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The FTC Updates

For the FTC’s Paper, “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accontability”, May 2014, just click on Data Brokers

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Federal Trade Commission - Protecting America's Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission is sending refund checks totaling nearly $2.3 million to people who lost money to credit card debt relief schemes.

In a complaint announced in July 2019, the FTC and the state of Ohio alleged Educare Centre Services, Inc. and Tripletel, Inc. made false and unfounded promises that they would significantly reduce the interest rates on consumers’ credit cards, and also promised a 100 percent money-back guarantee if the promised rate reduction failed to materialize or if consumers were otherwise dissatisfied.

In December 2019, the FTC and Ohio amended their complaint and added Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider Globex Telecom, Inc. as a defendant. The amended complaint alleged that Globex knowingly provided the Educare scheme with the means to make calls to U.S. consumers, including illegal robocalls, to market Educare’s phony credit card interest rate reduction services.

The FTC and Ohio filed a separate complaint in 2019 that alleged that Madera Merchant Services and B&P Enterprises generated and processed remotely created payment orders or checks that allowed dishonest merchants to withdraw money from their victims’ bank accounts. Madera and B&P Enterprises supported many unscrupulous merchants, including Educare’s deceptive telemarketing scheme.

Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumersAs a result of the settlements reached with these defendants, the FTC is mailing 7,786 refund checks averaging about $293 each.

People who receive checks should deposit or cash them within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks can call the refund administrator, JND Legal Administration, at 1-833-916-3597. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds. In 2020, FTC actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but recently the United States Supreme Court ruled the FTC lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the FTC’s ability to get money back for consumers.

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:
JND Legal Administration
Refund Administrator
1-833-916-3597

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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 29, 2021, 12:00 pm

FTC alleged that Richard Berry orchestrated regional scheme to falsify consumer information on financing applications

The FTC reached an agreement with Richard Berry, the owner and manager of a group of bankrupt auto dealerships in Arizona and New Mexico, to resolve charges that he and the dealerships deceived consumers and falsified information on vehicle financing applications.  Many of the affected consumers were members of the Navajo Nation.

“When Berry’s auto dealerships falsified income and down payment information to qualify people for loans they couldn’t afford to pay back, they set people up for failure – including default, repossession, and ruined credit,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That’s why the FTC sued Berry and his dealerships.”

The FTC reached an earlier settlement with the four dealerships: Tate’s Auto Center of Winslow, Tate’s Automotive, Tate Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, and Tate’s Auto Center of Gallup. If approved by the district court, the present settlement against Berry, would result in a $450,000 payment to the FTC and conclude the FTC’s case. The settlement also included a stipulated dismissal of relief defendant Linda Tate, which has been entered by the court.

The FTC’s complaint, filed in August 2018, alleged that the defendants falsified consumers’ income and down payment information to get vehicles financed and engaged in unlawful advertising.  In an earlier ruling in the case, the judge found that the defendants violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Consumer Leasing Act (CLA) by failing to disclose legally required information in their advertisements.

In addition to the $450,000 payment, the proposed settlement prohibits Berry from misrepresenting information in documents associated with a consumer’s purchase, financing, or leasing of a motor vehicle, and misrepresenting the costs or any other material fact related to vehicle financing. The proposed order also requires Berry to provide consumers sufficient time to review and obtain a copy of the relevant vehicle financing documents and prohibits him from violating the TILA and CLA.  

The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated order was 5-0. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a concurring statement. The proposed order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

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

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

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-3707

Staff Contact:
Naomi Takagi
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3668
Author: elordan
Posted: July 29, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce on legislation to modify the FTC’s authority and address other pressing issues facing the agency.

Testifying on behalf of the Commission, FTC Chair Lina M. Khan and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips, Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, and Christine S. Wilson expressed gratitude to the Subcommittee for all it is doing to ensure the agency’s critical work can continue. Many of the reform measures currently before Congress give the Commission a much-needed boost in critical areas where enforcement tools are needed, the testimony states.

The FTC plays a critical role in ensuring that markets are fair for individuals, families, and honest businesses but, the testimony notes, the agency currently faces many challenges: A surge in corporate mergers threatens to further concentrate market power and protect dominant incumbents, and the Commission’s ability to tackle key challenges -- from COVID fraud to anticompetitive conduct – has been substantially diminished after the Supreme Court’s recent AMG decision, which barred the agency from seeking monetary relief under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act.

In addition, the testimony notes, the FTC is facing severe resource constraints as it works to address the soaring number of global mergers and acquisitions and a large numbers of consumer complaints to the agency about a broad range of pandemic-related marketplace abuses. The Commission believes that additional resources are necessary to help it effectively achieve its mission.

In spite of these challenges, the FTC has worked vigorously to ensure that its critical work can continue, the testimony states. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thanks in part to the civil penalty authority provided by this Subcommittee in the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, the Commission has successfully halted dozens of COVID-related scams. The agency also reached out to communities most affected by fraud, alerting the public to the threats posed by scams and those who facilitate them.

Of particular importance is the Committee’s work to restore the Commission’s ability to secure monetary relief from those that violate the law. Until the Supreme Court’s recent decision in AMG¸ the Commission relied on its 13(b) authority to return billions of dollars to defrauded Americans, and to ensure that lawbreaking companies could not pocket their ill-gotten gains. For example, pending cases today involve $2 billion in potential relief to victims, which is not available after AMG.

The Commission also now faces challenges in obtaining injunctive relief, the testimony notes. In FTC v. Shire ViroPharma, Inc., the Third Circuit held that the language in Section 13(b) of the FTC Act describing a company that “is engaged in, or is about to engage in” illegal conduct means the FTC can initiate enforcement actions only when a violation is either ongoing or “impending” at the time the suit is filed. This decision limits the Commission’s ability to hold accountable entities who engaged in illegal conduct that occurred entirely in the past. The district court’s recent dismissal of the FTC’s antitrust complaint against Facebook cited the ViroPharma opinion in concluding that the Commission could not use Section 13(b) to address Facebook’s alleged past anticompetitive conduct. Restoring the FTC’s power to seek injunctions and monetary relief is critical to our work to protect Americans from unlawful business conduct.

The Commission vote to approve the testimony was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about how competition benefits consumers or file an antitrust complaint. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-468-7684

Author: jwolf
Posted: July 28, 2021, 12:00 pm
WHAT: The Federal Trade Commission will host PrivacyCon 2021 to examine the latest research and trends related to consumer privacy and data security.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET
WHERE: The event will be held online. A link to view PrivacyCon will be posted the morning of the event to ftc.gov and the event page.
WHO: The event will feature remarks by Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and FTC Chief Technologist Erie Meyer, as well as presentations and discussions on a variety of privacy and data security research.
TWITTER: The event will be tweeted live from the FTC’s Twitter page (@FTC) using the hashtag #PrivacyCon21.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 26, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission voted in an open Commission meeting to retain the FTC Care Labeling Rule to ensure American consumers continue to get accurate information on how to take care of their fabrics and extend the life of their clothes. In a statement, the Commission also indicated that it will continue to consider ways to improve the Rule to the benefit of families and businesses.

The Care Labeling Rule has been in effect since 1971 and requires manufacturers and importers to attach labels with care instructions for garments and certain piece goods, providing instructions for dry cleaning or washing, bleaching, drying and ironing clothing. Public comments solicited by the FTC over the past decade show the Care Labeling Rule continues to provide valuable guidance and serve as an important tool for consumers, manufacturers, retailers, designers and dry cleaners alike.

In July 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, the Commission voted 3-2 to propose repealing this consumer protection altogether. Following that action, the FTC received more than 200 comments, with an overwhelming majority opposed to the repeal of the rule.

“The Federal Trade Commission first promulgated the Care Labeling Rule in 1971, with the goal of ensuring buyers were provided clear and accurate information on how to take care of their fabrics.  Since then, the agency periodically has reviewed the rule, seeking public comments to ensure the rule is keeping pace with new developments and still providing buyers with relevant information,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan in the open Commission meeting. “After careful consideration, I believe the record supports retaining the Care Labeling Rule and that it should not be rescinded.”

Submissions to the most recent public comment period led the Commission to conclude that repealing the rule would not be in the public interest. Many individuals and small businesses opposed the repeal, emphasizing that buyers rely on labels to help extend the life of their clothes.

Other comments the FTC received from the apparel manufacturing and cleaning industries indicated that removing the labels would increase the likelihood that their customers’ items might be damaged in the wash and, as a result, expose their businesses to unnecessary liability, the Commission noted.

The Commission voted 5-0 to issue a statement to notify the public that it will not repeal the Care Labeling Rule, as previously proposed.

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
202-468-7684

Author: jwolf
Posted: July 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

Commission unanimously adopts policy statement aimed at restoring Right to Repair for small businesses, workers, consumers, and government entities

The Federal Trade Commission today unanimously voted to ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions that prevent small businesses, workers, consumers, and even government entities from fixing their own products. The policy statement adopted today is aimed at manufacturers’ practices that make it extremely difficult for purchasers to repair their products or shop around for other service providers to do it for them. By enforcing against restrictions that violate antitrust or consumer protection laws, the Commission is taking important steps to restore the right to repair.

In May, the FTC released a report to Congress that concluded that manufacturers use a variety of methods—such as using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limiting the availability of parts and tools, or making diagnostic software unavailable—that have made consumer products harder to fix and maintain. The policy statement notes that such restrictions on repairs of devices, equipment, and other products have increased the burden on consumers and businesses. In addition, manufacturers and sellers may be restricting competition for repairs in a number of ways that might violate the law.

“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said during an open Commission meeting. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”

In the policy statement, the Commission said it would target repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The Commission also urged the public to submit complaints of violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which prohibits, among other things, tying a consumer’s product warranty to the use of a specific service provider or product, unless the FTC has issued a waiver.

The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the policy statement during an open Commission meeting live streamed to its website. Chair Lina Khan issued a statement. Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued 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.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

Today, the Federal Trade Commission will hold its second virtual open Commission meeting followed by live comments from the public. This is part of a series of monthly meetings opening the work of the Commission to the public.

WHO: Chair Lina M. Khan, Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips, Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Commissioner Christine S. Wilson, members of the public
WHAT: The meeting will follow the agenda announced on July 12.
WHEN: Today, July 21, 2021 1 p.m. ET. Note: The start time for this meeting previously had been scheduled for 12 p.m. ET.
WHERE: The meeting will be livestreamed via webcast

The event will be recorded, and the webcast and any related comments will be available on the Commission’s website after the meeting. The Commission retains discretion to make public comments available following the event on ftc.gov. Due to challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, open meetings will be held virtually until further notice. The FTC’s future public meeting agendas will be posted on the Commission’s website at least seven days prior to the Commission’s next monthly meeting.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-468-7684

Author: bacree
Posted: July 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

July 27 online event will highlight cutting-edge privacy and security research

The Federal Trade Commission has released the final agenda for its sixth annual PrivacyCon event, which will be held online on July 27, and will include a focus on the privacy and security risks associated with algorithms, online advertising, and the Internet of Things.

PrivacyCon 2021 will highlight exciting new research and build on discussions in the United States and around the globe on trends related to consumer privacy and data security. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Chief Technologist Erie Meyer will give opening remarks followed by six panels focused on algorithms, privacy considerations and understanding, advertising technology, the Internet of Things, privacy issues related to children and teens, and privacy and the pandemic. The event will also feature a presentation on the Algorithmic Bias Playbook by Ziad Obermeyer, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Berkeley School of Public Health.

The full agenda and links to the research that will be presented at PrivacyCon 2021 are available on the event page. PrivacyCon will take place online from 9 a.m. ET  to 5 p.m. ET. A link to view PrivacyCon 2021 will be posted on the event page the morning of the event. Registration is not required.

 

AGENDA

Introduction

Jamie Hine, Senior Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Welcome to PrivacyCon

Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

Opening Remarks

Erie Meyer, Chief Technologist, Federal Trade Commission

Panel 1: Algorithms

  • Basileal Imana, University of Southern California, Auditing for Discrimination in Algorithms Delivering Job Ads
  • Hongyan Chang, National University of Singapore, On the Privacy Risks of Algorithm Fairness
  • Martin Strobel, National University of Singapore, On the Privacy Risks of Model Explanations

Moderator:  Devin Willis, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Algorithms Presentation

  • Ziad Obermeyer, University of California at Berkeley, Algorithmic Bias Playbook Presentation

Moderator:  Lerone Banks, Technologist, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Panel 2: Privacy – Considerations and Understanding

  • Nico Ebert, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Bolder is Better:  Raising User Awareness Through Salient and Concise Privacy Notices
  • Siddhant Arora, Carnegie Mellon University, Finding a Choice in a Haystack:  Automatic Extraction of Opt-Out Statements from Privacy Policy Text
  • Cameron Kormylo, Virginia Tech, Reconsidering Privacy Choices:  The Impact of Defaults, Reversibility, and Repetition
  • Peter Mayer, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Now I’m a bit angry – Individuals’ Awareness, Perception, and Responses to Data Breaches that Affected Them

Moderator:  Danielle Estrada, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Panel 3: AdTech

  • Imane Fouad, Inria (France), Missed by Filter Lists:  Detecting Unknown Third-Party Trackers with Invisible Pixels
  • Janus Varmarken, University of California Irvine, The TV is Smart and Full of Trackers: Measuring Smart TV Advertising and Tracking
  • Miranda Wei, University of Washington, What Twitter Knows:  Characterizing Ad Targeting Practices, User Perceptions, and Ad Explanations Through Users’ Own Twitter Data

Moderator:  Miles Plant, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Panel 4: IoT

  • Anupam Das, North Carolina State University, Hey Alexa, is this Skill Safe:  Taking a Closer Look at the Alexa Skill Ecosystem
  • Jeffrey Young, Clemson University, Measuring the Policy Compliance of Voice Assistant Applications
  • Pardis Emami-Naeni, University of Washington, Which Privacy and Security Attributes Most Impact Consumers’ Risk Perception and Willingness to Purchase IoT Devices?
  • Genevieve Liberte, Florida International University, Real-time Analysis of Privacy (un)Aware IoT Applications

Moderator:  Linda Holleran Kopp, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Panel 5: Privacy – Children and Teens

  • Mohammad Mannan, Concordia University (Canada), Betrayed by the Guardian - Security and Privacy Risks of Parental Control Solutions and Parental Controls:  Safer Internet Solutions or New Pitfalls?
  • Cameryn Gonnella, BBB National Programs, Risky Business - The Current State of Teen Privacy in the Android App Marketplace

Moderator:  Manmeet Dhindsa, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

Panel 6: Privacy and the Pandemic

  • Marzieh Bitaab, Arizona State University, Scam Pandemic:  How Attackers Exploit Public Fear through Phishing
  • Christine Geeng, University of Washington, Social Media COVID-19 Misinformation Interventions Viewed Positively, But Have Limited Impact

Moderator:  Christina Yeung, Technologist, Federal Trade Commission, Office of Technology Research and Investigation

Closing Remarks

Lerone Banks, Technologist, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Privacy & Identity Protection

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:
Jamie Hine
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2188
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 20, 2021, 12:00 pm

New Jersey-based defendants are banned from telemarketing, will pay more than $1.6 million, and turn over property

Find out about Do Not Call complaints and registrationsThe owners of a New Jersey-based company that sells septic tank cleaning products agreed to a permanent ban on telemarketing and will pay more than $1.6 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company and its telemarketer made illegal robocalls to consumers, including tens of millions of calls to numbers listed on the agency’s Do Not Call Registry. In addition, the defendants will turn over a residential property as part of the settlement.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Environmental Safety International, Inc. or ESI; ESI’s two officers, brothers Joseph Carney and Sean Carney; and their other brother Raymond Carney, acted together to initiate more than 45 million illegal telemarketing calls to consumers nationwide between January 2018 and March 2019 to promote ESI’s “Activator 1000” line of septic tank cleaning products. The FTC alleges that 31 million of those calls were made to numbers on the DNC Registry. The Department of Justice filed the complaint and proposed orders on the FTC’s behalf.

ESI Activator 1000 productAccording to the complaint, the defendants’ telemarketers falsely told consumers they were calling from an unnamed “environmental company” to give consumers “free info” on their septic tank cleaning product. Despite being told the robocall was “not a sales call or solicitation,” consumers who “pressed one” to receive free information instead received a sales pitch.

The complaint also alleges that ESI sent letters to consumers who agreed to buy their products but had unpaid invoices, falsely claiming that they would be referred to a “national collection agency” or to an attorney. However, ESI never took either of these actions.

In addition to the bans on telemarketing, the settlement orders impose $10.2 million civil penalty judgments against all defendants, which will be partially suspended after Joseph and Sean Carney pay $1,646,210 to the U.S. Treasury and Raymond Carney pays $15,000 to the Treasury.

In addition, Joseph and Sean Carney are prohibited from making material misrepresentations to consumers, including that they would be referred to an attorney or collection agency. They are prohibited from billing or attempting to collect payments from any consumers in connection with the sale of their septic tank cleaning products, and are required to notify all ESI customers with unpaid balances that they no longer have to pay ESI because their balances have been cancelled. Joseph and Sean Carney must also apply for ESI’s dissolution within 30 days.

The Commission vote to refer the civil penalty complaint and consent orders to the DOJ for filing was 4-0. The DOJ filed the complaint on behalf of the FTC in the U.S. District Court for District of New Jersey and the settlements have been approved 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
202-326-2161

Staff Contact:
Amy Hocevar
FTC’s East Central Region
216-263-3455
Author: mkatz
Posted: July 16, 2021, 12:00 pm

Agency charged the company with deceiving loan applicants about hidden fees

Online lender LendingClub Corporation agreed to pay $18 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company deceived consumers about hidden fees that it charged and about whether their loan applications were approved.

In addition, the settlement bars LendingClub from making misrepresentations to loan applicants and requires that the company clearly and conspicuously disclose the amount of any prepaid, up-front, or origination fee and the total amount of funds that borrowers will receive.

“Companies that profit by preying on consumers don’t just harm the families they cheated — they also harm their competitors that play by the rules. LendingClub fleeced consumers looking for a loan online, and will pay $18 million for its alleged misconduct,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Moving forward, when it comes to misconduct in the financial services arena, the FTC will bring joint actions with state and federal partners to seek penalties that deter wrongdoing market-wide, before it can harm consumers.”

The FTC sued LendingClub in April 2018, charging that the company falsely promised loan applicants that they would receive a specific loan amount with “no hidden fees,” when in reality the company deducted hundreds or even thousands of dollars in hidden up-front fees from the loans. The FTC also alleged that LendingClub told consumers they were approved for loans when they were not, and took money from consumers’ bank accounts without authorization.

In an earlier ruling, the court found that LendingClub falsely told loan applicants that their loans were “on the way” and “100% Backed” while knowing that many of them would never get a loan. And according to the FTC’s complaint, the company also withdrew double payments from consumers’ accounts and charged those who cancelled automatic payments or paid off their loan, which led to overdraft fees and prevented borrowers from making other payments.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 4-0-1, with Chair Khan not participating. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

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

Contact For Consumers:

Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-468-7684

Staff Contact:
Katharine Roller
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(312) 960-5605
Author: bjames@ftc.gov
Posted: July 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

Today, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan announced that an open meeting of the Commission will be held virtually on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. The open meeting will begin at 1 p.m. ET and will be followed by a time for members of the public to address the Commission.

The following items will be on the tentative agenda for the July 21 event:

Business Before the Commission

Care Labeling Rule: In July 2011, the Commission initiated a regulatory review proceeding of the Care Labeling Rule. As part of the proceeding, the Commission has solicited public comments on multiple proposals to change the rule, including a proposal to repeal the Rule entirely. The Commission will vote on whether to rescind the proposal to repeal the Care Labeling Rule.

Proposed Policy Statement on Repair Restrictions Imposed by Manufacturers and Sellers: The FTC Act authorizes the Commission to adopt policy statements. The Commission will vote on whether to issue a new policy statement, following the Commission's “Nixing the Fix” report which was unanimously agreed to and announced on May 6, 2021.

Policy Statement on Prior Approval and Prior Notice Provisions in Merger Cases: In 1995, the Commission adopted a policy statement regarding “prior approval” and “prior notice” remedies in merger cases. The Commission will vote on whether to rescind this policy statement.

Public Comments

After the Commission has conducted its business, Chair Khan will offer brief remarks and will then invite members of the public to share feedback on the Commission’s work generally and bring relevant matters to the Commission’s attention. Members of the public must sign up for an opportunity to address the Commission virtually at the July 21 event. Each commenter will be allowed to speak for no more than one minute. Anyone who cannot participate during the event may submit written comments or a link to a prerecorded video through a web form. Speaker registration and comment submission will be available through July 18, 2021 at 8 p.m. ET.

The FTC’s public meeting agendas will be posted on the Commission’s website at least seven days prior to the Commission’s next monthly meeting. A link to the webcast of the open meeting will be posted at FTC.gov shortly before the event starts. The event will be recorded, and the webcast and any related comments will be available on the Commission’s website after the meeting. The Commission retains discretion to make public comments available following the event on ftc.gov. Due to challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, open meetings will be held virtually until further notice.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Lindsay Kryzak
Office of Public Affairs
202-677-0998

Author: mkatz
Posted: July 12, 2021, 12:00 pm

Under a settlement with the agency, the companies and their CEO will be permanently barred from payment processing and related business activities

Two Florida companies and their CEO will be permanently barred from offering payment-processing services to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they aided a criminal student debt relief scam that bilked $62 million from thousands of students and their families.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Moneta Management, LLC, Moneta Management, Inc., and their CEO Michael Todd Greene knowingly provided false or deceptive information to credit card and ACH processors to obtain merchant processing for the scam operated by Brandon Frere and his three companies. Frere and his companies reached a settlement with the FTC in November 2020 and also pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in 2019.

Greene and his companies submitted payment processing applications that concealed Frere’s scam, denied that Frere and his companies were offering consumers prohibited debt relief services, and ignored repeated warnings and direct evidence that Frere’s scam was defrauding consumers and violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule, according to the complaint. The accounts that Greene and his companies helped create for Frere’s scam allowed the processing of credit card and debit payments from consumers.

As part of the settlement with the FTC, Greene and his two companies will be barred from payment processing, acting as a sales agent or independent sales organization, and from assisting and facilitating unfair and deceptive trade practices. The proposed final order also imposes a monetary judgment of $28.6 million on Greene and his companies, which will be partially suspended after payment of $20,493 due to their inability to pay the full amount. They will be required to pay the full amount if they are found to have misrepresented their finances.

The Commission voted 4-0-1 to file the complaint and proposed final order. Chair Lina Khan did not participate. The FTC filed the complaint and final order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The Court approved the final order on July 8, 2021.

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. 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:
Consumer Response Center
877-382-4357

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

Staff Contact:
Lara Tumeh
FTC’s Southeast Region
404-656-1367
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 12, 2021, 12:00 pm

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final administrative consent order against Scottsdale, Arizona-based Kushly Industries LLC (Kushly) and the company’s owner, Cody Alt, for allegedly making false or unsupported health claims during the marketing and sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products to consumers.

According to the FTC’s May 2021 complaint, Kushly and Alt made false or unsubstantiated claims that their CBD products could effectively treat or cure a host of conditions—from common ailments, like acne and psoriasis, to more serious diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. In addition, the complaint alleges the respondents falsely told consumers that scientific studies or research prove that CBD product effectively treat, mitigate, or cure the diseases, including hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.         

The final order settling the FTC’s charges bars the respondents from the illegal conduct alleged in the complaint and requires them to pay the FTC $30,583.14—the amount consumers paid Kushly for products sold using the deceptive marketing.

The Commission vote approving the final administrative consent order was 4-0-1, with Chair Lina Khan not participating.

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:
Reid Tepfer
FTC’s Southwest Region
214-979-9395
Author: mkatz
Posted: July 6, 2021, 12:00 pm

The operators of a scheme that falsely promised participants could earn large sums of money from memberships sold to other participants will be permanently prohibited from engaging in any future business and investment opportunity as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Operation Income IllusionIn a complaint first announced in November 2020 as part of the Operation Income Illusion crackdown on work-from-home and employment scams, the FTC alleged that Digital Income System, Inc., and five individual defendants falsely told consumers they could earn commissions from the sale of memberships in the defendants’ programs. For example, the website stated, “Consumers will earn between $500 and $12,500 per sale,” and “Every time one of our professionals closes a sale on your behalf, we will send you a huge commission check right to your doorstep.”

The defendants allegedly charged consumers between $1,000 and $25,000 for Digital Income System’s memberships, which gave consumers access to their own website where they could earn commissions from the sale of memberships to other consumers. Despite these promises, the vast majority of consumers who paid the defendants never earned substantial income, and in fact many consumers earned nothing, the FTC alleged.

The settlement is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to target those who trick people into handing over their money with the false promise of big earnings.

Under the settlement with the FTC, Digital Income System, along with its owners Derek Jones Foley and William Foley and promoter Jennifer Hedrick are permanently prohibited from creating, advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, or selling any business or investment opportunity or misrepresenting the amount of money someone can earn from any type of business; prohibited from assisting anyone else in such activity; and prohibited from owning any financial interest in a business engaging in such activity.

The settlement also imposes a nearly $3.6 million judgment against Digital Income System and Derek and William Foley and a $217,426 judgment against Hedrick. The judgments will be partially suspended, due to the defendants’ inability to pay the full amount, after all four defendants turn over various assets. If they are found to have misrepresented their finances, they will be required to pay the full amount.

A default judgment was entered on March 23, 2021, against two additional defendants who promoted the scheme, Christopher Brandon Frye and Kaitlyn Scott, that includes similar requirements. It also includes a $600,000 monetary judgment against Frye and $171,500 against Scott.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final orders with Digital Income System, Derek and William Foley, and Jennifer Hedrick was 4-0. The FTC filed the stipulated final orders in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The Court approved the final orders on July 1, 2021.

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


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

Staff Contact:
Harold E. Kirtz
FTC Southeast Region
404-656-1357
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 2, 2021, 12:00 pm

Annual event offers targeted advice to the military community on ways to avoid scams

The Federal Trade Commission and its federal, state, and local partners are launching Military Consumer Month 2021, a month-long education effort that provides targeted resources for military communities on how to avoid scams and fraud.

Throughout the month, the FTC will highlight how to spot the signs of a scam, recover from identity theft, and use some of the special legal protections given to servicemembers. The FTC will also be focusing on how to stay safe online, an issue that has taken on increased importance as much of daily life moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FTC encourages people to support the military and veteran communities by subscribing to Military Consumer’s email updates at www.militaryconsumer.gov, sharing its social media posts on Twitter or Facebook, and joining one of the Military Consumer Month activities.

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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

Agency to Focus on Mergers, Repeat Offenders, Big Tech Companies, the Healthcare Industry, Harms Against Workers and Small Businesses, COVID-19 Scams

The Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a series of resolutions authorizing investigations into key law enforcement priorities for the next decade. Specifically, the resolutions direct agency staff to use “compulsory process,” such as subpoenas, to investigate seven specific enforcement priorities. Priority targets include repeat offenders; technology companies and digital platforms; and healthcare businesses such as pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy benefits managers, and hospitals. The agency is also prioritizing investigations into harms against workers and small businesses, along with harms related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, at a time when merger filings are surging, the agency is ramping up enforcement against illegal mergers, both proposed and consummated.

In remarks delivered during the open meeting, Chair Lina M. Khan noted that the resolutions approved today represent an important step in rethinking the work of the FTC. Instituting new cross-agency, investigatory resolutions will promote a more holistic use of the FTC’s enforcement authorities to stop bad actors across markets.

“The reforms are designed to ensure that our staff can comprehensively investigate unlawful business practices across the economy,” said Chair Khan. “They will help relieve unnecessary burdens on staff and cut back delays and ‘red tape’ bureaucracy when it comes to advancing our Commission’s law enforcement priorities. This is particularly important given that we are in the midst of a massive merger boom.”

Compulsory process refers to the issuance of demands for documents and testimony, through the use of civil investigative demands and subpoena. The FTC Act authorizes the Commission to use compulsory process in its investigations. Compulsory process requires the recipient to produce information, and these orders are enforceable by courts. The Commission has routinely adopted compulsory process resolutions on a wide range of topics. Many of these resolutions cover specific industries, like the automobile industry or the postsecondary education industry, while others involve business practices that cut across sectors, like privacy or the targeting of older Americans.

The actions taken today will broaden the ability for FTC investigators and prosecutors to obtain evidence in critical investigations on key areas where the FTC’s work can make the most impact. Each omnibus authorizes investigations into any competition or consumer protection conduct violations under the FTC Act. The omnibuses will also allow staff to use compulsory process to investigate both proposed mergers and consummated mergers. Individual Commissioners will continue to be required to sign compulsory process documents prior to issuance. With these in place, the FTC can better utilize its limited resources and move forward in earnest to fix the market structures that allow the worst predators to proliferate.

The Commission voted 3-2 to approve the omnibus resolutions in an open Commission meeting. Chair Khan and Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter voted yes, and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson voted no.  Commissioner Chopra issued a statement.  Commissioner Wilson issued a dissenting statement.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and 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, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Lindsay Kryzak
Office of Public Affairs
202-677-0998

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

Today, the Federal Trade Commission will hold a virtual open Commission meeting followed by live comments from the public. This will be the first of a series of monthly meetings that will open the work of the Commission to the public.

WHO: Chair Lina M. Khan, Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips, Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Commissioner Christine S. Wilson, members of the public
WHAT: The meeting will follow the agenda announced on June 24th
WHEN: Today, July 1, 2021 12 p.m. ET
WHERE:

The meeting will be livestreamed via webcast

The event will be recorded, and the webcast and any related comments will be available on the Commission’s website after the meeting.  The Commission retains discretion to make public comments available following the event on ftc.gov. Due to challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, open meetings will be held virtually until further notice. The FTC’s future public meeting agendas will be posted on the Commission’s website at least seven days prior to the Commission’s next monthly meeting.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-468-7684

Author: jwolf
Posted: July 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

Made in USA labels will finally mean goods were made in America

The Federal Trade Commission finalized a new rule that will crack down on marketers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are Made in the USA. Under the rule, marketers making unqualified Made in USA claims on labels should be able to prove that their products are “all or virtually all” made in the United States.

Commissioner Rohit Chopra was joined by Chair Lina Khan and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter in a statement, which noted the rule will especially benefit small businesses that rely on the Made in USA label, but lack the resources to defend themselves from imitators. The new rule codifies a broader range of remedies by the FTC, including the ability to seek redress, damages, penalties, and other relief from those who lie about a Made in USA label. It will enable the Commission for the first time to seek civil penalties of up to $43,280 per violation of the rule.

While stiff penalties are not appropriate in every instance, they send a strong signal to would-be violators that they abuse the Made in USA label at their peril.

“The final rule provides substantial benefits to the public by protecting businesses from losing sales to dishonest competitors and protecting purchasers seeking to purchase American-made goods,” said Commissioner Chopra. “More broadly, this long-overdue rule is an important reminder that the Commission must do more to use the authorities explicitly authorized by Congress to protect market participants from fraud and abuse.”

In 1994, after the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, Congress enacted legislation authorizing the FTC to seek penalties and other relief for Made in USA fraud, but only after the Commission issued a rule. However, there had long been a bipartisan consensus at the FTC that Made in USA fraud should not be penalized. The final Made in USA Labeling Rule changes course on the Commission’s longtime approach.

The rule does not impose any new requirements on businesses. Instead, it codifies the FTC’s longstanding enforcement policy statement regarding U.S.-origin claims. By codifying this guidance into a formal rule, the Commission can increase deterrence of Made in USA fraud and seek restitution for victims.

Over the course of the rulemaking, the FTC heard from hundreds of ranchers and shrimpers concerned about Made in the USA labels that mislead consumers. The Commission is pleased that in conjunction with this announcement, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the USDA will complement the FTC’s efforts with its own initiative on labeling for products such as beef, and other agricultural products regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service.  

The Commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for this rule in June 2020. The Commission received more than 700 comments on the proposed rule, most of which either were supportive, or sought changes that were not legally permissible. The final rule adds a provision allowing marketers to seek exemptions if they have evidence showing their unqualified Made-in-USA claims are not deceptive. . 

The Made in USA Labeling Rule, which will be published in the Federal Register, incorporates guidance set forth in the Commission’s previous Decisions and Orders and its 1997 Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims.

Consistent with this guidance, the rule will prohibit marketers from including unqualified Made in USA claims on labels unless: 1) final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States; 2) all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the United States; and 3) all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.

The rule applies only to labeling claims. The FTC will continue to bring enforcement action against marketers that make deceptive U.S.-origin claims falling outside the rule under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC is authorized to seek penalties for violations of the rule. It does not supersede, alter, or affect any other federal statute or regulation relating to country-of-origin labels.

The Commission vote approving publication of the final Made in USA Labeling Rule in the Federal Register was 3-2. Commissioner Christine Wilson also issued a dissenting statement on the rule, and another dissenting statement regarding the overall meeting agenda.

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
202-326-3707

Staff Contact:
Julia Solomon Ensor
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2377
Author: elordan
Posted: July 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

New Rules Will Unlock Civil Penalties and Damages for Violators

The Federal Trade Commission approved changes to its Rules of Practice to modernize the way it issues Trade Regulation Rules under Section 18 of the FTC Act, which will provide a roadmap for businesses, stop widespread consumer harm, and promote robust competition.

These changes bring agency procedures back in line with the 1975 statute that granted the agency Section 18 rulemaking authority, and they build on the agency’s announcement earlier this year of a Rulemaking Group within the office of the General Counsel. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter was joined by FTC Chair Lina Khan and Commissioner Rohit Chopra in a statement, noting the changes will reinvigorate the FTC’s rulemaking procedures and vastly improve the Commission’s work on behalf of consumers and small businesses.

 “These changes show the FTC is turning the page on decades of self-imposed red-tape and returning to the participatory and dynamic process for issuing Section 18 rules that Congress envisioned. Clear rules help honest businesses comply with the law and better protect consumers and workers against bad actors. They will also lead to substantial market-wide deterrence due to significant civil penalties for rulebreakers,” said Commissioner Slaughter. “Streamlined procedures for Section 18 rulemaking means that the Commission will have the ability to issue timely rules on issues ranging from data abuses to dark patterns to other unfair and deceptive practices widespread in our economy.”

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that courts can no longer award refunds to consumers in FTC cases brought under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, reversing four decades of case law that the Commission has used to provide billions of dollars of refunds to harmed consumers. In light of that decision, pursuing violations of Trade Regulation Rules – also referred to as the Magnuson-Moss Rules – will allow the Commission to seek redress, damages, penalties, and other relief from wrongdoers.

The amendments make changes to the Commission’s procedure for initiating rulemaking proceedings, and the process by which members of the public can seek an informal hearing in a rulemaking. For example, under the revised rules, informal hearing procedures make it easier for stakeholders to participate. Other changes include elimination of requirements in the current rules that are not mandated by the FTC Act, including publication of a staff report containing an analysis of the rulemaking record and recommendations as to the form of the final rule for public comment. The rulemaking procedures build in extensive opportunities for public input, far in excess of the opportunities for public comment under the Administrative Procedure Act.

In addition, the notice clarifies the roles of several FTC offices to reflect the agency’s current operations including the Office of General Counsel, Office of International Affairs, and the FTC’s regional offices.

The Commission voted 3-2 in an open Commission meeting to approve the changes and publish the notice in the Federal Register. The changes will go into effect when the notice is published in the Federal Register. Chair Khan and Commissioners Chopra and Slaughter voted yes, and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson voted no. Commissioner Wilson issued a dissenting 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.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

The operators of an online coloring book app will be required to notify parents and offer refunds to current underage subscribers to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they violated a children’s privacy law by collecting and disclosing personal information about children who used the app without notifying their parents and obtaining their consent.

In a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, the Commission alleged that the Toronto-based Kuuhuub Inc., along with its Finnish subsidiaries Kuu Hubb Oy and Recolor Oy, violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule). The Rule requires websites and apps to provide notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from children if the website or app—or even a portion of the website or app—is directed at children under 13.

“The law is clear: the personal information of children is off limits, and the FTC will continue to investigate companies like Recolor that break or bend the law,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Even if only a portion of an app or website is directed to kids, companies cannot collect their personal information without parental consent, especially if their app or website offers social media features.”

The companies operate the Recolor coloring book app, which provides images that users can digitally color on their mobile devices. While billed as a “coloring book for adults,” a portion of the coloring book app was directed to children. The images are organized in a library with categories such as Movies and Animals. One popular category, called Kids, included images that would appeal to children, such as animated characters and cartoonish animals.

In addition to the coloring feature, the app, which generates revenues from ads and paid subscriptions, offers social media features such as the ability to upload images for others to view, comment on, and like. To access these social media features, users must register for an account by providing an email address, screen name, and an optional profile description and picture, which are made public to other users.

The FTC alleged that some children including those under 13 were able to register for accounts and use some of the social media features. The companies received dozens of complaints from parents and users who said that children were using the app’s social media features such as posting selfies and interacting with other users including adults.

In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the Recolor app collected personal information from children under the age of 13 who used the app’s social media features and allowed third-party advertising networks to collect personal information from users in the form of persistent identifiers, also known as cookies, for targeted ads. The companies failed to instruct the ad networks to refrain from using children’s persistent identifiers for behavioral advertising, according to the complaint. The FTC also alleged that the companies failed to provide notice to parents or obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from underage users of the Recolor app in violation of the COPPA Rule.

Under the settlement, the companies must delete all the personal information they collected from children under 13 unless they obtain parental consent, and must offer current paid subscribers of the Recolor app a refund if they were under the age of 18 when they signed up for the app. The companies also agreed to a $3 million monetary penalty, which will be suspended upon payment of $100,000 due to their inability to pay the full amount. They will be required to pay the full amount if they have misrepresented their finances. In addition, if they sell the app within a year following entry of the order, they must remit the net proceeds from the sale to the FTC, after the payment of debts and other related expenses.

The companies must notify users of the app about the alleged COPPA Rule violations and the steps that users can take in response to the settlement.

The Commission voted 4-0 to authorize the Department of Justice to file the complaint and stipulated final order. The complaint and proposed consent decree were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a 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. Consent decrees 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
202-326-2924

Staff Contact:
Evan Rose
Western Region San Francisco
415-848-5141
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: July 1, 2021, 12:00 pm

Agency further charges Frank Romero violated the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act by misrepresenting mask quality, and the Mail, Internet, Telephone Order Merchandise Rule for failing to cancel and refund orders

The Federal Trade Commission charged an online marketer with falsely promising consumers that he could quickly deliver facemasks and other personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, then failing to deliver on customers’ orders or offer cancellations or refunds.

In a federal court complaint filed today, the FTC alleges that Frank Romero (d/b/a Trend Deploy) took advantage of consumers’ fear of COVID-19 by advertising the availability and quick delivery of PPE, including N95 facemasks, even though he had no basis to make those promises.

Romero allegedly failed to deliver PPE on time (if at all), failed to notify consumers of delayed shipments, failed to offer the cancellations and refunds required by the FTC’s Mail Order Rule, and failed to honor requests for refunds so consumers could buy these products elsewhere. When Romero eventually did deliver, the complaint states, he often sent products inferior to those consumers ordered. Most notably, he advertised N95 masks, but allegedly delivered cloth masks instead.

Find out about consumer fraud reports in your state and nationallyThe complaint alleges that in addition to violating the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act and the Mail Order Rule, Romero’s deceptive and unfair conduct also violated the FTC Act. In its complaint, the agency is seeking monetary relief for consumers and civil penalties.

Other cases to protect consumers from those taking advantage of the recent high demand for PPE by advertising the availability and quick delivery of these products, but failing to meet those promises, include SuperGoodDeals, Glowyy, Zaappaaz/wrist-band.com, and American Screening. The complaint against Romero is the first in a PPE case bringing charges under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 4-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

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 Contacts:
Christopher Erickson
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3671

Michael Mora
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3373
Author: mkatz
Posted: June 30, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending checks totaling more than $316,000 to 10,689 people who lost money to a student loan debt relief scheme.

Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumersIn a complaint first announced in March 2020, the FTC alleged SLAC (which also used the name Aspyre), Navloan, and Student Loan Assistance Center, and their owner, Adam Owens, falsely told consumers that, for an upfront fee of $699 and a monthly fee of $39, the defendants would permanently lower or eliminate student loan debt. In reality, the payments could change every year, and loan forgiveness was not guaranteed for any consumer. The FTC also alleged that the defendants paid consumers for positive reviews on the Better Business Bureau website and failed to disclose those payments.

As part of a settlement with the FTC, the defendants agreed to pay funds, which are being used to send payments to affected consumers.

People who receive checks should deposit or cash their checks within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks can call the refund administrator, Analytics, at 888-440-0371. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds. In 2020, FTC actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but recently the United States Supreme Court ruled the FTC lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the FTC’s ability to get money back for consumers.

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:
Analytics
Refund Administrator
1-888-440-0371

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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: June 25, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending refunds totaling more than $223,000 to people who lost money to a student loan and mortgage debt relief operation.

The FTC alleged that A1 DocPrep Inc., Streamlined Marketing, and their owner, Horman Ardalan falsely claimed to be from the Department of Education, and promised to reduce borrowers’ monthly payments or forgive their student loans in exchange for illegal upfront fees, according to the FTC’s September 2017 complaint. The FTC also alleged the defendants targeted distressed homeowners by making false promises that they would provide mortgage relief and prevent foreclosure.Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumers

The refunds stem from settlements the defendants reached with the FTC that also ban them from debt relief and telemarketing activities and prohibits them from making misrepresentations or unsubstantiated claims related to other financial products or services.

The FTC is mailing 136 checks to consumers who previously filed a complaint with law enforcement. The checks average $1,641 each. People who receive checks should deposit or cash their checks within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks can call the refund administrator, Analytics, at 844-695-0454. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds. In 2020, FTC actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but recently the United States Supreme Court ruled the FTC lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the FTC’s ability to get money back for consumers.

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:
Analytics
Refund Administator
844-695-0454

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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: June 24, 2021, 12:00 pm

Today, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan announced an open meeting of the Commission will be held virtually on Thursday, July 1, 2021. This will be the first of a series of monthly meetings that will open the work of the Commission to the public. The open meeting will begin at 12 p.m. ET, and will be followed by a time for members of the public to address the Commission.

The following items will be on the tentative agenda for the July 1 event:

Business Before the Commission

Made in the USA Rule: The Commissioners will vote on whether to finalize the Made in the USA Rule. The rule would help ensure that consumers can confidently buy American, and that honest companies can realize the benefits of the Made in USA label.

Section 18 Rulemaking Procedures: The Commissioners will vote on whether to streamline the procedures for Section 18 rules prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Section 18 rules allow the Commission to seek redress for defrauded consumers and penalties against firms that cheat.

“Statement of Enforcement Principles Regarding ‘Unfair Methods of Competition’ Under Section 5 of the FTC Act” (2015): The Commissioners will vote on whether to rescind the policy statement issued by the Commission in 2015 in order to better align with the requirements set out by Congress to condemn “unfair methods of competition.”

Enforcement Investigations: The Commissioners will vote on whether to approve a series of resolutions that will streamline investigations by Commission staff into specific industries or specific conduct. The resolutions would provide ongoing authority for a single Commissioner to approve the use of compulsory process in those investigations.

Public Comments

After conducting its business, the Commission will invite members of the public to share feedback on the Commission’s work generally and bring relevant matters to the Commission’s attention. Members of the public must sign up for an opportunity to address the Commission virtually at the July 1 event. Anyone who cannot participate during the event may submit a prerecorded video via weblink. Each commenter will be allowed to speak for no more than one minute. Written comments will be accepted through a web form.

The FTC’s public meeting agendas will be posted on the Commission’s website at least seven days prior to the Commission’s next monthly meeting. The event will be recorded, and the webcast and any related comments will be available on the Commission’s website after the meeting.  The Commission retains discretion to make public comments available following the event on ftc.gov. Due to challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, open meetings will be held virtually until further notice.

CONTACT INFORMATION


Media Contact:
Lindsay Kryzak
Office of Public Affairs
202-677-0998

Author: jwolf
Posted: June 24, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission finalized a settlement that will require Flo Health Inc. to obtain the affirmative consent of users of the company’s fertility-tracking app before sharing their personal health information with others and to obtain an independent review of their privacy practices.

In a complaint first announced in January, the FTC alleges that despite promising to keep users’ health data private, Flo shared sensitive health data from millions of users of its Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker app with marketing and analytics firms, including Facebook and Google.

As part of the settlement, Flo Health must notify affected users about the disclosure of their health information and instruct any third party that received users’ health information to destroy that data. Flo also is prohibited from misrepresenting:

  • the purposes for which it (or entities to whom it discloses data) collect, maintain, use, or disclose the data;
  • how much consumers can control these data uses;
  • its compliance with any privacy, security, or compliance program; and
  • how it collects, maintains, uses, discloses, deletes, or protects users’ personal information.

After receiving five comments, the Commission voted 4-0-1 to finalize the settlement and to send responses to the commenters. FTC Chair Lina Khan did not participate in the vote. In responding to commenters, the Commission noted that it is currently undertaking a review of the Health Breach Notification Rule, and is actively considering public comments regarding the application of the Rule to mobile applications and other direct-to-consumer technologies that handle consumers’ sensitive health information.

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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: June 22, 2021, 12:00 pm

“Blessings in No Time” program targeted African Americans and harmed people struggling financially during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Federal Trade Commission and the state of Arkansas sued the operators of a “blessing loom” investment program, alleging that it has operated as an illegal pyramid scheme that bilked tens of millions of dollars from thousands of consumers, and targeted African Americans and harmed people struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their joint complaint, the FTC and Arkansas charged that the operators of Blessings in No Time (“BINT”) have lured people into joining their program by falsely promising investment returns as high as 800 percent. The complaint alleges that some BINT members paid as much as $62,700 to participate. In reality, though, as in other pyramid schemes, the vast majority of participants have lost money, the complaint alleges.

“The COVID-19 pandemic attacked Americans’ health and their wallets,” said Daniel Kaufman, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “These scammers, who specifically targeted Black communities, used false promises of wealth to deceive consumers out of money at a time that Americans could least afford to lose it.”

The complaint seeks to permanently enjoin BINT’s illegal operation and asks the court to award redress for injured consumers. The complaint also seeks to impose civil penalties on the defendants under Arkansas state law.

The complaint names as defendants the operators of BINT, Texas-based BINT Operations LLC, and its two co-founders, LaShonda Moore and her husband Marlon Moore.

The Moores began promoting BINT as early June 2020, according to the complaint. Like most blessing looms, BINT allegedly has coordinated payments (called “blessings”) between members using playing boards with different levels. The complaint alleges that, in one version of the defendants’ scheme, BINT’s playing board had four levels with 15 spots. Members on the second level were tasked with recruiting new participants to join their playing board on the first level. Once a board had been filled with new recruits and those recruits had paid the individual at the center of the playing board, the individual in the middle of the original board would be removed. The board would then be split into two new boards, and all remaining members would move up one level toward the center of the board, where they would then receive payments from new recruits. The complaint alleges that this process would repeat indefinitely, as illustrated below in the FTC’s graphic:

Graphic: The Operation of BINT's Blessing Loom

The Operation of BINT's Blessing Looms

The operators of BINT have required a minimum of $1,400 to participate in the program, but told members that they could earn greater revenue by contributing more money and recruiting additional members, the complaint states.

The defendants have primarily targeted African American communities through their scheme, according to the complaint. The complaint states that BINT’s website describes BINT as  a new type of investing or fundraising that would permit members achieve financial freedom and to “do everything from pay[ing] for your own surgery to fulfill[ing] a student’s dream of attending college—and so much more.” In promoting BINT, the defendants have also described it as a community-oriented program where members would work together to help each other achieve financial success, according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges the defendants assured participants they would not lose money and could withdraw at any time and receive a full refund.

In reality, the complaint alleges, BINT is structured as a pyramid scheme. The supposed investment returns BINT has promised to participants were merely funds paid by other members. BINT’s pyramid structure requires that it grow perpetually and exponentially because, for every member who received the promised payout, eight additional members had to pay into the scheme. No matter how many members receive the promised payout, many more members would necessarily lose money, the complaint notes.

Moreover, the defendants tried to hide their illegal activity by telling participants not to use certain payment apps or payment processors. The complaint also alleges that the defendants have illegally prohibited participants from posting truthful, non-defamatory reviews and other information about BINT on social media or the Internet.

The complaint charges that the defendants’ deceptive practices violated the FTC Act, the Consumer Review Fairness Act, and Arkansas state consumer protection laws.

The Commission vote approving the complaint was 4-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

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. 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


Media Contact:
Office of Public Affairs
202-468-7684

Staff Contact:
Reid Tepfer
FTC Southwest Region
202-677-9483
Author: sfelder
Posted: June 17, 2021, 12:00 pm

Dr. Stephen Meis also will pay $103,420 to provide refunds to defrauded consumers

The medical director of California-based Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical, Inc., agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that he took part in deceptively advertising a $23,000 treatment plan as a scientifically proven way to treat COVID-19. Dr. Stephen Meis will be barred from making similar unsupported health claims in the future and will pay $103,420 to provide refunds to defrauded consumers.

"We rely on doctors to follow the scientific evidence when making claims about health products and conditions,” said Daniel Kaufman, Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Helping to spread false and unproven claims about treating COVID and other diseases is that much worse when done by those in positions of trust.”

According to the FTC’s July 2020 complaint, Golden Sunrise started marketing its Emergency D-Virus plan as a treatment for COVID-19 in March 2020. Advertising on billboards, websites, and social media, Golden Sunrise falsely claimed that the company’s supplements—ImunStem, Aktiffvate, and AnterFeerons—were “uniquely qualified to treat and modify the course of the Coronavirus epidemic in CHINA and other countries,” and that users could expect the “disappearance of viral symptoms within two to four days.”

The defendants also promoted and sold a range of dietary supplements as treatments for cancer and Parkinson’s disease, as well as many other serious health conditions and diseases. Some of the defendants’ treatments cost as much as $170,000 to $200,000. In reality, they were comprised mainly of various herbs and spices and the health claims were unsubstantiated, according to the FTC.

One ad for the company’s supplements cited “Stephen R. MEIS, M.D., Board Certified” saying, “With increased use of one of the supplements included in the Emergency D-Virus treatment plan, disappearance of viral symptoms is expected within two (2) to four (4) days,” and that the recommended dietary supplements “are available now and once they are started, they will help alleviate the people immediately [sic] with the acute illness of the Coronavirus.”

The proposed order settling the FTC’s complaint prohibits Dr. Meis from making health-related product misrepresentations in the future, requires him to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support any claims he makes, and prohibits him from misrepresenting the results of any tests, studies, or other research. It also bars him from falsely stating that a product has FDA approval when it does not. Finally, the order imposes a judgment of $103,420 against Dr. Meis, payable to the FTC, which can be used to provide refunds to defrauded consumers.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the proposed stipulated final order was 4-0. The proposed order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and has now been signed by the judge. Litigation continues against Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical, Inc.; Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical, Inc.; and Huu Tieu.

The FTC appreciates the assistance of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties with the investigation of 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:
Edward Hynes
FTC’s Southwest Region
214-979-9381
Author: elordan
Posted: June 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

As part of the Federal Trade Commission's systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides, the Commission announces a revised ten-year regulatory review schedule and scheduled initiation of the review of 16 CFR 437, the Business Opportunity Rule, in 2021.

The Business Opportunity Rule requires business opportunity sellers to give prospective buyers specific information to help them evaluate a business opportunity, thus ensuring that the prospective purchasers have the information they need in order to assess the risks of buying a work-at-home program or any other business opportunity.

The Commission vote approving the announcement of a revised regulatory review schedule and the scheduled initiation of the regulatory review of the Business Opportunity Rule was 4-0. Commissioner Rohit Chopra issued a statement.

The Commission is currently reviewing 23 of the 62 rules and guides within its jurisdiction. During 2020 and 2021, it completed reviews of 16 CFR 315, Contact Lens Rule; and 16 CFR 317, Prohibition of Energy Market Manipulation Rule. The Commission, in its discretion, may modify or reorder the schedule in the future to incorporate new rules, or to respond to external factors (such as changes in the law) or other considerations.   

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
202-340-1202

Staff Contact:
Christine Todaro
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(202) 326-3711
Author: sfelder
Posted: June 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

Amended complaint against RCG Advances and others alleges unauthorized withdrawals, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act violations

In a newly filed amended complaint, the Federal Trade Commission alleges that merchant cash advance provider RCG Advances and other defendants made multiple unauthorized withdrawals from small businesses’ banks, sometimes taking thousands of dollars more than the agreed repayment amount.

The amended complaint also alleges that RCG, formerly known as Richmond Capital Group, LLC and also doing business as Viceroy Capital Funding and Ram Capital Funding, violated the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s prohibition on using false or deceptive information to obtain a consumer’s bank account information.

In its agreements with consumers, RCG tells businesses that they can receive an upfront amount of cash in exchange for allowing RCG to make daily withdrawals from the businesses’ bank accounts up to a “Total Purchased Amount.” The amended complaint alleges that the defendants frequently continued to make the withdrawals well after the promised amount had been withdrawn, in one instance taking more than $75,000 without permission.

The amended complaint also alleges wanton and egregious behavior by defendants, including laughing at consumer requests for refunds from RCG’s unauthorized withdrawals from customer bank accounts; abusing the legal system to seize the business and personal assets of their customers; and threatening to break their customers’ jaws or falsely accusing them of child molestation during collection calls.

The FTC asks the court to assess civil penalties against the defendants, along with injunctive relief and requiring the defendants to turn over ill-gotten gains.

The case was originally filed in June 2020.

The Commission vote to refer the civil penalty complaint to the Department of Justice for filing was 4-0. The Department of Justice referred the complaint back to the Commission, which filed the amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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:

Author: bjames@ftc.gov
Posted: June 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final administrative consent order against Amazon, which has agreed to pay more than $61.7 million to settle charges that it failed to pay Amazon Flex drivers the full amount of tips they received from Amazon customers over a two and a half year period.

According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, announced in February 2021, the company regularly advertised that drivers participating in the Flex program would be paid $18-25 per hour for their work making deliveries to customers. The ads, along with numerous other documents provided to Flex drivers, also prominently featured statements such as: “You will receive 100% of the tips you earn while delivering with Amazon Flex.”

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Amazon also assured its customers that 100 percent of any tips they paid would go to the driver. According to the complaint, the company stopped the challenged conduct only after becoming aware of the FTC’s investigation in 2019.

The final order requires Amazon to pay $61,710,583, which represents the full amount that the company allegedly withheld from drivers and will be used by the FTC to compensate drivers. In addition, Amazon will be prohibited from misrepresenting any driver’s likely income or rate of pay, how much of their tips will be paid to them, as well as whether the amount paid by a customer is a tip.

Amazon also will be prohibited from making any changes to how a driver’s tips are used as compensation without first obtaining the driver’s express informed consent. The company will be subject to the Commission’s final order for twenty years and liable for civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation should it violate that order.

The Commission vote approving the final consent order was 4-0.

Additional information available on the refunds page. Amazon drivers can sign up for email updates on the status of the refund process.
 

The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of FTC refunds. In 2020, FTC actions led to more than $483 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but recently the United States Supreme Court ruled the FTC lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congress to restore the FTC’s ability to get money back for consumers.

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:
Lindsay Kryzak
Office of Public Affairs
202-677-0998

Staff Contacts:
Guy G. Ward
FTC Midwest Region
312-960-5612

Elizabeth C. Scott
FTC Midwest Region
312-960-5609
Author: bjames@ftc.gov
Posted: June 10, 2021, 12:00 pm

 

The FTC’s Blog on Privacy & Identity

Business Blog Posts

By Lesley Fair

Set a reminder now for Tuesday, July 27, 2021, to make sure you’re up on the latest research about privacy and data security. That’s the date of the FTC’s sixth annual PrivacyCon and you’re invited to participate virtually.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: July 20, 2021, 5:06 pm
By Lesley Fair

No one can top Waylon Jennings’ invitation to Luckenbach, Texas, where people can get “Back to the Basics of Love.” But we can offer the next best thing for business executives, advertising professionals, and attorneys: a virtual invitation to Dallas, Texas, on June 24, 2021, to get back to the basics of law.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 21, 2021, 5:55 pm
By Lesley Fair

We’ll leave it to the economists to crunch the employment numbers. We’re just happy to see more Help Wanted signs in the windows of Main Street retailers. That’s good news for Americans affected by pandemic-related layoffs. As companies are getting back to business and returning to an in-person workplace, the FTC has some tips for job seekers.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 17, 2021, 8:04 pm
By Lesley Fair

Call it a “blessing.” Call it a “loom.” In a case just filed in federal court, the FTC and the State of Arkansas use another phrase to describe what the operators of the Blessings in No Time investment program are up to. We call it a pyramid scheme.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 17, 2021, 1:05 pm
By Lesley Fair

It’s exciting to see so many “open” signs appearing in store windows across the country. But some companies making the transition to an in-person workplace may find themselves in a short-term cash flow crunch. Even before the pandemic, the FTC raised concerns about deceptive practices related to small business financing. With many companies working to regain their footing, the FTC has tips on protecting yourself when looking for financing.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 16, 2021, 4:10 pm
By Lesley Fair

You have to say this about scammers: They’re up on current events. As early as February 2020, con artists were already using the coronavirus as a hook for swindles and scams and the FTC was sounding an alert for consumers. It didn’t take long before scammers targeted businesses, too.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 15, 2021, 5:20 pm
By Lesley Fair

As many companies shift to an in-person workplace, you and your employees face the opportunities and challenges of the new new normal. Today is the first in a five-part Back to Business blog series to help ease the transition back to the office, including steps you can take to reduce the risk that COVID scammers, data thieves, and financial fraudsters will follow you there. One consideration for companies: assuring you’re in control of sensitive information.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 14, 2021, 6:24 pm
By Lesley Fair

As the fast-talking talent scout said in a hundred Hollywood classics, “I’m gonna put you in the movies!” MoviePass promised to put consumers in the movies – or at least in movie theaters – with its $9.95 per month “one movie per day” subscription plan.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 7, 2021, 6:42 pm
By Lesley Fair

Even for people who work on the most arcane frontiers of technology, there is a line of questioning that leaves them scratching their heads wondering where to begin. It’s when a colleague, friend, or family member asks “OK, Mr. or Ms. Tech Guru. I read a scary article about online privacy. What should I do to protect myself?” or “I just bought this nifty smart device. How can I use it safely?” The FTC has a new resource to help you answer those questions.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: June 4, 2021, 2:53 pm
By Lesley Fair

The FTC’s Green Lights & Red Flags virtual workshop for business is “on the road again,” so it’s only appropriate that we’re heading to Dallas on June 24, 2021.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: May 27, 2021, 6:28 pm

 


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