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Federal Trade Commission - Protecting America's Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a Part 3 administrative complaint against dietary supplement marketer Health Research Laboratories, LLC (HRL), its owner and officer Kramer Duhon, and Whole Body Supplements, LLC (WBS) for making unsubstantiated claims that their supplements—The Ultimate Heart Formula (UHF), BG18, and Black Garlic Botanicals—prevent or treat cardiovascular and other diseases, and that their supplement Neupathic cures, mitigates, or treats diabetic neuropathy.

In December 2019, FTC staff and the State of Maine filed a contempt motion against HRL, Duhon, and WBS in federal district court for violating a January 2018 stipulated final order. According to the contempt motion, after agreeing to the 2018 order prohibiting unsubstantiated health claims, the defendants violated its terms by making unsubstantiated claims about UHF, BG18, Black Garlic Botanicals, and Neupathic.

Earlier this year, a court issued an order denying the FTC’s contempt motion. Staff then discontinued further contempt proceedings, and the FTC issued the administrative complaint announced today. The complaint is scheduled to be heard before an administrative law judge in July 2021. The Commission vote authorizing the administrative complaint was 5-0.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of the administrative complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

Staff Contact:
Elizabeth Averill
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2993
Author: mkatz
Posted: November 20, 2020, 12:00 pm

Student loan debt relief scammer Brandon Frere and his companies, including Ameritech Financial, have entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges they misled approximately 40,000 consumers about lowering their student loan debt.

According to the FTC’s 2018 complaint, Brandon Frere and his companies sent personalized mail to consumers that falsely claimed they were eligible for federal programs that would permanently reduce their monthly debt payments to a fixed low amount or result in total loan forgiveness.

The FTC alleged that Frere and his companies charged up to $800 in illegal up-front fees to enroll consumers in a federal loan assistance program. They also charged consumers $100-$1,200 advance fee for enrollment in a “financial education” program, followed by ongoing $49-$99 monthly membership fees for the life of the loan, which typically is 10-25 years.

The order bans Frere and his companies from providing debt relief services and prohibits them from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

In December 2018, the Department of Justice filed a criminal complaint against Frere and his companies. In December 2019, Frere pleaded guilty to two counts of wire and mail fraud, and agreed to forfeit funds. In July 2020, a U.S. district court judge sentenced Frere to 42 months in prison and required him to read all victim impact statements submitted to the court. The judge will hold a restitution hearing on December 18.

The defendants are Ameritech Financial, also doing business as American Financial Benefits Center; AFB and AF Student Services; Financial Education Benefits Center; and Frere.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson recorded as not participating. The FTC filed the order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and it was entered by the Court on October 29, 2020.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions, etc. have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2565

Staff Contacts:
Sarah Schroeder
FTC Western Region, San Francisco
415-848-5186

Roberta Tonelli
Western Region, San Francisco
415-848-5197
Author: ndrayton
Posted: November 19, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission sued the operators of a mobile banking app, alleging that they falsely promised users high interest rates on their accounts and “24/7” access to their funds.

In a complaint filed in federal court, the FTC alleges that Beam Financial Inc. and its founder and CEO Yinan Du, also known as Aaron Du, promised users of their free mobile banking app that they could make transfers out of their accounts and would receive their requested funds within three to five business days. Instead, some users waited weeks or even months to receive their money despite repeated complaints to Beam, while others said they never received their money, according to the complaint.

"Beam Financial promised convenient 24/7 access to savings, but then people had to wait weeks or months to get their money," said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Many consumers said Beam’s failure to provide their requested funds caused real financial harm, particularly for those who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the reviewers of the Beam app on the Apple App and Google Play stores complained that they did not receive their requested withdrawals from Beam and had trouble reaching the company either by phone or by email, according to the complaint. For example, one user complained in a review that, “I am still without my $2,900 and Beam doesn’t answer the phone or email. They’ve stolen my money during a pandemic.”

Consumers who did reach the California-based company said Beam blamed delays in providing the requested money on issues with unspecified “banking partners” or “technology partners” and promised the delays were temporary, according to the complaint.

In addition to making it difficult for consumers to access their funds, Beam also failed to give users the high interest rates the company promised, the FTC alleges. Beam repeatedly claimed that users would receive “the industry’s best possible rate” of at least 0.2 percent or 1.0 percent, according to the complaint. In fact, many new users received a much lower interest rate of 0.04 percent and stopped earning any interest after requesting that Beam return their funds.

The FTC alleges that Beam’s misrepresentations violate the FTC Act.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2924

Staff Contact:
Gregory Madden
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2426
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: November 18, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission has sent a warning letter to a company that markets financial aid prep assistance to post-secondary students, notifying the company that it could potentially be misleading consumers about access to a coronavirus relief program.

The letter to the operators of Frank Financial Aid (Frank) highlights the company’s claims that it gives students “everything you need” to apply for emergency grants available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and that there are four identified eligibility criteria for the emergency relief.

In fact, as the FTC’s letter notes, Frank’s purported assistance to students consists primarily of providing a form letter that may lack the information a student would need to apply for one of the grants from his or her school. The CARES Act program for students is administered by individual colleges and universities, and each has its own unique application process and grant eligibility criteria.

The FTC’s letter also warns Frank about offers of cash advances that can be paid back “when your financial aid comes in” and with “no interest, no fees – ever.”  The letter notes that the company’s terms, however, appear to require the advance to be paid back within 61 days, whether or not the student has received any aid from his or her college or university by that time.  Additionally, Frank charges a $19.90 monthly fee, according to the FTC’s letter.

The letter warns Frank to take prompt action to ensure all deceptive or unlawful claims are removed or corrected, and any other required disclosures are provided. The letter also instructs the company to notify the FTC by November 17 about the specific actions it has taken to address the agency’s concerns.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Staff Contact:
Helen Clark
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2273
Author: jmayfield
Posted: November 16, 2020, 12:00 pm

Commission has sent similar letters to more than 330 other sellers and marketers nationwide

The Federal Trade Commission announced it has sent letters warning 20 more marketers nationwide to stop making unsubstantiated claims that their products and therapies can prevent or treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This is the ninth set of warning letters the FTC has announced as part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from health-related COVID-19 scams. In all, the Commission has sent similar letters to more than 330 companies and individuals.

Some of the letters announced today target products and “treatments” the FTC has warned companies about previously, including intravenous (IV) Vitamin C infusions, ozone therapy, and supplements. Others challenge claims that more obscure products and therapies can prevent or treat COVID-19. For example, in this round of mailings, warning letters went to companies claiming that everything from copper water bottles to personal training, bead bracelets, and water filtration systems can fight the disease. However, currently there is no scientific evidence that these products or services can prevent or treat the disease.

The FTC sent the letters announced today to the companies and individuals listed below. The recipients are grouped based on the type of therapy, product, or service they pitched as preventing or treating COVID-19.

Bead Bracelets:

Copper Water Bottles:

Fitness Classes/Personal Training:

Indoor Tanning/Red Light Therapy/Intravenous Ultraviolet Light Therapy:

Peptide Therapies/Intravenous Vitamin Drips and Injections/Intravenous Laser Therapy:

Ozone Therapy/Stem Cell Therapy and Immunotherapy/Intravenous Therapy:

Supplements:

Water Filtration Systems:

In the letters, the FTC states that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the marketers are unsubstantiated because they are not supported by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act. The letters advise the recipients to immediately stop making all claims that their products can prevent or treat COVID-19, and to notify the Commission within 48 hours about the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.

The letters also note that if the false claims do not cease, the Commission may seek a federal court injunction and an order requiring money to be refunded to consumers. Last April, the FTC announced its first such case against a marketer of a purported COVID-19 treatment, Marc Ching, doing business as Whole Leaf Organics. The case was settled in early July, with Ching agreeing to an order barring him from making the allegedly deceptive claims.

In July, the FTC filed a federal court complaint against California-based Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical, Inc. alleging that the seller was falsely advertising its $23,000 Emergency-D Virus treatment as an “FDA Accepted” plan for treating COVID-19. The complaint alleges that the company continued to market its COVID-19 treatment even after receiving a warning letter from the FTC in April 2020.

In addition, the FTC recently announced several federal court cases filed against marketers who allegedly make false promises about being able to quickly fulfill orders for facemasks and other personal protective equipment. One of those actions also included charges against the sellers of a product called “Basic Immune IGG” that claimed to treat or prevent COVID-19 and have FDA approval, according to the FTC’s complaint.

Finally, last week, at the FTC’s request, a federal court in Ohio has issued a temporary restraining order against 25 counterfeit websites that allegedly have been playing on consumers’ COVID-19 pandemic fears to trick them into paying for Clorox and Lysol products that the defendants never deliver.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

Staff Contact:
Richard Cleland
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088
Author: mkatz
Posted: November 12, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending refunds totaling nearly $1.5 million to individuals who were affected by allegedly unlawful financing and sales practices by Bronx Honda.

According to the FTC, Bronx Honda and its general manager told sales employees to charge higher financing markups and fees to African-American and Hispanic customers. The defendants told employees that these groups should be targeted due to their limited education, and not to attempt the same practices with non-Hispanic white consumers.

The FTC further alleged that Bronx Honda failed to honor advertised sale prices, changed the sales price on paperwork in the middle of the sale without telling the consumer, double-charged consumers for taxes and fees, and misrepresented to consumers that they were required to pay extra reconditioning and warranty fees to purchase “certified” vehicles.

The FTC is providing refunds, averaging about $371 each, to 3,977 victims of Bronx Honda’s practices. Those who receive checks should deposit or cash their checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.

Recipients who have questions about the refunds, or consumers who financed a car purchase from Bronx Honda in 2016 through 2018 and have not previously requested a refund, should contact JND Legal Administration at 888-921-0727.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds. FTC actions led to more than $642 million in refunds to consumers across the country in fiscal year 2020.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Refund Administrator
JND Legal Administration
888-921-0727

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: jmayfield
Posted: November 10, 2020, 12:00 pm

Commission alleged that the company deceived users about the level of security for Zoom meeting platform and unfairly undermined a browser security feature

Note: The FTC will host a conference call TODAY for media at Noon ET. Participants will include Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Andrew Smith and Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

The Call-in number is 844-291-6360 and the access code is 389969. Call-in lines, which are for media only, will open 15 minutes prior to the start of the call.

The Federal Trade Commission today announced a settlement with Zoom Video Communications, Inc. that will require the company to implement a robust information security program to settle allegations that the video conferencing provider engaged in a series of deceptive and unfair practices that undermined the security of its users.

Zoom has agreed to a requirement to establish and implement a comprehensive security program, a prohibition on privacy and security misrepresentations, and other detailed and specific relief to protect its user base, which has skyrocketed from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its complaint, the FTC alleged that, since at least 2016, Zoom misled users by touting that it offered “end-to-end, 256-bit encryption” to secure users’ communications, when in fact it provided a lower level of security. End-to-end encryption is a method of securing communications so that only the sender and recipient(s)—and no other person, not even the platform provider—can read the content.

In reality, the FTC alleges, Zoom maintained the cryptographic keys that could allow Zoom to access the content of its customers’ meetings, and secured its Zoom Meetings, in part, with a lower level of encryption than promised.

Zoom’s misleading claims gave users a false sense of security, according to the FTC’s complaint, especially for those who used the company’s platform to discuss sensitive topics such as health and financial information. In numerous blog posts, Zoom specifically touted its level of encryption as a reason for customers and potential customers to use Zoom’s videoconferencing services.

“During the pandemic, practically everyone—families, schools, social groups, businesses—is using videoconferencing to communicate, making the security of these platforms more critical than ever,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Zoom’s security practices didn’t line up with its promises, and this action will help to make sure that Zoom meetings and data about Zoom users are protected.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Zoom also misled some users who wanted to store recorded meetings on the company’s cloud storage by falsely claiming that those meetings were encrypted immediately after the meeting ended. Instead, some recordings allegedly were stored unencrypted for up to 60 days on Zoom’s servers before being transferred to its secure cloud storage.

The FTC also alleged that the company compromised the security of some users when it secretly installed software, called a ZoomOpener web server, as part of a manual update for its Mac desktop application in July 2018. The ZoomOpener web server allowed Zoom to automatically launch and join a user to a meeting by bypassing an Apple Safari browser safeguard that protected users from a common type of malware. Without the ZoomOpener web server, the Safari browser would have provided users with a warning box, prior to launching the Zoom app, that asked users if they wanted to launch the app.

The complaint alleges that Zoom did not implement any offsetting measures to protect users’ security, and increased users’ risk of remote video surveillance by strangers. The software remained on users’ computers even after they deleted the Zoom app, and would automatically reinstall the Zoom app—without any user action—in certain circumstances. The complaint alleges that Zoom’s deployment of the ZoomOpener, without adequate notice or user consent, was unfair and violated the FTC Act. Apple removed the ZoomOpener web server from users’ computers through an automatic update in July 2019.

The complaint also alleges that Zoom’s release notes for the July 2018 update were deceptive because they did not adequately disclose that the app update would install the ZoomOpener web server on users’ computers, that it would circumvent a Safari browser safeguard, or that it would remain on users’ computers even after users deleted the Zoom app.

As part of the proposed comprehensive information security program, Zoom must take specific measures aimed at addressing the problems identified in the complaint. For example, it must:

  • assess and document on an annual basis any potential internal and external security risks and develop ways to safeguard against such risks;
  • implement a vulnerability management program; and
  • deploy safeguards such as multi-factor authentication to protect against unauthorized access to its network; institute data deletion controls; and take steps to prevent the use of known compromised user credentials.

In addition, Zoom personnel will be required to review any software updates for security flaws and must ensure the updates will not hamper third-party security features.

Under the proposed settlement, Zoom is also prohibited from making misrepresentations about its privacy and security practices, including about how it collects, uses, maintains, or discloses personal information; its security features; and the extent to which users can control the privacy or security of their personal information.

Finally, the company must obtain biennial assessments of its security program by an independent third party, which the FTC has authority to approve, and notify the Commission if it experiences a data breach.

The Commission voted 3-2 to issue the proposed administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement with the company. Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued dissenting statements, while Chairman Joe Simons as well as Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson issued a majority statement.

The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register soon. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Instructions for filing comments will appear in the published notice. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,280.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2924

Staff Contacts:
Linda Holleran Kopp
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2267

Ryan Mehm
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2918

Caroline Schmitz
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2621
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: November 9, 2020, 12:00 pm

WHAT:

The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop that will explore a number of issues related to the Franchise Rule, and the comments received in response to the FTC’s request for comment about the Rule last year. Specifically, the workshop topics will include representations that franchisors make about financial performance, the use of disclaimers, and the format of the disclosure document required by the Rule.

WHEN:

Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET

WHERE:

The workshop will be held online. A link to view the workshop will be posted the morning of the event to the event page and ftc.gov.

WHO:

The event will feature remarks by FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith and Congressman Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, as well as panel discussions featuring government officials and industry representatives.

TWITTER:

The event will be tweeted live from the FTC’s Twitter page (@FTC) using the hashtag #FranchiseRuleFTC

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:

Author: mkatz
Posted: November 9, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending refunds totaling nearly $150,000 to individuals who lost money to a company called Grand Teton Professionals, which operated a bogus credit-repair scheme.

According to the FTC, Grand Teton Professionals targeted consumers with false promises of substantially improving their credit scores by claiming to remove all negative items and “hard” credit inquiries (which can often change a consumer’s credit score) from their credit reports. Additionally, the defendants illegally charged upfront fees for their services and advised customers to mislead credit bureaus and lenders, as well as threatening consumers with lawsuits when they complained or disputed charges.

The FTC will send 2,782 refunds through PayPal averaging about $53 each. People who get a refund via PayPal will have 30 days to accept the payment.

The FTC never requires consumers to pay money to get a refund payment. For more details about the PayPal payment process, please read the related FAQ. Consumers who do not get a refund and think they should have or consumers who have any questions about the refunds should contact the refund administrator, Analytics, at 844-965-2441.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds. In 2019, FTC actions led to more than $232 million in refunds to consumers across the country.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Refund Administrator
Analytics
844-965-2441

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: November 9, 2020, 12:00 pm

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent agreement settling charges that Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC (Sunday Riley Skincare) and its CEO, Sunday Riley, misled consumers by posting fake reviews of the company’s products online, at the CEO’s direction, and by failing to disclose that the reviewers were company employees.

Sunday Riley Skincare sells a range of cosmetic products at various retailers, including Sephora, a multinational chain of personal care and beauty stores, and on the Sephora.com website. Sephora allows consumers to leave customer reviews of products sold on its website, providing a forum for sharing authentic feedback about the products it sells.

According to the agency’s October 2019 complaint, between November 2015 and August 2017, Sunday Riley Skincare managers, including Ms. Riley, posted reviews of their branded products on the Sephora site using fake accounts created to hide their identities, and requested that other Sunday Riley Skincare employees do the same thing. The FTC alleged that after Sephora removed fake reviews written by Sunday Riley Skincare employees, the company obtained an Express VPN account in an attempt to hide its online activity.

The final order settling the FTC’s charges prohibits Sunday Riley Skincare and Ms. Riley from misrepresenting the status of any endorser or person reviewing a product they are selling. This includes misrepresentations that the endorser or reviewer is an independent or ordinary user of the product. The order also requires that they clearly and conspicuously disclose any unexpected material connection between endorsers and Sunday Riley Skincare, Ms. Riley, or any entity affiliated with the product.

The Commission vote approving the final consent order and letters to public commenters was 3-2, with Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Rohit Chopra voting no. The majority and Commissioner Chopra each issued separate statements. Commissioner Slaughter joined in Commissioner Chopra’s statement. (The staff contact is Michael Ostheimer, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2699.)

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Consumer Response Center
877-382-4357

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

Author: mkatz
Posted: November 6, 2020, 12:00 pm

FTC complaint alleges defendants take advantage of consumers’ COVID-19 fears

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court in Ohio has issued a temporary restraining order against 25 counterfeit websites that allegedly have been playing on consumers’ COVID-19 pandemic fears to trick them into paying for Clorox and Lysol products that the defendants never deliver.

According to the FTC’s complaint, since at least July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendants’ counterfeit websites have been aimed at consumers urgently seeking cleaning and disinfecting products, and designed to look like genuine sellers offering Clorox and Lysol products.

Track Coronavirus (COVID-19) consumer complaintsThe FTC complaint alleges that none of the defendants’ websites are owned by, affiliated with, or authorized by the companies that make Clorox and Lysol, and that none of the consumers who paid for cleaning and disinfecting products ever received what they ordered online.

“The FTC is working hard to stop fraudsters who try to scam people with false promises of scarce cleaning supplies during the pandemic,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “If a seller seems to have items that are out of stock everywhere else, do an online search for complaints about the seller or website before you buy.”

The FTC believes the defendants illegally charged consumers thousands of dollars for Clorox and Lysol products that they never delivered. In some cases, consumers reported that when they tried to return to the fake website to seek a refund, it was gone in a matter of days or weeks, while the defendants moved on to set up a new website with a different URL.

In some cases where consumers have sought chargebacks from their credit card companies, they have found that the defendants used falsified shipment information to make it harder for consumers to get the charges reversed. In other cases, they shipped worthless products that consumers did not order—like a pair of socks—or used other deceptive tactics to thwart the chargeback process.

Fake Clorox web page claiming to sell products that help prevent the spread of CoronavirusThe websites named in the FTC’s complaint are: 1) cleanyos.com, 2) arlysol.com, 3) broclea.com, 4) cadclea.com, 5) cleancate.com, 6) cleankler.com, 7) cleanula.com, 8) clean-sale.com, 9) clean-sell.com, 10) clorox-sale.com, 11) clorox-sales.com, 12) cloroxstore.com, 13) crlysol.com, 14) elysol.com, 15) littletoke.com, 16) lybclean.com, 17) lysoiclean.com, 18) lysol-clean.com, 19) lysol-cleaners.com, 20) lysol-free.com, 21) lysolsales.com, 22) lysolservicebest.com, 23) lysol-sell.com, 24) lysol-wipe.com, and 25) thaclean.com.

In filing the complaint, the FTC is seeking an order permanently banning the defendants from their allegedly illegal conduct, as well as the disgorgement of money they collected through the scheme to provide refunds to defrauded consumers.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was 5-0. The complaint seeking temporary relief was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The FTC appreciates the assistance of the Better Business Bureau of Akron, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, and The Clorox Company in this case.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

Staff Contact:
Harris Senturia
FTC's East Central Region
216-263-3455
Author: mkatz
Posted: November 5, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending PayPal payments totaling more than $470,000 to people who lost money to deceptive chain referral schemes involving cryptocurrencies.

According to the FTC, the defendants promoted Bitcoin Funding Team and My7Network, which falsely promised that participants could earn large amounts of money by paying cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Litecoin to enroll in the schemes. However, Bitcoin Funding Team and My7Network were chain referral schemes that depended on the recruitment of new people to make money. In fact, most participants failed to recoup their initial investments.

As part of the settlement, the FTC will send 7,964 refunds through PayPal beginning on November 5, 2020. The average refund is approximately $59. Recipients who receive a refund via PayPal will have 30 days to accept the payment.

The FTC never requires people to pay money to get a refund payment. For more details about the PayPal payment process, please read the related FAQ. Consumers who did not receive a refund and think they should have, or have any questions about the refunds, should contact the refund administrator, Rust Consulting Inc., at 1-866-591-7254 or by email at admin@BitcoinFundingRefund.com.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of refunds. In 2019, FTC actions led to more than $373 million in refunds to consumers across the country.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

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Author: jhenderson2
Posted: November 4, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission has released the agenda for the Franchise Rule virtual workshop on November 10.

The event will explore a number of issues related to the Franchise Rule, and the comments received in response to the FTC’s request for comment about the Rule last year. The Rule is designed to ensure that consumers who are considering buying a franchise have key information they need to weigh the risks and benefits of that potential investment.

Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, will give introductory remarks to kick off the event and will be followed by Congressman Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, who will give an opening address.  The three panel discussion will focus on representations that franchisors make about financial performance, the use of disclaimers, and the format of the disclosure document required by the Rule.

The workshop will take place online from 1 p.m. ET to 4:30 p.m. ET. A link to view the event will be posted on the event page prior to the start of the event. Registration is not required. It will be webcast live on the FTC’s website and live tweeted from the FTC’s Twitter page (@FTC) using the hashtag #FranchiseRuleFTC.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Author: ndrayton
Posted: November 3, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission signed an updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) with two Nigerian enforcement agencies to enhance communication and cooperation in a joint effort to combat cross-border fraud.

The updated MOU with Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reaffirms the agencies’ capacity and willingness to work together, as well as the intention to share information and to assist one another in consumer protection investigations. Nigeria’s FCCPC addresses consumer protection matters through investigations and enforcement. The EFCC is a criminal enforcement agency that combats consumer fraud and other financial crimes. The updated MOU replaces the FTC’s 2013 MOU with the FCCPC’s predecessor, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), and the EFCC.

The MOU establishes a joint implementation committee to develop joint training programs and workshops and provide assistance regarding specific investigations. The MOU also affirms the participants’ ongoing support for econsumer.gov, a joint project of agencies from 40 countries for reporting international scams online. The MOU is a framework for voluntary cooperation that does not change existing laws in either country.

The agreement was signed by FTC Chairman Joseph Simons; Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Babatunde Irukera, with Nigeria’s FCCPC; and Mohammed Umar Abba, Acting Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s EFCC.

The Commission vote authorizing Chairman Simons to sign the MOU on behalf of the agency was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works with counterpart agencies to promote sound antitrust, consumer protection, and data privacy enforcement and policy. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases and the FTC International Monthly for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Staff Contact:
Deon Woods Bell
Office of International Affairs
202-326-3307
Author: ndrayton
Posted: October 30, 2020, 12:00 pm

Imposter calls once again top list of complaint topics in the past year

The Federal Trade Commission today issued the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2020. The FTC’s National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry lets consumers choose not to receive most legal telemarketing calls. The data show that the number of active registrations on the DNC Registry increased by two million over the past year, while the total number of consumer complaints decreased for the third year in a row.

Now in its twelfth year of publication, the Data Book contains information about the DNC Registry for FY 2020 (from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020). The Data Book provides the most recent fiscal year information available on robocall complaints, the types of calls consumers reported to the FTC, and a complete state-by-state analysis.

FY 2020 Registration and Complaint Data

According to the Data Book, at the end of FY 2020, the DNC Registry contained 241.5 million actively registered phone numbers, up from 239.5 million at the end of FY 2019. The number of consumer complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls decreased, from 5.4 million in FY 2019 to nearly four million in FY 2020. Of those complaints, 71 percent were about robocalls, roughly the same percentage as last year, and 24 percent were about live telemarketing. In six percent of reports, the call type was not reported.

During the past fiscal year, the FTC continued to receive many consumer complaints about telemarketing robocalls, but the total number of complaints decreased significantly. In FY 2020, the Commission received 2.8 million complaints about robocalls, down from 3.79 million in FY 2019. For every month in the fiscal year, robocalls—defined under FTC regulations as calls delivering a prerecorded message—made up the majority of consumer complaints about DNC violations, with the most, 332,000, coming in September of this year.

FY 2020 Data Highlights

Again this year, imposters were the topic of the robocalls consumers reported the most, with more than 423,000 complaints received. However, this represents a decrease from FY 2019, when the FTC received approximately 493,000 such complaints. This decrease is representative of the decreasing number of consumer complaints overall in FY 2020, compared to the previous year. Warranties and protection plans comprised the second-most commonly reported topic, with consumers filing more than 237,000 robocall complaints.

Calls about supposed debt-reduction made up the third-most commonly reported topic, followed by complaints about medical and prescription issues, and computers and technical support.

Registration and Complaint Data by State

With respect to state data, New Hampshire continues to top the nation in active DNC registrations per capita (93,791). The states reporting the most complaints per 100,000 population changed in FY 2020: the top five states were Arizona (1,770 per 100k population), Virginia (1,668 per 100k population), Maryland (1,644 per 100k population), Delaware (1,608 per 100k population), and Colorado (1,504 per 100k population).

Explore Data with the FTC - Find out about Do Not Call complaints in your state and nationallyFinally, to make the information in the FY 2020 Data Book more accessible for the public, updated and interactive DNC data dashboard visualizations are available at ftc.gov/exploredata.

To make the Data Book as user-friendly as possible, it includes the following features:

The number of DNC complaints about robocalls versus live callers.

Information for Consumers

Information for consumers about the DNC Registry, company-specific DNC requests, and telemarketer caller ID requirements can be found on the FTC’s website, and consumers can sign up for the DNC Registry for free. Other information about robocalls and what consumers can do about them is also available. To report unwanted telemarketing calls, consumers can file a complaint at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Staff Contact:
Monica Vaca
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2245
Author: mkatz
Posted: October 27, 2020, 12:00 pm

New reporting system will provide streamlined experience and advice for consumers filing complaints with the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a new website, ReportFraud.ftc.gov, where consumers can easily report fraud and all other consumer issues directly to the FTC.

At ReportFraud.ftc.gov, consumers will find a streamlined and user-friendly way to submit reports to the FTC about scams, frauds, and bad business practices. The FTC has long encouraged consumers to report these issues to the FTC when they encounter them—whether or not they lost money to the fraud.

Visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov

“Every time you report scams or bad business practices to the FTC, you’re helping to protect your community,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “With ReportFraud.ftc.gov, it’s quicker and easier than ever to share your story, and each report helps the FTC, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, fight fraud.”

One new feature of the site is that consumers who file a report will receive next steps from the FTC with advice on what to do based on their particular report. The FTC has more information available for consumers, including a new video explaining how the site works.

The site takes the place of the FTC Complaint Assistant, and consumers visiting that site will be redirected to ReportFraud.ftc.gov to share their information. The site is also in Spanish at ReporteFraude.ftc.gov.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a fraud report online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook(link is external), follow us on Twitter(link is external), read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 22, 2020, 12:00 pm

Newly released data from the Federal Trade Commission reveal that there has been a surge in reports from people who say they lost money to a scam that started on social media, including a spike of these complaints in the spring at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data released by the FTC shows that the number of complaints about scams that started on social media more than tripled in the last year. People reported losing more than $117 million to this type of scam in just the first six months of 2020 compared to $134 million for all of 2019, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight.

Online shopping topped the list of complaints from consumers who reported a scam to the FTC that originated on social media. Of these consumers, many were responding to an ad they saw on social media and reported that the item they ordered never arrived. Most of those consumers (94 percent) who identified the social media service in their complaint cited Facebook or Instagram as the platform they used.

Other top consumer complaints about scams that started on social media related to romance scams or economic relief or income opportunities, which often target people who have lost a job or other income because of the pandemic. About half of all romance scam reports to the FTC since 2019 involve social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram.

For more information and tips on how to avoid being scammed while on social media, check out the FTC’s data spotlight.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 21, 2020, 12:00 pm

Award presented today by the American University in Washington, DC

Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Marketing Practices (DMP), today received the 2019-2020 Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership, presented by the American University’s Key Executive Leadership Programs. The award recognizes career executives in the federal government for their exceptional public service and dedication to the work and goals of government.

“The Selection Committee was impressed by the exceedingly high caliber and diversity of accomplishments displayed among the nominees this year, and your selection is both a tribute to your achievement and to the FTC,” said Dr. Patrick Malone, Director of the University’s Key Executive Leadership Program.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons said, “I can’t think of a more dedicated manager, leader, and public servant than Lois, and I was pleased to nominate her for this award. She’s the consummate professional and leads the Commission’s efforts on a wide range of important consumer protection programs including enforcement of the Do Not Call Registry, the fight to combat illegal robocalls, and the FTC’s efforts to stop fraud on the Internet. Her recognition with this award is well-deserved.”

About Lois Greisman

Lois has led DMP in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for the past 14 years. Under her management, the Division leads the agency’s law enforcement initiatives tackling telemarketing fraud (including Do Not Call/Robocall enforcement), fraudulent business and investment opportunity schemes (including multilevel marketing), mail fraud (including sweepstakes and lotteries), illegal spam, and Internet frauds (including technical support scams).

Lois also directs the FTC’s work to curb fraud in connection with different payment systems. Before joining DMP in January 2006, she headed the Division of Planning and Information, where she managed the FTC’s Identity Theft Program and the Consumer Response Center, and also supervised implementation of the National Do Not Call Registry. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff to FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris, and as an Attorney Advisor to both Chairman Robert Pitofsky and Chairman Janet D. Steiger.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Author: sfelder
Posted: October 21, 2020, 12:00 pm

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final administrative consent order settling charges that a California-based marketer of a supplement called Thrive, which consists mainly of Vitamin C and herbal extracts, made baseless claims that it can treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19.

According to the FTC’s April 2020 administrative complaint, since at least December 2018, Marc Ching, doing business as Whole Leaf Organics, advertised and sold Thrive online, through his Whole Leaf Organics website, and in March 2020 began marketing it as an “anti viral wellness booster” that treats, prevents, or reduces the risk of COVID-19. The complaint also alleged that Ching used his Whole Leaf Organics website to deceptively advertise and sell three CBD-containing products.

The final order settling the complaint bars Ching’s false and unsubstantiated health claims and requires him to send written notices to customers and retailers of Thrive explaining that it will not treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of COVID-19. He also must tell customers and retailers that the three CBD-containing products will not treat cancer. Finally, the letters must inform customers and retailers of his settlement with the FTC.

The Commission vote approving the final consent order and letter to one public commenter was 3-1-1, with Commissioner Rohit Chopra dissenting and Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter not participating. (The staff contact is Amber Lee, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2764.)

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Consumer Response Center
877-382-4357

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202-326-2161

Author: mkatz
Posted: October 19, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission’s annual report to Congress on protecting older adults, issued today, provides a detailed look at the scams that most often affect adults over 60, as well as the FTC’s research, law enforcement, and education efforts aimed at protecting older consumers—a top priority for the agency.

As part of the FTC’s efforts to understand how fraud is affecting older adults, the report, Protecting Older Consumers 2019-2020: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission, includes analysis of FTC consumer complaint data. In 2019, as in prior years, older adults (aged 60 and older) were less likely than younger adults (aged 20 to 59) to report losing money to fraud, but reported much higher individual dollar losses. In fact, people aged 80 and older reported losing the most, with a median individual reported loss of $1,600.

Although they were less likely to report falling victim to fraud overall, adults aged 60 and older were more likely to report losing money to certain specific types of scams. They were nearly six times more likely to report losing money to tech support scams than younger consumers, according to the report, and were three times more likely to report losses due to prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams. They were also more than twice as likely as younger adults to report losses due to impostor fraud where someone was impersonating a friend or family member.

The most frequent type of fraud reported by older adults was online shopping scams, which mirrored a significant increase in that type of scam reported in the early months of the pandemic across all age groups.

Older adults reported losing the most money to romance scams, with $84 million in reported losses, followed by government imposter scams at $61 million, and prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams at $51 million.

In addition to the analysis of complaints, the report also focuses on key enforcement actions the FTC has taken to protect older consumers, including against pyramid schemes and other money-making scams, bogus credit card interest rate reduction schemes, deceptive publications, and companies making unsubstantiated health claims (including some claims related to the coronavirus pandemic). The report highlights a number of ongoing law enforcement partnerships in which the FTC works with other federal agencies, along with state and local authorities, to take actions to protect older consumers.

Finally, the report details the FTC’s outreach and education efforts through such programs as the Pass it On campaign, which focuses on providing fraud prevention resources to older adults so they can help protect their communities by sharing the information and materials with family and friends.

The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the report to Congress, with Commissioner Rohit Chopra issuing a separate statement.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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202-326-2656

Staff Contact:
Patricia Poss
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2413
Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 19, 2020, 12:00 pm

Operators have bilked consumers out of at least $1 million, FTC alleges

At the request of the FTC, a federal court issued a temporary restraining order against Marc and Courtney Grisham and two companies they operate, Disruption Theory LLC and Emergent Technologies LLC, which do business as inmatecall.com and inmatecallsolutions.com.

In its complaint, the FTC alleges that the operators advertised and marketed calling plans for unlimited minutes, which they did not provide. Prison and jail calls are provided by specialized service providers, which have contracts with correctional facilities and charge for calls at predetermined per-minute rates. Specialized service providers have not and do not currently offer unlimited calling plans. This is the first case the FTC has brought involving inmate calling plans.

The FTC alleges that the operators of the scheme preyed on inmates’ families and friends who rely on phone calls to stay in touch with their incarcerated loved ones—particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person visitation has been suspended at prisons—and may be looking for cheaper calling options given the high cost of per-minute calls.

“These defendants ripped off families with loved ones in prison, selling them fake calling plans that were supposed to allow unlimited calls with those inmates,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Especially with COVID-19 restrictions now in place, the phone is a lifeline for these families, who shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of exploitation.”

According to the complaint, inmatecall.com and inmatecallsolutions.com charged prices ranging from $29.97 for one month of their purported “unlimited” service to $49.97 for three months, and $89.97 for a year.

After consumers paid for their chosen plan through the website, they were told they would still have to open and fund a separate, prepaid account with the specialized service provider approved by their correctional facility. The FTC alleges that the scheme’s operators also made it difficult for consumers to reach the company and receive refunds, generating hundreds of complaints.

The FTC alleges that Marc and Courtney Grisham and their companies violated the FTC Act.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on October 6, 2020.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Staff Contact:
Diana Chang
Western Region, San Francisco
(415) 848-5100
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 16, 2020, 12:00 pm

Atlanta-based company allegedly posed as police, made threats to consumers about non-existent debt

A federal court has shut down an Atlanta-based debt collector in response to a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that its agents threatened consumers with arrest and imprisonment and tried to collect debts that consumers did not actually owe.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Critical Resolution Mediation LLC’s collectors regularly posed as law enforcement officers, attorneys, mediators, or process servers when calling consumers, lending credence to their threats about supposed unpaid debts. In many cases, the defendants were attempting to collect on so-called “phantom” debt—debts that either were never owed—or debts that were no longer owed.

The case was brought as part of the Operation Corrupt Collector law enforcement sweep.

According to the complaint, the company’s collectors threatened not only to arrest and jail consumers who refused to pay immediately, but also to garnish consumers’ wages, revoke their drivers’ licenses, or lower their credit scores. In addition, the collectors allegedly contacted consumers at their workplaces or notified their families about the supposed debt, shared consumers’ personal information, and threatened serious legal consequences.

The collectors allegedly used profane language with consumers who refused to pay or asserted their right to review information about the purported debts. The defendants also refused to provide information about the alleged debts as required under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The complaint charges that Critical Resolution Mediation LLC, Parliament Services LLC, and Brian Charles McKenzie violated both the FTC Act and the FDCPA.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The Court entered a temporary restraining order in the case on Sept. 30, 2020.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Consumer Response Center
877-382-4357

Media Contacts:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2565

Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: ndrayton
Posted: October 15, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending PayPal payments totaling more than $7 million to victims of a tech support scam.

According to the FTC, Vast Tech Support, LLC and OMG Tech Help, LLC used free security scanning software trials to trick people into thinking there were problems with their computers and then pressured them into buying tech support products and services.

As part of settlements with the FTC, Vast Tech Support, LLC and OMG Tech Help, LLC, and their credit card payment processor, RevenueWire, Inc.—which the FTC alleged laundered credit card payments for the tech support scheme—agreed to pay money to the Commission for consumer refunds.

Explore Data RefundsThe FTC will send 127,129 refunds through PayPal over a two-day period beginning on October 14, 2020. The average refund is $55.36. Recipients who receive a refund via PayPal will have 30 days to accept the payment.

For more details about the PayPal payment process, please read the related FAQ. Consumers who do not receive a refund and think they should have, should contact the refund administrator, Rust Consulting, Inc., at 1-800-865-3878 or email admin@omgvtechscartrefund.com.

The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information to cash refund checks. Recipients who have questions about the refunds should contact the refund administrator.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of refunds. In 2019, FTC actions led to more than $373 million in refunds to consumers across the country.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Refund Administrator
800-865-3878

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2924

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 14, 2020, 12:00 pm

‘Operation Corrupt Collector’ targets debt collectors trying to collect on non-existent debts, using illegal scare tactics

The Federal Trade Commission, along with more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners, today announced a nationwide law enforcement and outreach initiative to protect consumers from phantom debt collection and abusive and threatening debt collection practices.

This crackdown encompasses more than 50 enforcement actions against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices brought by the FTC, three federal partners, and partners from 16 states.

Operation Corrupt Collector logoThe initiative, called Operation Corrupt Collector, includes five FTC law enforcement actions, including two newly announced cases and settlements in three prior actions. The two new FTC cases allege that companies were trying to collect debts they cannot legally collect or that a consumer does not owe—a practice known as phantom debt collection.

The operation also includes two cases filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three criminal cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. States reporting actions as part of the operation include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington.

“For many years, we’ve been working with our law enforcement partners to crack down on illegal and abusive debt collectors,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “At a time when many are under financial stress, our coordinated actions today show that we’re continuing the fight against collectors who threaten people and try to collect debts they don’t owe.”

In addition to law enforcement actions, state and local consumer protection agencies across the country are joining the FTC in rolling out new information to help consumers know their rights when it comes to debt collection and what steps to take if they receive a call trying to collect on a debt that they do not recognize. The FTC has also created a new online dashboard with information about reports received from consumers on debts not owed and abusive and threatening collection practices. So far in 2020, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network has received more than 85,000 reports from consumers related to debt collection, and nearly 45 percent of those were related to debts the consumer did not owe or abusive and threatening practices.

Two New FTC Actions Stop Phantom Debt Schemes and Abusive and Threatening Tactics

Don't recognize that debt? Learn more about dealing with debt collection at: ftc.gov/debtcollection. Spot a scam? Report it to: ftc.gov/complaintThe FTC recently filed two new cases as part of Operation Corrupt Collector. In each case, federal courts granted the FTC’s request to put a temporary halt to the defendants’ actions and freeze their assets.

  • National Landmark Logistics, LLCIn a case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, the FTC alleged that this company and its operators collected more than $12 million from consumers through illegal debt collection practices. The FTC’s complaint alleges that the defendants used robocalls to leave deceptive messages claiming consumers faced imminent legal action about debts. When consumers returned the calls, the defendants falsely claimed to be from a mediation or law firm, again threatened legal action, and used consumers’ personal information to convince consumers the threats were real. The complaint alleges that, in many instances, consumers did not owe the debt being collected on or the defendants had no right to collect it. The Commission vote to authorize the complaint against National Landmark Logistics, LLC; National Landmark Service of United Recovery LLC, Liberty Solutions & Associates LLC; LSA Processing System, LLC; Silverlake Landmark Recovery Group, LLC; Jean Cellent; James Dennison; and Eric Dennison was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter recorded as not participating.
     
  • Absolute Financial Services, LLC: In a case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, the FTC alleged that this company and its operators collected more than $5.2 million from consumers through illegal debt collection practices. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the company used the defendants in the National Landmark Logistics case (above) to place deceptive robocalls alleging that consumers owed debt and faced legal action if they did not reply. Once consumers called the defendants after receiving the message, the defendants often falsely claimed to be representing a law firm or threatened consumers with arrest if they did not immediately pay the debt. According to the complaint, the defendants used consumers’ personal information (provided by the National Landmark defendants) to convince consumers that the debt was legitimate. The Commission vote to authorize the complaint against Absolute Financial Services LLC, Absolute Financial Services Recovery LLC, AFSR Global Logistics, LLC, LaShone Elam, and Talesia Neely was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter not participating.

In the cases against National Landmark Logistics and Absolute Financial Services, the court entered temporary restraining orders against the defendants halting their operations, freezing their assets, and putting them under the control of a receiver. The FTC thanks the Office of the United States Attorney in Columbia, South Carolina, the York County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Department, and the Lancaster, South Carolina, Police Department for their help in these actions.

In addition to the three new actions announced today, the FTC also recently resolved three prior cases related to the issues addressed in the sweep: Global Asset Financial Services Group, LLC; Hylan Asset Management, LLC; and Campbell Capital, LLC.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 29, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission, in conjunction with federal and state partners will announce a major law enforcement sweep on a teleconference at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith and New York Attorney General Letitia James will give remarks and answer questions from the media.

WHAT:A phone-in press conference to announce a major law enforcement sweep by the FTC and federal and state partners.
WHO:FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith and New York Attorney General Letitia James will give remarks and answer questions from reporters.
WHEN:11 a.m. ET, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020.
WHERE:Via teleconference. Members of the media may dial to the press conference by dialing 844-291-6360. Access code: 1663925. Lines for media will open 15 minutes before the start of the press conference.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
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202-326-2656

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 28, 2020, 12:00 pm

A Rhode Island company and its owner will be permanently prohibited from misrepresenting they are affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of a settlement resolving Federal Trade Commission charges they misled consumers in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ponte Investments, LLC, and its owner John C. Ponte were charged by the FTC in April with misleading small businesses to think they had an affiliation with the SBA and could offer companies access to the coronavirus relief programs administered by the agency.

Using the business name “SBA Loan Program” and the website SBALoanProgram.com, Ponte and his company targeted small businesses directly through telephone calls, e-mails, and the website, according to the FTC’s complaint, claiming to be representing the SBA and soliciting loan applications on behalf of the businesses’ banks. They also made statements on their website like “WE ARE A DIRECT LENDER FOR THE PPP PROGRAM!” and “[w]e are currently offering stimulus relief spending under the Economic Security Act (Cares Act).”

The settlement prohibits defendants from (1) misrepresenting that they are authorized to accept or process applications for SBA loans and (2) misrepresenting that they are the SBA or are otherwise affiliated or associated with the SBA or the U.S. Government. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, the defendants will no longer be able to use the trade name or domain name SBA Loan Program. The settlement also bars defendants from disclosing, using, or benefitting from information collected in connection with the marketing of any SBA-related products or services unless they obtain the consumer’s express informed consent. 

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson recorded as not participating. The FTC filed the order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, and it was entered by the Court on Sept. 25, 2020.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 25, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending 4,782 checks totaling $76,368.54 to consumers who bought Isoprex, a supposed “miracle” pain supplement marketed to older Americans nationwide.

According to the FTC’s April 2020 complaint, Renaissance Health Publishing, LLC and its owner, James DiGeorgia, advertised and sold Isoprex using both direct mail brochures and websites. Isoprex is a pill consisting primarily of a combination of various herbs and spices, which the defendants claimed could provide effective relief for older adults suffering from muscle and joint pain, headaches, arthritis, joint inflammation, and a range of other ailments.

The FTC alleges that Renaissance Health Publishing, LLC falsely claimed to have tests and studies to back up their product claims. They also failed to disclose that the endorsers appearing in their Isoprex ads were either compensated for their testimonials or were company employees.

The court order settling the FTC’s complaint prohibits the defendants from making health claims unless they are true and supported by reliable tests or studies. The order also requires Renaissance Health Publishing to pay money to the Commission to provide refunds.

The FTC is sending refund checks to people who bought Isoprex. Each check will be for $15.97. People who get checks should deposit or cash them within 60 days. Consumers who did not get a refund, but believe that they should, should contact the refund administrator, Analytics, Inc., at 1-866-969-3783.

The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide information to cash refund checks. Recipients who have questions about the refunds can call Analytics at 1-866-969-3783.

The FTC’s new interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of refunds. In 2019, FTC actions led to more than $373 million in refunds to consumers across the country.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

Author: mkatz
Posted: September 24, 2020, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission has added new charges and defendants to its ongoing case against the operators of multiple alleged pyramid schemes.

In a case first filed in January, the FTC alleged that Success By Health and its executives James “Jay” Dwight Noland, Jr., Lina Noland, Scott A. Harris, and Thomas G. Sacca were operating an “instant coffee” pyramid scheme that used false promises of wealth and income to entice thousands of consumers to join.

The amended complaint alleges that the defendants were operating an additional pyramid scheme known as VOZ Travel. According to the amended complaint, the defendants sold consumers VOZ Travel “memberships” for at least $1,000 each. In exchange, they allegedly promised consumers access to a discount travel booking platform and the ability to earn rewards for recruiting other consumers to buy memberships. The complaint alleges that the defendants told consumers that some VOZ Travel members would be “making $1.53 [million] per year.” 

In fact, the amended complaint alleges, the VOZ Travel booking platform was never launched and had no imminent launch date as of the time the FTC filed its case.

In addition to the VOZ Travel charges, the complaint adds two additional corporate defendants: Nevada-based Enhanced Capital Funding and Uruguay-based corporation Rinpark SA.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the amended complaint was 3-0-2, with Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Christine S. Wilson recorded as not participating. The amended complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 24, 2020, 12:00 pm

Total refunds sent now total more than $300 million; future refund distributions are planned

Approximately $147 million is being mailed to 33,000 consumers in the second distribution of refunds resulting from the law enforcement actions brought against Western Union by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Affected consumers are receiving compensation for 100 percent of their verified losses. 

The FTC’s complaint against Western Union alleged that for many years, Western Union was aware that fraudsters around the world used the company’s money transfer system to bilk consumers, and that some Western Union agents were complicit in the frauds. The FTC’s complaint alleged that Western Union failed to put in place effective anti-fraud policies and procedures and to act promptly against problem agents.

“This round of payments is another key step in ensuring that consumers harmed by Western Union’s actions are made whole,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers were scammed out of an astonishing amount of money due to the weaknesses in Western Union’s system, and we’ll continue to take action against payment companies who facilitate fraud to stop these kinds of losses in the future.”

The company’s settlement with the FTC required Western Union to pay $586 million in monetary relief. That money was paid to DOJ in connection with Western Union’s joint settlement with that agency. DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section is administering the consumer refund program.

This is the second refund distribution resulting from the agencies’ actions against Western Union. DOJ is still reviewing petitions from consumers who were harmed by Western Union’s practices, and will be providing opportunities for consumers who have not yet applied for refunds to file claims.

More information about the Western Union refund program and its compensation to victims is available on the Western Union remission website at www.westernunionremission.com. Further questions may be directed to the Western Union Remission Administrator by phone at 844-319-2124 or by email at info@WesternUnionRemission.com.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of refunds, as well as refund programs from other FTC cases. In 2019, FTC actions led to more than $373 million in refunds to consumers across the country.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
info@WesternUnionRemission.com
844-319-2124

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 23, 2020, 12:00 pm

Globex’s former CEO and others who facilitated credit card interest reduction scheme will be banned from telemarketing to the U.S.

Globex Telecom, Inc. and an affiliated company will pay a total of $1.9 million to settle Federal Trade Commission and State of Ohio charges that they facilitated a scheme that peddled bogus credit card interest rate relief, illegally charging consumers millions of dollars. The settlement marks the end of the FTC’s first consumer protection case against a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider.

The FTC and Ohio alleged that Globex provided a company called Educare Centre Services with the means to make calls to U.S. consumers, including illegal robocalls, to market Educare’s phony credit card interest rate reduction services.

“Bombarding people with unwanted robocalls is illegal – and so is selling bogus credit card interest rate reduction services with an upfront fee,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We will continue to go after companies like Educare that target people using these unlawful practices, and VoIP service providers like Globex who knowingly help them violate the law.”

The FTC and Ohio charged that both Globex and Educare were controlled by Mohammed Souheil, Globex’s former CEO and president, who was named in the lawsuit along with a number of other corporations and individuals. All the individuals named in this action are Canadian nationals and reside outside of the U.S.

Mohammad Souheil, Prolink Vision, S.R.L., and 9896988 Canada, Inc.

Souheil, along with two corporations under his control, will be prohibited from participating in any telemarketing in the U.S. and from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). These defendants will also be prohibited from marketing debt relief products or services of any kind, and from using misrepresentations in the sale or marketing of any product or service. They, collectively, are subject to a monetary judgment of $7.5 million, which is largely suspended due to an inability to pay. They will be required to pay $150,000.

Globex Telecom, Inc. and 9506276 Canada, Inc.

In addition to paying $1.95 million, Globex and its U.S.-based subsidiaries will be prohibited from hiring Souheil, any of Souheil’s immediate family members, and defendants Charles Kharouf and Sam Madi, to work for Globex or any U.S.-based subsidiary.

These defendants will also be required to abide by client screening and monitoring provisions. For example, Globex and its subsidiaries will not provide VoIP and related services to clients who pay with stored value cards or cryptocurrency, or to clients who do not have a public-facing website or social media presence. They will be required to conduct a screening and review process for all potential clients, and to re-screen any existing client who is subject to a subpoena from the government or similar investigative request.

In addition, Globex and its subsidiaries will be required block any calls made by their clients that appear to come from certain suspicious phone numbers, including emergency numbers like 911, unassigned or invalid numbers, or international numbers that would charge consumers a large amount should they attempt to dial it. They will also be required to block calls using spoofing technology, and to terminate their relationship with any telemarketer or other high-risk client that receives three or more USTelcom Traceback Requests (an official industry complaint about unlawful calls) or line carrier complaints in a 60-day period.

Educare Centre Services, Inc.; Tripletel, Inc.; Sam Madi; Wissam Jalil; and Charles Kharouf

These defendants were sued by the FTC and Ohio for their roles in managing the overseas call centers and other components of the credit card interest rate reduction scheme. Under the terms of their settlements, they will be prohibited from participating in any telemarketing in the United States, from marketing debt relief products or services of any kind, and from using misrepresentations in the sale or marketing of any product or service.

Educare, Madi, and Kharouf will be subject to a judgment of $7.5 million that is largely suspended based on inability to pay. Educare and Madi will be required to forfeit all funds frozen in Educare’s bank accounts. Jalil and Tripletel will be subject to a $2.8 million judgment  that is largely suspended based on inability to pay. They will be required to forfeit all funds frozen in Tripletel’s bank account

If any of the defendants are found to have misrepresented their ability to pay, the full amounts of their judgments will be immediately due.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final orders was 3-0-2, with Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Christine S. Wilson recorded as not participating. The FTC filed the proposed orders in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2656

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 22, 2020, 12:00 pm

 

The FTC’s Blog on Privacy & Identity

Business Blog Posts

By Lesley Fair

A mobile banking app that promises consumers 24/7 access to their money and a high rate of interest? Sounds like a perfect 10. But according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, San Francisco-based Beam Financial stumbled on required skills and definitely didn’t stick the dismount.

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Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 18, 2020, 11:24 pm
By Lesley Fair

For people dealing with student loan debt – your employees, a family member, or maybe you – the CARES Act gives emergency grants to qualifying borrowers. But like other financial assistance programs, consumers need to know key details up front.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 16, 2020, 7:58 pm
By Lesley Fair

The FTC continues to monitor the marketplace to protect consumers from allegedly unsubstantiated COVID-19 claims. What are we seeing? Whether they’re selling tablets, treatments, or trinkets, companies are still making questionable representations about their products or services. The following 20 businesses are the latest to receive warning letters from the FTC about unsupported prevention or treatment claims, bringing the total to more than 330.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 12, 2020, 4:36 pm
By Lesley Fair

Interested in what’s going on with the Franchise Rule? Reviewing the Franchise Rule: An FTC Virtual Workshop begins at 1:00 Eastern Time today – Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Minutes before the start of the workshop, follow the link on the event page to watch the webcast. In addition, FTC staff will live tweet from the FTC’s Twitter page using the hashtag #FranchiseRuleFTC.
 

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Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 10, 2020, 4:41 pm
By Lesley Fair

This time last year, “zoom” was just a word related to speed. But the pandemic has made video conferencing platform Zoom a daily fixture for business people conferring about trade secrets, doctors and mental health professionals discussing sensitive patient information, kids keeping up with school work, and the rest of us sharing everything from the details of day-to-day life to confidential family matters.

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Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 9, 2020, 3:42 pm
By Lesley Fair

For years, the FTC has warned about imposters – scammers who masquerade as government officials, financial institutions, family members, etc., in an attempt to flimflam consumers and businesses. The FTC just filed a lawsuit alleging a variation on the imposter scheme. According to the complaint, the defendants set up dozens of look-alike websites to fool people into thinking they were ordering name-brand merchandise from established national companies.

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Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 5, 2020, 7:08 pm
By Lesley Fair

Buying a franchise is a major financial commitment for consumers. The Franchise Rule was put in place to ensure consumers have key information to weigh the risks and benefits of their potential investment. As part of its ongoing regulatory review process, the FTC is hosting an online workshop, Reviewing the Franchise Rule, on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

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Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: November 3, 2020, 7:36 pm
By Tiffany George

1970 saw the ban of cigarette advertising on TV, the debut of Doonesbury, the inaugural flight of the Boeing 747, and the start of the New York City Marathon. Another notable 1970 first celebrating its 50th anniversary this week: the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the nation’s first consumer financial privacy statute. A review of 50 years of enforcement suggests that the law has been worth its weight in gold to consumers.

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Author: Tiffany George<br />
Posted: October 27, 2020, 5:00 pm
By Monica Vaca, Associate Director, FTC Division of Consumer Response and Operations

Whether it’s a bogus message claiming your trademarks are about to expire unless you transfer money immediately or threats to ruin your credit if you don’t pay for unordered office supplies, scammers have small businesses in their sights. You can help the FTC and its partners fight fraud and you don’t even need to wear a superhero cape (unless you want to). Your story is your superpower. When you tell the FTC about frauds, scams, and other kinds of bad B2B practices, you’re helping the FTC and our law enforcement partners spot and stop scams.

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Author: Monica Vaca, Associate Director, FTC Division of Consumer Response and Operations<br />
Posted: October 22, 2020, 3:01 pm
By Lesley Fair

Pardon our pride, but we’re delighted to report that the most recent recipient of the Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership is Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: October 21, 2020, 9:11 pm

 

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