actually measures 36 inches around. And that size 4 dress? It’s really a size 8. Clothing makers label clothes as smaller than the true measurements to boost your ego.

viral

When a video (or song, or photo, etc.) “goes viral,” it becomes very popular very quickly. It gets shared from one person to their group of friends, from each of those friends to even more people, and so on, just like a virus.

virus

Malware that sneaks onto your computer

WWEP

Wired Equivalent Privacy. WEP is a security protocol for wireless networks. Unfortunately, it turns out to have some weaknesses that may leave your data vulnerable to attacks. WPA-2 is considered to be the more secure option.

WPA-2

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2. WPA-2 secures and encrypts your data while you surf the web wirelessly. Networks with this kind of security require password authentication from users.

Webcam

A video camera that can stream live video on the web; may be built into the computer or purchased separately

While Supplies Last

We’re advertising this item at a ridiculously low price to get you into the store/showroom, but we’re not likely to have any in stock by the time you get here, but that’s alright because we’ll just sell you something else.

Will

A document containing instructions on how a person’s property should be handled in the event of his or her death. Also, a reason to be nice to Great Auntie Sue.

with prejudice

When a complaint is dismissed with prejudice, it cannot be refiled.

without prejudice

When a complaint is dismissed without prejudice, an amended version of the complaint can be refiled.