Security-Tip Sentiment, Just for Mom

By Caroline E. Mayer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Forget the flowers. And the chocolates.

For Mother's Day, give your mom a special electronic greeting card, a "bouquet of information" sent with love from FTC.gov.

The Federal Trade Commission has designed a flowery message, complete with soft, sugary piano music, fluttering butterflies and greeting-card poetry, to give Mom some key consumer tips: Safeguard your Social Security number; read your bills and bank statements, exercise doubt and check it out; and report fraud.

"This year, instead of giving your mother something she doesn't need for Mother's Day, you can give her something she can really use" -- tips on how to keep her personal information secure, the agency said in announcing the card. "She's already a great mom -- now help her be a confident consumer."

Lesley Fair, an FTC attorney, said the card is an attempt to broaden the agency's outreach to consumers. "We realized that a one-page brochure doesn't attract much consumer attention anymore," Fair said. "We've got to come up with new and creative ways to get the word out. . . . And what better way to reach consumers where they need to be most careful but when they're online? So many women are online that Mother's Day seemed an opportune time to spread the message."

Dads needn't feel left out. The agency is planning another e-card to send on Father's Day about phishing, e-mail scams designed to trick consumers into giving out their credit card and bank account information.

The Mother's Day message can be found at http://www.ftc.gov/mom or in Spanish at http://www.ftc.gov/madre .

Fair cautions that the card alone may not suffice this Mother's Day. She has already sent it to her mom, Alys Fair, who promptly replied in an e-mail, "Don't think this means I don't expect flowers and candy, too."


© 2005 The Washington Post Company