NCL proud of Treasury choice to place Harriet Tubman on new $20 bill – National Consumers League

SG_HEADSHOT.jpgThe National Consumers League (NCL) applauds U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s decision to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. We had campaigned for our pioneering early leader, Florence Kelley (who we affectionately call “FK”), to be the first woman on U.S. paper currency. But, I believe that Kelley herself would have been delighted with this decision. Here’s why… 

Tubman was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the 1820’s. She escaped to Philadelphia 25 years later, but returned to the South to help free other slaves through the iconic Underground Railroad. Indeed, Tubman’s name is synonymous with the Underground Railroad. Tubman herself noted, “I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years.” During the Civil War, Tubman led Union scouts in South Carolina and led raids throughout the South that freed hundreds of slaves. Later she worked with Susan B. Anthony for women’s suffrage. And sadly, she died in 1913, seven years short of the adoption of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. 

Why would FK be so pleased with Tubman on the $20? Let’s leave aside the fact that the current face on the $20, Andrew Jackson, owned slaves and oversaw the forced the migration thousands of Native Americans from their homes in what is now called The Trail of Tears.

Florence Kelley passionately advocated for racial equality; she refused to stay in hotels that would not admit her African-American colleagues. She was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and dear friends with civil rights activist W.E.B Dubois, who spoke at her funeral. She grew up in a Quaker home with her Aunt Sarah as a major influence; Sarah Pugh championed the movement to urge consumers never to buy products made with slave labor. Kelley’s father (a Philadelphia congressman) and Abraham Lincoln were close friends and founders of the Republican Party, and both agreed on the evils of slavery. Kelley, like Tubman, also fought valiantly for women’s suffrage. 

For all these reasons, the decision to place activist, abolitionist, and Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill surely would have pleased Florence Kelley enormously—as it does today’s Board and staff of the National Consumers League. As U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios noted at a recent meeting NCL attended on the topic, “this isn’t one and done. There will be other women on U.S. paper currency in the years to come.” And NCL will once again remind the world of why Florence Kelley deserves a place on U.S. currency alongside heroic American women like Harriet Tubman. For now, we think Secretary Lew made the right call

National Consumers League statement of Senate passage of FAA Reauthorization Bill – National Consumers League

April 19, 2016

Contact: NCL Cindy Hoang,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 on a 95-3 vote. Unfortunately, despite support from every major national consumers and travellers rights groups as well as business travel managers, the Senate failed to even vote on the FAIR Fees Act, which was offered as an amendment and received bipartisan support in committee. This bill, co-sponsored by Senators Markey and Blumenthal proposed common-sense, pro-consumer reforms that would have prohibited air carriers from imposing ancillary fees that were unreasonable or disproportional to the costs incurred by the airlines. Such action would address competition concerns raised by the Department of Justice, Department of Justice, travelers’ rights advocates and consumers nationwide. 

While the bill is not perfect, we recognize and applaud the fact that it does contain a number of important new consumer protections which address the out-of-control growth of ancillary fees that are increasingly squeezing the pocketbooks of the traveling public. In particular, consumers will benefit from provisions requiring automatic refunds on baggage fees when luggage arrives late, automatic refunds of ancillary fees when services are purchased and not delivered, better disclosure of ancillary fees, an investigation of the Department of Transportation (DOT’s) consumer protection enforcement efforts and improvements to the Department of Transportation’s complaint process, among other provisions. In addition, NCL is pleased with the absence of air traffic control privatization in bill, which reflects the broadly held consensus that such action would significantly harm the FAA’s ability to ensure the safety of the air travel system for the millions of consumers who depend it.

The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“Complaints to the Department of Transportation about the price of flying were the fastest-growing type of complaint to the agency last year.  Consumers are demanding real reforms that address the explosion of airline fees, yet the Senate failed to even vote on the FAIR Fees Act. While we recognize that important new consumer protections were included in the FAA reauthorization bill, we are deeply disappointed that the full Senate did not take up Senators Markey, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar’s common-sense consumer protection amendment. Thanks to consolidation, the biggest U.S. airlines are increasingly able to reduce capacity and raise fees, free from a credible competitive threat. This is a textbook case of oligopolistic behavior that Congress, the DOT and the DOJ must recognize and act upon.”

The National Consumers League will continue to press for the addition of much-needed consumer protections to the FAA reauthorization legislation as it moves toward a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Pennsylvania takes 2016 National LifeSmarts title in Denver – National Consumers League

April 12, 2016

Contact: National Consumers League, Carol McKay, (724) 799-5392,

Denver, CO—The student team from Dallas, PA, coached by Kevin West, was crowned national LifeSmarts champions in Denver on Tuesday, April 12 at the 22nd annual National LifeSmarts Championship. In a tight final match against the returning champs from Jacksonville, FL, the teens from Dallas High School outplayed their opponents in an exciting end to the 4-day competition. The Florida team, from Paxon School for Advanced Studies, coached by Kathie Loggie, held the national title in 2015 and 2013.

Teams from Honolulu, Hawaii, and Coffee County, Tennessee placed third.

“We are so proud of these students from Pennsylvania, who represented their state program with class and pride,” said LifeSmarts Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. “They played hard and demonstrated their consumer smarts throughout the four-day event. They are true LifeSmarts champions.”

LifeSmarts is an education and scholarship program run by the Washington, DC-based National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization. It competitively tests high school students’ knowledge of consumer awareness, with subjects including personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights and responsibility, technology, and the environment. LifeSmarts is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in partnership programs with student leadership programs FBLA and FCCLA.

Teens from each of the 33 state champion teams represented at nationals competed as individuals, and the top five scorers received scholarships from NCL. This year’s winners were:

  • Environment: Michael Lamontagne, Rhode Island
  • Personal Finance: Alyssa Simoes, Connecticut
  • Health and Safety: Ethan Epstein, Virginia
  • Consumer Rights and Responsibilities: Eli Shea, Rhode Island
  • Technology: Chris Biesecker, Pennsylvania

Taylor Heslop, from Kansas, and Brandon Mahsetky from California, were named the 2016 Students of the Year. Donna Mancuso, from Crosby High School in Connecticut, and Coach West, from Dallas High School in Pennsylvania, were named LifeSmarts Coaches of the Year. Long-time State Coordinator Jim Hedemark, from Rhode Island, earned the Coordinator of the Year honor.

“NCL’s LifeSmarts program is allowing us to rear a generation of consumer-savvy teenagers who often outsmart their parents on issues related to avoiding fraud, credit and debt, and complicated healthcare decisions,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. In the 22 years that LifeSmarts has been educating high school and middle school teens on consumer issues, it has grown dramatically, with more than 3 million consumer questions answered at in the online competition during the 2015-2016 program year.

For team photos, event schedules, grid standings, and more, log on to

All winners at the national LifeSmarts Competition received valuable prizes donated by sponsors to the National Consumers League, including scholarships, savings bonds, gift cards, and more. To learn more about the program, contact NCL’s Lisa Hertzberg at 202-835-3323.


About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit:, email or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at 202-835-3323.

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cracks down on phony student loan assistance scams – National Consumers League

SG-headshot.jpgIn the aftermath of the subprime loan crash of 2008, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. With that Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who was a law professor at the time, conceived the idea for the bureau and compared the need for such an agency to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which helps protect consumers from dangerous products. In the Bureau’s case, she argued, the new entity would help guarantee the safety of financial products. The National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supported the CFPB’s launch and its value is demonstrated with every passing day. 

Most recently, the Bureau cracked down on companies that prey on college-aged adults mired in student debt. Believe it or not, these companies convince borrowers that their paid services are needed to help reduce or eliminate their loan burdens–when those services are actually available for free elsewhere. These shady debt relief companies require upfront fees to handle student debt, which can be as much as $495. They also imply that they are connected to the Department of Education, which they are not.

The CFPB’s latest target is a San Diego firm called Student Aid Institute. The Bureau found that SAI violated the law that requires that at least one debt be renegotiated before any fees can be demanded up front for debt relief services.  The company also charged a $39 maintenance fee per month! 

The Bureau, in a consent order with the company, required SAI to stop all debt relief activities and that its CEO pay a $50,000 fine. Our colleagues at the National Consumer Law Center have long identified these phony student loan-servicing firms as a big problem, and has called on the CFPB to shut them down.

The requirement that these sleazy companies negotiate at least one debt before taking an upfront fee is relatively new and very helpful. But, like other scam artists who take an upfront fee to reduce tax or mortgage liability, SAI managed to collect millions before being stopped.

NCL applauds the CFPB for its critically important work in stopping companies that prey on consumers facing debt, whether it is student loans, back taxes, or mortgages. We are reminded daily of the value of the CFPB’s work.  

NCL statement on Blankenship sentencing – National Consumers League

April 9, 2016

Contact: NCL Cindy Hoang,, (202) 835-3323

Washington, DC-The National Consumers League has issued the following statement, which may be attributed to Executive Director Sally Greenberg, on the sentencing this week of Don Blankenship, mine owner of the Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 miners were killed in 2010. Blankenship was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety standards and sentenced to one year in prison.

The justice system was at work in the sentencing of Don Blankenship this week to one year in prison. Blankenship’s notorious management style – putting profits over the safety of workers – and creating a working environment of subterfuge, fear, and intimidation, created the conditions that lead to the deaths of 29 miners at Upper Big Branch mine. This sentence won’t bring back the lives of these hardworking miners, but it does send a message to coal operators who skirt the law: you do so at your own risk.

NCL stands alongside mineworkers, the United Mine Workers of America, and all those who labor under dangerous conditions in support of the safety and health of workers. Their welfare must never take a back seat to profits.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Quartz countertops posing threat to workers – National Consumers League

Worker health and safety is perennial issue in America. NCL’s early leaders, Florence Kelley and Frances Perkins, fought for safety in mines, mills, and factories Both lived through the tragedy of the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire in 1911. Indeed, Perkins was instrumental in developing fire safety reforms with New York State officials in the aftermath of that terrible event.

In the past two weeks, two other developments demonstrated the continued importance of keeping worker safety on the front burner. OSHA, which is the federal agency charged with overseeing worker health and safety, issued long-delayed rules to sharply reduce exposure to silica among workers. NCL testified in support of the rule in 2014 and applauded the issuance of the final rule.

Secondly, a federal court sentenced Upper Big Branch mine operator, Don Blankenship, to one year in prison for his role in skirting safety laws that resulted in the deaths of 29 miners.

Related to the silica rule, The New York Times recently highlighted the plight of quartz countertop workers.

I hadn’t known that these sleek, trendy countertops found in the toniest of homes posed a risk to the workers who cut the quartz. The danger comes from inhaling silica dust, the mineral tied to silicosis, a debilitating and deadly lung disease, when the quartz is cut. In fact, quartz contains twice the amount of silica levels as marble, they are cheaper than marble and are attractive and easy to clean. But the consequences for workers are dire: In Israel, 300 quartz countertop workers have developed silicosis and 22 have had lung transplants.

The NY Times story notes that we know less about cases in the US, but a Houston quartz countertop worker whose picture is shown in the article is 39 years old and can only breathe with the help of an oxygen tank. One of the manufacturers of these countertops has threatened legal action against medical publications describing the hazards of working with quartz.

Manufacturers of quartz countertop say that the danger from inhaling quartz silica particles can be eliminated using controls like protective respirators and equipment designed to trap silica dust, like power saws that release streams of water.

We can only hope that the new silica rules issued by OSHA will protect workers in the United States who are cutting quartz for countertops. That’s precisely who the new rules are intended protect and we will be watching to see if they do the job.

Mile High City to host 2016 National LifeSmarts Championship event April 9-12 – National Consumers League

April 8, 2016

State champion teams to face off at 22nd annual national consumer literacy scholarship competition in Denver

Contact: Carol McKay,, (724) 799-5392

Washington, DC — In celebration of April’s Financial Literacy Month, the National Consumers League (NCL) has announced the nearly three dozen state champion teams that have earned a spot at the 2016 National LifeSmarts Championship, which will take place starting later this week in Denver, Colorado.

LifeSmarts ( is a national consumer literacy scholarship competition, celebrating its 22nd season this year, hosted by NCL, the nation’s oldest consumer watchdog organization. The 2016 National LifeSmarts Champion team will be crowned at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Denver on Tuesday, April 12.

LifeSmarts is a competitive educational program, in which teams of students begin online. Top-scorers progress to state competitions, and then state champion teams meet each April to compete in the National LifeSmarts Championship. This year’s lineup of state champion teams come from as near as Elk Creek 4-H Club, Arapahoe County, Colorado, and as far away as the Florida team from Jacksonville, which returns to defend its title as last year’s national champs.

“We are so proud of this year’s state LifeSmarts champions, who have proven themselves to be the best and the brightest of the next generation of consumers,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “LifeSmarts is fun and fast, and the perfect vehicle for educating young consumers. Our program goes in-depth on the issues kids—and adults—are facing now: finances, health care, the environment, and technology.”

The 2016 National LifeSmarts Champion and other winning teams will walk away with prizes and scholarships. In addition to placing as a team, individual students have the opportunity to compete for scholarships by demonstrating knowledge in specific program topic areas. The top eight placing teams and top five individuals are recognized. Additionally, NCL will award scholarships to winning participants from its Safety Smart Ambassador program, conducted in conjunction with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which offers high school students the opportunity to teach very young students environmental and safety in-classroom lessons as a community service.

NCL thanks the sponsors who make the program possible including Experian, UL, Western Union, LifeLock, Comcast, Google, Intuit, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, and American Express.

Consumer-savvy teens representing 31 states and the District of Columbia will compete at this year’s national event. Throughout the 2015-2016 program year, more than 100,000 teens competed online for a chance to represent their states at the 2016 National LifeSmarts Championship. Players answered more than 3 million consumer questions in the online competition.


When:  April 12, 2016
Where:  Embassy Suites Downtown Denver, 1420 Stout Street, Denver, CO  80202

Final and semi-final matches begin:  Tuesday, April 12, 9 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time
Awards Ceremony: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time

Follow the competition online

Parents and teachers can follow the action at and via Twitter: #LifeSmarts

The semi-final and final competition matches will be streamed live at

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 starting at 9 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time (8 a.m. Pacific Time, 12 p.m. Eastern)


About the National Consumers League and LifeSmarts

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit:, email, or call the National Consumers League’s communications department at 202-835-3323.

NCL statement on fiduciary rule – National Consumers League

April 6, 2016

Contact: Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) welcomes new standards for investment advice that were finalized today and will be implemented by the Department of Labor. The rule is designed to ensure that all financial professionals who offer retirement investment advice act in their customers’ best interests. 

The following may be attributed to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

While this new rule will be of substantial assistance to retirees and those near retirement, its biggest impact will likely be for young people who will need to create their own retirement savings. They need to be able to rely on their investment advisors to act in their best interests. 

Many might assume that this basic, yet essential standard for consumer protection -for financial professionals to act in the customers’ best interests – was already required, but that was not the case until today.

According to estimates by the Obama Administration, more than $17 billion is unnecessarily lost every year from retirement savings under our current system. Over decades, putting this money back into the investment accounts of consumers will add up. This powerful new rule will benefit consumers well into retirement years and help solidify a financially secure future for millions of Americans.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Consumer group letter to Sens. McConnell and Reid on FAIR Fees Act – National Consumers League

April 5, 2016

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 

The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators McConnell and Reid, 

The undersigned consumer and traveler advocacy organizations call on you and members of the U.S. Senate to adopt measures that strengthen consumer protections in the U.S. air travel industry. Specifically, as the Senate prepares to take up the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658) we ask that you support the inclusion of the FAIR Fees Act (S. 2656), sponsored by Senators Markey and Blumenthal, as an amendment to the full bill.

Ancillary fees are out of control and the lack of effective competition means that market forces alone are unlikely to stop their growth. In 2015, U.S. airlines collected $10.8 billion in ancillary fees, an increase of 24% since 2014.[i] These fees, combined with historically low fuel prices and increasingly cramped seats drove record profits for the industry in 2015,[ii] a trend that is expected to continue in 2016.[iii]Ancillary fees bear little to no relation to the cost to actually provide the services these fees allegedly support. These add-on fees also generate significant consumer outrage. For example:

  • From 2009-2014, cancellation/change fees increased by 2-5 times the rate of inflation.[iv]
  • In April 2013, the three largest domestic airlines all raised their cancellation/change fees from $150 to $200 within two weeks of each other;[v]
  • Consumer complaints to the Department of Transportation (DOT) increased by 30 percent from 2014 to 2015. [vi]
  • Complaints about airline fares are the fastest-growing category of complaint to the DOT (97.93% year-over-year increase). [vii] 

The Justice Department (DOJ) pointed to exactly these kinds of anticompetitive fees in its complaint against the American Airlines-U.S. Airways merger when it stated:

  • “Increasing consolidation among large airlines has hurt passengers. The major airlines have copied each other in raising fares, imposing new fees on travelers, reducing or eliminating service on a number of city pairs, and downgrading amenities[;]”[viii] and
  • “In recent years, however, the major airlines have, in tandem, raised fares, imposed new and higher fees, and reduced service. Competition has diminished and consumers have paid a heavy price.”[ix]

The FAIR Fees Act, which enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate Commerce Committee, would prohibit airlines from charging cancellation, baggage or other ancillary fees that are “unreasonable or disproportional to the costs incurred by the air carrier,” under standards to be set by the DOT. The bill does not seek to re-regulate the airlines, but it serves to remedy a systemic violation of the free market system that has been pointed out repeatedly by both DOT and DOJ. 

The FAA Reauthorization Act is an important opportunity for you and your Senate colleagues to protect the millions of consumers who depend on the airline industry to provide an affordable, dependable and safe travel experience. The FAIR Fees Act would do much to help reign in the industry’s increasing reliance on ancillary fees, which are unfairly squeezing the pocketbooks of the flying public. We urge you to support this common sense, pro-consumer bill.


National Consumers League
Business Travel Coalition
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Consumers Union
Consumer Watchdog
National Association of Airline Passengers
Public Citizen
Travelers United

[i] Elliott, Christopher. “Airlines Made Close to $11 Billion Off of Fees This Year,” November 18, 2015. Online:

[ii] Mouawad, Jad. “Airlines Reap Record Profits, and Passengers Get Peanuts,” New York Times. February 6, 2016. Online:

[iii] International Air Transport Association. “Airlines Continue to Improve Profitability 5.1% Net Profit Margin for 2016,” Press Release. December 10, 2015. Online:

[iv] United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Unfriendly Skies: Consumer Confusion Over Airline Fees: Staff Report for Ranking Member Nelson. August 6, 2015. Pg. 6. Online:

[v] Mayerowitz, Scott. “Analysis: Airline mergers have already led to higher fares,” Associated Press. August 14, 2013. Online:

[vi] U.S. Department of Transportation. “2015 Airline Consumer Complaints Up From Previous Year,” Press release. February 18, 2016. Online:

[vii] U.S. Department of Transportation. Air Travel Consumer Report: February 2016. Pg. 43. Online:

[viii] United States of American et al v. US Airways Group, Inc. and AMR Corporation. Complaint. Pg. 14, Para. 35. August 13, 1013.  Online:

[ix] ibid. Pg. 3, Para. 1.

Consumer Fraud Alert: Unwanted software downloads costing Americans billions – National Consumers League

April 5, 2016

Contact: Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization is today issuing a warning for consumers about the increasing prevalence of unwanted software—annoying and sometimes dangerous malware being downloaded unknowingly by computer users. According to the National Consumers League (NCL), which operates the newly relaunched, unwanted software is installed on tens of millions of computers in America and is associated with billions of dollars in fraud every year.

“When you download free software, it might come with an unexpected addition: hidden programs that can cause problems on your computer ranging from the merely annoying to truly dangerous,” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud. “Unwanted software has been around for some time, but in recent years, it has become an even bigger concern for Internet users and is a significant enough threat to consumers that we’ve issued today’s Fraud Alert to warn them and help prevent these downloads.”

A May 2015 study by Google, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Barbara found that tens of millions of visitors to Google’s services had unwanted adware installed on their computer. Within that group, half had at least two, and nearly one-third of users had at least four such programs infecting their machines. And that’s just for one type of unwanted software infection. Unwanted software was the source of nearly 20 percent of complaints from Chrome users alone in 2014.

A similar study by security firm Namogoo found that 15-30 percent of e-commerce website visitors were infected with malware that causes them to view injected ads, malicious links, and fraudulent spyware on otherwise legitimate sites.

Unwanted software imposes a range of costs on consumers affected by it. They can slow computers to a crawl, resulting in wasted time for users. It can prompt consumers to spend money on expensive computer support services to get the infections removed from their computers. Worst of all, unwanted software can raise the risk of identity fraud, which could potentially result in lost job opportunities, difficulty in obtaining credit, delays in obtaining tax refunds, and thousands of dollars in direct costs.

“While unwanted software can appear to be simply an annoyance that detracts from the experience of using a browser, these dangerous downloads in fact pose a significant security risk to consumers’ personal information,” said Breyault. “Some software will disable security protections and settings to take control of a consumer’s computer, leaving that computer vulnerable to hackers and data thieves.”

At, the new alert explains how unwanted software can get onto someone’s computer, the damage it can cause, and what a consumer should do to do if they have already installed it. The consumer group offers the following tips for avoiding it in the first place:

  • Get your software directly from the source. When you’re looking for a new program, look on the publisher’s website first. Software download repositories may bundle in unwanted software with legitimate downloads.
  • Avoid clicking on pop-ups or banner ads that warn you of slow performance on your computer. This is often a ruse to lead you to websites that host unwanted software.
  • Make sure everything is up-to-date. To best protect yourself, repeatedly update your browser and operating systems; older systems are more susceptible to being infected by malware. Be sure to check for computer and browser updates in computer settings. Ads claiming that your computer software is out-of-date are likely to lead you to more unwanted software.
  • Routinely scan your computer. Use antivirus software to regularly scan your computer for programs that you don’t recognize.
  • Pay attention when installing new software. When downloading programs and extensions, pay attention to the fine print. In particular, be on the lookout for pre-checked boxes that offer to install things like toolbars or other software in addition to the software you were looking for.
  • Heed your browser’s warnings. Most major Web browsers now have functionality built-in that will warn you when you are about to enter an unsafe website. Chances are that if your browser is telling you to not visit a certain website or download a particular program, you’re better off steering clear.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit