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Federal Trade Commission - Protecting America's Consumers

Settlement extends millions in loan forgiveness to additional consumers who paid for investment “training” programs

The funder and servicer of the payment plans used by consumers to pay for expensive and often ineffective investment “trainings” from Online Trading Academy (OTA) will be required to offer debt forgiveness to consumers under a proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Universal Guardian Acceptance, LLC (UGA) and Universal Account Servicing, LLC (UAS), have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they facilitated consumers’ payments to OTA, when they knew or should have known that OTA was deceiving consumers.

“These defendants helped Online Trading Academy run its investment training scheme for years, ignoring clear signs that they were profiting off the backs of defrauded consumers,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies that facilitate payments can’t turn a blind eye when their clients are defrauding consumers.”

In February 2020, the FTC brought a lawsuit alleging that OTA had deceived consumers with false and unsupported claims that purchasers of its investment training were likely to generate significant income. OTA charged consumers tens of thousands of dollars for its training and offered financing to enable consumers to pay OTA, in the form of short-term, high-interest retail installment contracts. UAS underwrote and serviced the contracts, and UGA provided funding for OTA’s operations by agreeing to purchase substantial quantities of the contracts in advance.

In its complaint against UGA and UAS, the FTC alleges that they facilitated OTA’s deceptive scheme by underwriting, funding, and servicing OTA’s retail installment contracts. The FTC alleges that the companies ignored red flags that OTA was engaged in deception, including consumer complaints, a high cancellation rate, and the fact that the vast majority of purchasers were not paying off their debt within the six month no-interest grace period included in the contracts.

The FTC settled with OTA in September 2020. As part of that settlement, OTA offered debt forgiveness to consumers who owed OTA money on their retail installment contracts.

Under the proposed settlement announced today, UGA is required to offer debt forgiveness to OTA purchasers whose debt is held by UGA. These consumers were not eligible for debt relief under FTC’s September 2020 settlement with OTA because their debt was not held by OTA. UGA is required to give these consumers notice of the offer of debt forgiveness and consumers will have 45 days to request forgiveness from UGA.

The proposed settlement also requires UGA and UAS to exercise adequate due diligence when screening potential clients, closely monitor clients that claim consumers can make money using their products or services, and to investigate consumer complaints.

The Commission vote approving the complaint and stipulated final order was 4-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

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

Staff Contacts:
Andrew Hudson
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2213

Suzanne Barth
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3317
Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

Report finds many ISPs use web browsing data and group consumers using sensitive characteristics such as race and sexual orientation

Many internet service providers (ISPs) collect and share far more data about their customers than many consumers may expect—including access to all of their Internet traffic and real-time location data—while failing to offer consumers meaningful choices about how this data can be used, according to an FTC staff report on ISPs’ data collection and use practices.

The staff report, which details the expanding scope and some troubling aspects of some ISP data collection practices, stems from  orders the FTC issued in 2019 using its authority under 6(b) of the FTC Act to six internet service providers, which make up about 98 percent of the mobile Internet market:

  • AT&T Mobility LLC;
  • Cellco Partnership, which does business as Verizon Wireless;
  • Charter Communications Operating LLC;
  • Comcast Cable Communications, which does business as Xfinity;
  • T-Mobile US Inc.; and
  • Google Fiber Inc.

The FTC also issued orders to three advertising entities affiliated with these ISPs: AT&T’s Appnexus Inc., rebranded as Xandr; Verizon’s Verizon Online LLC; and Oath Americas Inc., rebranded as Verizon Media. The FTC sought information on their data collection and use practices, as well as any tools provided to consumers to control these practices.  

As noted in the report, these companies have evolved into technology giants who offer not just internet services but also provide a range of other services including voice, content, smart devices, advertising, and analytics—which has increased the volume of information they are capable of collecting about their customers. The report identified several troubling data collection practices among several of the ISPs, including that they combine data across product lines; combine personal, app usage, and web browsing data to target ads; place consumers into sensitive categories such as by race and sexual orientation; and share real-time location data with third-parties.

At the same time, the report found the privacy protections many of the companies offer raised several concerns. Even though several of the ISPs promise not to sell consumers personal data, they allow it to be used, transferred, and monetized by others and hide disclosures about such practices in fine print of their privacy policies. For example, several news outlets noted that subscribers’ real-time location data shared with third-party customers was being accessed by car salesmen, property managers, bail bondsmen, bounty hunters, and others without reasonable protections or consumers’ knowledge and consent, according to the report.

Many of the ISPs also claim to offer consumers choices about how their data is used and allow them to access such data. The FTC found, however, that many of these companies often make it difficult for consumers to exercise such choices and sometimes even nudge them to share even more information. In addition, while several of the ISPs promise to only keep the data for as long as needed for business purposes, the definition of what constitutes a “business purpose” varies widely among the companies.

The report concludes that many of the ISPs’ data collection and use practices mirror problems identified in other industries and underscore the importance of restricting data collection and use.

The Commission voted 4-0 to approve and issue the report. Staff presented findings from the report at today’s open virtual Commission meeting.  Chair Lina M. Khan issued a separate statement on the report.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Staff Contact:
Andrea Arias
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2715
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 21, 2021, 12:00 pm

84,847 consumers nationwide will receive checks

The Federal Trade Commission is sending refund payments totaling more than $1.1 million to consumers who bought three supplements deceptively marketed as treatments for pain and other health conditions related to aging.

According to an FTC complaint filed in April 2020, the marketers of Neurocet, Regenify, and Resetigen-D deceptively promoted their products using false or unsubstantiated claims that the supplements could stop pain and treat age-related ailments. The pitches were made primarily through direct mail campaigns.

The final order settling the FTC’s complaint bars the defendants—five related companies called Mile High Madison Group, Inc., Nordic Clinical, Inc., Encore Plus Solutions, Inc., Le Groupe Mile High Madison, Inc., and Clinique Nordique, Inc. and their principals, Vittorio DiCriscio and Vito Proietti—from making any claims about the health benefits of their products unless they are true and supported by scientific evidence. It also requires them to pay for the consumer refunds announced today.

Nearly 85,000 people are receiving payments. Consumers who have questions about their refunds should call Rust Consulting Inc., the administrator for this case, at 1-866-216-0252.

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 the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: mkatz
Posted: October 20, 2021, 12:00 pm

Report notes jump in online shopping fraud reports since start of COVID-19 pandemic

The Federal Trade Commission has issued its latest report to Congress on protecting older adults, which highlights updated findings from the Commission’s fraud reports showing trends in how older adults report being affected by fraud.

The report, Protecting Older Consumers, 2020-2021, A Report of the Federal Trade Commission, also includes information on the FTC’s efforts to protect older consumers through law enforcement actions and outreach and education programs. This year’s report calls particular attention to the Commission’s work to combat scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports of online shopping fraud increased sharply among adults aged 60 and higher in the second quarter of 2020 as online marketers failed to deliver masks and other scarce items needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most frequent type of fraud reported by older adults was online shopping scams. Overall, reports of losses to online shopping fraud by older adults more than doubled in 2020, and the numbers continued to be far higher than pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2021.

As in prior years, the analysis of fraud reports received by the FTC in 2020 showed that adults aged 60 and higher are substantially less likely to report losing money to fraud than adults aged 20-59. When they do report losing money, though, they tend to report losing substantially more than younger adults. Consumers 80 and older reported losing a median of $1,300 to fraud, while those in their seventies reported a median loss of $650, and those in their sixties reported a median loss of $449.

The analysis included in the report to Congress also found that adults older than 60 were nearly five times as likely as adults aged 20 to 59 to report losing money to a tech support scam. Older adults were nearly three times more likely to report a loss to a prize, lottery or sweepstakes scam, and more than twice as likely to report losing money to a friend or family impersonator scam.

In addition, the report notes that older adults reported losing about $139 million to romance scams – the highest total reported loss of any scam category, and a sharp increase from $84 million in 2019.

The report also focuses on key enforcement actions the FTC has taken to protect older consumers, including against investment schemes, a credit card stacking operation, an indoor TV antenna scam, and numerous cases against scammers making false health claims, including many related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report highlights a number of ongoing law enforcement partnerships in which the FTC works with other federal agencies, along with state and local authorities, to take actions to protect older consumers.

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

The Commission vote authorizing the report to Congress was 4-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

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

Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 18, 2021, 12:00 pm

Operators allegedly deceived families of incarcerated individuals with false claims of unlimited minutes for prison and jail calls

The Federal Trade Commission has halted a scheme that deceived friends and family of incarcerated people with false promises of unlimited minutes for inmate calling plans that, in reality, did not provide a single minute of talk time. As part of a settlement with the FTC, the scheme’s operators are prohibited from making deceptive claims and consumers must be notified about the unlawful conduct.

In its first case involving inmate calling plans, the FTC alleged that the operators of the scheme preyed on inmates’ families and friends who rely on phone calls to stay in touch with their incarcerated loved ones—particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person visitations were suspended. 

In its complaint filed in October 2020, the FTC alleged that Marc and Courtney Grisham and their companies Disruption Theory LLC and Emergent Technologies LLC, doing business as inmatecall.com and inmatecallsolutions.com, advertised and marketed the unlimited minutes calling plans that they never provided. They also posed as companies authorized to provide calling services to prisons and jails to bolster the credibility of their false claim.

As part of a settlement with the FTC, Marc Grisham is prohibited from making similar claims in the future and must notify past and future customers about his unlawful conduct. Marc Grisham must post a notice on any current and future consumer-facing websites notifying customers that he was sued for false advertising, and that his inmate calling plans did not eliminate required per-minute call charges or replace approved call providers.

A federal court also issued a default judgment against Courtney Grisham, Disruption Theory, and Emergent Technologies on September 1, 2021, which permanently bans them from offering inmate calling services.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The order was approved by a federal judge on October 14, 2021.

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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Staff Contact:
Diana Chang
Western Region, San Francisco
415-848-5100
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 15, 2021, 12:00 pm

Report shows disproportionate impact of some scams and consumer problems on communities of color, highlights agency responses

New research in a staff report from the Federal Trade Commission shows a number of key differences in the way that fraud and other consumer problems affect communities of color, from the types of problems reported to the methods used to pay scammers.

The new report, “Serving Communities of Color,” highlights the FTC’s law enforcement and outreach work addressing consumer protection issues facing these communities in addition to the newly published research.

Communities of Color Report

“Our mission is to protect every American consumer from fraud and other consumer problems, and to do so, it is vital that we build our understanding of how communities of color are affected by these issues,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While we’ve taken strong steps to fight the issues that disproportionately affect people in these communities, there is more work to do, and we’re committed to doing it.”

One of the studies in the report examines differences in reports received by the FTC from consumers who live in majority Black and Latino communities compared to those who live in majority White communities.

It found that when people reported losing money, those living in majority Black and Latino communities more often reported paying in ways that have few, if any, fraud protections ― for example, cash, cryptocurrency, money orders, and debit cards. Those living in majority White communities, by contrast, filed the largest share of their reports about paying with credit cards, which offer more robust fraud protection.

The research also found that there were notable differences in the types of problems people living in majority Black and Latino communities reported to the FTC, with larger shares of reports about issues with car buying, banks and lenders, credit issues, and debt collection than were found in majority White communities.

Another study in the report analyzed information gleaned from a number of FTC cases, which showed that in cases involving payday loan applications, student debt relief programs, and certain business opportunities, the largest number of affected consumers resided in predominantly Black communities.

In addition to the new research, the report also provides a summary of more than 25 cases brought by the FTC in the last five years where the unlawful conduct either targeted or disproportionately affected communities of color. The report also shared information about the agency’s ongoing outreach program to communities of color, including events, local and national partnerships and an array of videos and publications designed to provide information that is relevant and timely.

The report follows on a 2016 report to Congress, “Combating Fraud in African-American and Latino Communities: The FTC’s Comprehensive Strategic Plan.”

The Commission vote authorizing staff to issue the new report was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Chopra recorded as not participating.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

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

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

Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 15, 2021, 12:00 pm

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina M. Khan issued a joint statement with Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on an amicus brief the two agencies and the North Carolina Department of Justice filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit urging the court to overturn a lower court decision in Henderson v. The Source for Public Data, L.P.

In their statement, Chair Khan and Director Chopra argued that the lower court’s decision in Henderson would undermine the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by granting immunity to consumer reporting agencies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The Commission voted 4-0 to file the amicus brief.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

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

The following item will be on the tentative agenda for the October 21 Commission meeting:

Business Before the Commission

Presentation on the Privacy Practices of Six Major Internet Service Providers: Staff will present some findings from evidence gathered pursuant to the 2019 6(b) orders issued to six Internet service providers and three of their advertising affiliates. The public release of the report is subject to commission vote.

After the Commission meeting has concluded, 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 October 21 event. Each commenter will be allowed to speak for no more than two minutes. Anyone who cannot participate during the event may submit written comments or a link to a prerecorded video through a webform.  Speaker registration and comment submission will be available through Monday, October 18, 2021, 8pm 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 event will be available beginning on October 21, 2021 at 9 am ET via FTC.gov. 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: bacree
Posted: October 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

Notice of Penalty Offenses can trigger steep penalties for recipients who use endorsements to deceive consumers

The Federal Trade Commission is blanketing industry with a clear message that, if they use endorsements to deceive consumers, the FTC will be ready to hold them responsible with every tool at its disposal.

The rise of social media has blurred the line between authentic content and advertising, leading to an explosion in deceptive endorsements across the marketplace. Fake online reviews and other deceptive endorsements often tout products throughout the online world. Consequently, the FTC is now using its Penalty Offense Authority to remind advertisers of the law and deter them from breaking it. By sending a Notice of Penalty Offenses to more than 700 companies, the agency is placing them on notice they could incur significant civil penalties—up to $43,792 per violation—if they use endorsements in ways that run counter to prior FTC administrative cases.

“Fake reviews and other forms of deceptive endorsements cheat consumers and undercut honest businesses,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Advertisers will pay a price if they engage in these deceptive practices.”

The Notice of Penalty Offenses allows the agency to seek civil penalties against a company that engages in conduct that it knows has been found unlawful in a previous FTC administrative order, other than a consent order.

The Notice sent to the companies outlines a number of practices that the FTC determined to be unfair or deceptive in prior administrative cases. These include, but are not limited to: falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party; misrepresenting whether an endorser is an actual, current, or  recent user; using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims; failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser; and misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents consumers’ typical or ordinary experience.

Companies receiving the notice represent an array of large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, top consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies. A full list of the businesses receiving the Notice from the FTC is available on the FTC’s website. A recipient’s presence on this list does not in any way suggest that it has engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct.

In addition to the Notice, the FTC has created multiple resources for business to ensure that they are following the law when using endorsements to advertise their products and services, which can be found on the FTC’s website.

The Commission vote to authorize the Notice and its distribution was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

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

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

Staff Contacts:
Michael Ostheimer
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2699

Michael Atleson
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2962
Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 13, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending 31,075 checks to people who were deceived by Elite IT Partners Inc. into paying for costly and unnecessary computer repair services.

In a complaint filed 2019, the FTC alleged that Elite IT used Internet ads to target consumers looking for help recovering their email passwords. Consumers who responded to Elite’s ads were encouraged to provide their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Elite’s telemarketers then reached out to consumers—often pretending to be associated with well-known companies like Microsoft and Yahoo!—and pressured consumers to provide access to their computers. The telemarketers ran bogus “diagnostic” tests, claimed consumers’ computers and personal information were in imminent danger, and convinced many consumers to pay large sums for immediate cleaning of their computers, antivirus software, and ongoing technical support services. The FTC alleged that the scheme affected tens of thousands of consumers. Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumers

The FTC is using the money it recovered from Elite IT and its President and CEO, James Martinos, as part of a settlement announced in December 2019 to provide refunds totaling nearly $300,000. People who receive refund 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, Analytics, at 1-866-974-1467. 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 the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Analytics
Refund Administrator
1-866-974-1467

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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 12, 2021, 12:00 pm

Mattress company will pay $753,000 and cease Made in USA fraud

Resident Home LLC and owner Ran Reske, will pay $753,000 to settle FTC charges that they made false, misleading, or unsupported advertising claims that their imported DreamCloud mattresses were made from 100% USA-made materials.

Resident Home LLC is the parent of Nectar Brand LLC (better known as Nectar Sleep), a company that had previously agreed to a 2018 FTC administrative order resolving allegations that it falsely advertised imported mattresses as “Assembled in USA.” Following the 2018 order, Reske, under penalty of perjury, stated that Resident had never made U.S.-origin claims about its DreamCloud mattress. This proved to be untrue. The proposed order entered into today incorporates the terms of the 2018 order, orders the payment of $753,000, and expands the application of the 2018 order to all the entities under the control of Reske.

“Baseless claims that products are made in the USA hurt not only consumers but also honest businesses that build their products here,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Unfortunately, we see too many repeat offenders like Resident Home, but thanks to the FTC’s recently finalized Made in USA Labeling Rule, companies that abuse these labels will face civil penalties in addition to other relief. We will not hesitate to seek strong penalties against Made in USA fraud.”

In the company’s promotional material, Resident Home LLC and Reske claimed that their DreamCloud mattresses were “proudly made with 100 percent USA-made premium quality materials.” But, according to the complaint, these repeat claims were false or misleading, and violated the FTC Act. The FTC says all DreamCloud mattresses are finished overseas and, in some cases, are wholly imported or use significant imported materials.

Under the terms of the proposed order, Resident Home LLC and Reske are prohibited from making several claims that deceive consumers and harm law-abiding businesses whose sales were siphoned because of this behavior. The order specifically covers unqualified U.S.-origin claims (claims made with no limitations) for any product – unless they can show that: the product’s final assembly, final processing, and all significant processing takes place in the United States; and all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.

The order also governs any qualified Made in USA claims (claims that include explanatory information). For qualified claims, Resident Home LLC and Reske must include a clear disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients, components, or processing. If they want to say a product is assembled in the United States, they must ensure that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, that its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and that United States assembly operations are substantial. Finally, the order requires Resident Home LLC and Reske to notify affected consumers about the FTC’s order and submit compliance reports.

The FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims offers guidance on making Made in USA claims. The Made in USA Labeling Rule went into effect on August 13, 2021. Companies that violate the Rule from that date forward may be subject to civil penalties.

The Commission vote to issue the complaint and accept the proposed consent order for public comment was 3-2, with the majority issuing a statement, Commissioner Rohit Chopra issuing a concurring statement, and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson issuing a joint dissenting statement. The FTC will publish a description of it in the Federal Register. Instructions for filing comments appear in the published notice. Comments must be received within 30 days of publication in the Federal Register. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.          

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $43,792.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Staff Contact:
Julia Solomon Ensor
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2377
Author: bjames@ftc.gov
Posted: October 8, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is returning $772,512 to consumers who were targeted by a debt collector who unlawfully brokered and collected fake debts that the consumers did not owe.

According to the complaint filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General, Hylan Asset Management, LLC, and its owners, Andrew Shaevel and Jon E. Purizhansky, bought, placed for collection, and sold lists of phantom debts, including debts that were fake or imposed on consumers without their knowledge or consent.

Hylan referred the fake debts to several collection agencies, including Worldwide Processing Group, LLC, which then illegally collected on them. Hylan continued to buy the portfolios and distribute them to third parties for collection even though it was repeatedly notified that consumers did not owe many of the debts, the FTC alleged.

The defendants agreed to settle the case in 2019. As part of the settlement, they agreed to be banned permanently from the debt collection industry and surrendered funds to the FTC. The agency is using that money to send checks averaging $539 to 1,432 consumers.

People who receive checks should deposit or cash them within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks should call the refund administrator, JND Legal Administration at 1-888-691-3554. 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 the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the FTC lacks authority under Section 13(b) to seek monetary relief in federal court going forward. The Commission has urged Congressto 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Refund Administrator
888-691-3554

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

Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 7, 2021, 12:00 pm

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a Federal Register notice (FRN) announcing final amendments to the agency’s Energy Labeling Rule (Rule). The amendments update the comparability ranges and sample labels for central air conditioning (AC) units.

The Rule, issued in 1979 under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, requires energy labeling for major home appliances and other consumer products to help consumers compare the energy usage and costs of competing models. The Rule requires manufacturers to attach yellow EnergyGuide labels to many of the products it covers and prohibits retailers from removing or altering these labels.

The Commission vote authorizing publication of the Federal Register notice announcing the updated comparability ranges and sample labels for central AC units was 4-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson voting no and issuing a separate statement.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Hampton Newsome
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2889

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

Author: mkatz
Posted: October 6, 2021, 12:00 pm

Commission resurrects use of legal tool to trigger steep penalties against lawbreaking colleges

The Federal Trade Commission put 70 for-profit higher education institutions on notice that the agency is cracking down on any false promises they make about their graduates’ job and earnings prospects and other outcomes and will hit violators with significant financial penalties.

The Commission is resurrecting its Penalty Offense Authority, found in Section 5 of the FTC Act, to ensure that bad actors pay a price when they break the law. By sending a Notice of Penalty Offenses to the institutions, which represent the largest for-profit colleges and vocational schools across the country, the companies operating these colleges will be on notice that they could incur significant sanctions for engaging in certain unlawful practices. The notice outlines a number of practices that the FTC has previously found to be unfair or deceptive, and notes that these practices could lead to civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.

“For too long, unscrupulous for-profit schools have preyed on students with impunity, facing no penalties when they defraud their students and drive them into debt,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “The FTC is resurrecting a dormant authority to deter wrongdoing and hold accountable bad actors who abuse students and taxpayers. Working closely with our state and federal partners, we’ll be monitoring this market carefully.”

This broad-based initiative to deter for-profit college fraud marks the agency’s first use of its Penalty Offense Authority to protect students and their families. The Notice of Penalty Offenses allows the agency to seek civil penalties against a company that engages in conduct that it knows has been found unlawful in a previous FTC administrative order, other than a consent order.

Many of the practices outlined in the Notice relate to claims made by institutions about the career outcomes of their graduates, including whether a particular career field is in demand, the percentage of graduates who get jobs in their chosen field, whether the institution can help a graduate get a job, the amount of money a graduate can expect to earn and other related practices. Complaints to the FTC around education-related issues surged roughly 70 percent between 2018 and 2020, and the Commission is committed to rooting out practices that harm students and their families.

The Notice cites a number of administrative cases brought by the FTC against for-profit institutions in which the Commission found practices like those outlined in the Notice unlawful.

A full list of the institutions that received the Notice from the FTC is available on the FTC’s website.  A school’s presence on this list does not reflect any assessment as to whether they have engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct.

The Commission vote to authorize the Notice and its distribution was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Staff Contact:
Wendy Miller
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2571
Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 6, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a settlement with the operators of MoviePass over allegations they took steps to block subscribers from using the service as advertised, while also failing to secure subscribers’ personal data.

In a complaint and proposed settlement first announced in June 2021, the FTC alleged that MoviePass Inc.—along with CEO Mitchell Lowe, MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, Inc., and its CEO Theodore Farnsworth —deceptively marketed its “one movie per day” service, then deployed deceptive tactics aimed at preventing subscribers from using the service as advertised —actions the FTC alleged violated both the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act. The FTC also alleged MoviePass’s operators left a database containing large amounts of subscribers’ personal information unencrypted and exposed, leading to unauthorized access.

Under the settlement, MoviePass, Inc., Helios, and their principals will be barred from misrepresenting their business and data security practices. In addition, any businesses controlled by MoviePass, Helios, or Lowe must implement comprehensive information security programs. MoviePass’s operators also are required to notify the FTC of any future data breaches, and a senior executive must certify annually that MoviePass’s operators are complying with the data security requirements of the settlement. If they violate the terms of the order, they could face monetary penalties of up to $43,792 per violation, per day.

After receiving two comments, the Commission voted 4-1 to give final approval to the complaint and order and send responses to the commenters. Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips voted no.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: jhenderson2
Posted: October 5, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is returning more than $1.1 million to consumers who paid for an allegedly bogus money-making opportunity that called itself “8 Figure Dream Lifestyle.”


The FTC sued 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle LLC and nine co-defendants in 2019 as part of a crackdown on robocallers across the country. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the defendants used a combination of illegal robocalls, live telephone calls, text messaging, internet ads, emails, social media, and live events to market and sell consumers fraudulent money-making opportunities.

According to the FTC’s lawsuit, the defendants consistently made false or unsubstantiated claims in their marketing about how much consumers could earn using their programs. In reality, the lawsuit says, consumers who bought the programs rarely earned substantial income, typically lost their entire investment, and often incurred significant loans and credit card debt—tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases.

Under two stipulated court orders, the defendants agreed to settle the FTC charges last year. As a result, they are banned from selling money-making or business coaching programs, and nine of the defendants are banned from using robocalls for most purposes, including marketing or advertising. In addition, three defendants are banned from selling any investment opportunities. The defendants also surrendered funds to the FTC, which the agency is using to provide these refund payments to consumers.

Payments averaging $460 will be sent to 2,506 consumers, including 1,498 checks and 1,008 PayPal payments. People who receive checks should deposit or cash them within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks or the refund program can call JND Legal Administration at 1-888-691-3551. 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 the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that 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 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
JND Legal Administration
Refund Administrator
888-691-3551

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

Author: jmayfield
Posted: October 4, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending 8,843 checks totaling more than $2 million to consumers who were harmed by a company that charged them money for “funding” to pay for expensive and often ineffective training programs, but instead opened multiple credit card accounts in their names.

Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumersAccording to the FTC’s complaint, Seed Consulting, LLC (which also operated under the names Seed Capital and Foundation Funding) was pitched by training companies as a way to get “funding” to people who wanted to start a business or become a real estate investor. The complaint alleged that Seed didn’t actually provide any funds to consumers but instead charged them $3,000 or more to apply for numerous credit cards on their behalf, with total credit lines of more than $50,000, a practice known as “credit card stacking.”

To obtain these credit lines, the suit alleges, Seed often inflated consumers’ annual incomes on credit card applications by approximately $100,000, telling consumers they could expect to make that much when they completed their training programs. Often, the consumers used the credit cards Seed obtained for them to pay for expensive programs sold by the training companies.

Seed agreed to settle the FTC’s case in January 2021. Each check recipient will receive $232.12.

People who receive checks should deposit or cash them within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks, as well as anyone who paid Seed Consulting for business training and real estate investment programs, should call the refund administrator, JND Legal Administration at 1-833-823-0045. 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
JND Legal Administration
Refund Administrator
833-823-0045

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

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 29, 2021, 12:00 pm

The owner and operator of Inmate Magazine Service, a company that scammed prisoners and their families by charging them for magazine subscriptions that either showed up late or not at all, will be permanently banned from selling or marketing magazine subscriptions.

Under the terms of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Office of Attorney General, Roy Snowden, who owned and operated a number of businesses that operated as Inmate Magazine Service, will also be required to surrender the contents of multiple bank accounts.

The FTC and Florida’s complaint against Snowden and his companies alleged that they marketed magazine subscriptions to consumers serving prison sentences, as well as their families, offering to send the magazines to the prisoners while they were incarcerated and promising the magazines would arrive within 120 days.

In many cases, the magazines never arrived or were delivered far later than promised, with no notification to the consumers about delayed shipment or the chance to cancel their orders as required by the FTC’s Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. The complaint also alleged that consumers were almost never able to contact the company to request refunds or status updates on orders.

“The FTC is committed to halting consumer abuses against incarcerated individuals and their families,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Like all Americans, incarcerated individuals and their families deserve to get what they paid for, and get it when it was promised.”

The settlement includes a monetary judgment of $2.2 million, which is partially suspended based on an inability to pay, with Snowden required to turn over the contents of nine different bank accounts used for the scheme. Should Snowden be found to have misrepresented his financial status, the full amount of the judgment would immediately become payable.

In addition, the settlement prohibits Snowden from any further violations of the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 5-0. The FTC and Florida filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

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

Staff Contact:
Margaret Burgess
FTC Southeast Region
404-656-1353
Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 28, 2021, 12:00 pm

Holly Vedova will serve as Director of Bureau of Competition; Samuel A.A. Levine will serve as Director of Bureau of Consumer Protection

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina M. Khan announced that she has appointed Holly Vedova as Director of the agency’s Bureau of Competition and Samuel A.A. Levine as Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Ms. Vedova and Mr. Levine have been serving in their roles in an acting capacity since June of this year.

“Already in their roles as Acting Directors of the Bureau of Competition and Bureau of Consumer Protection, Holly Vedova and Sam Levine have taken important steps to ensure the FTC is working vigorously on behalf of the people we serve,” said Chair Khan. “Now as permanent directors of the FTC’s enforcement bureaus, their mission will be to guide this agency as we work to safeguard fair competition and check unfair or deceptive practices. I look forward to continuing our work together.”

Vedova joined the FTC in 1990 and served most recently as an attorney advisor to Commissioner Rohit Chopra. She has been an attorney advisor to four other FTC commissioners, and also served as counsel to the Director of the Bureau of Competition. Prior to joining Commissioner Chopra’s office, Vedova was a staff attorney in the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Mergers III Division, where she investigated mergers in various industries. She also spent two years in private practice as in-house antitrust counsel to a large pharmaceutical corporation. Vedova holds a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law and a B.A. from Earlham College.

Levine moves to lead the Bureau of Consumer Protection following work first in the FTC’s Midwest Regional office and then as an attorney advisor to Commissioner Rohit Chopra in the Washington, DC office. Before joining the FTC, Levine worked for the Illinois Attorney General, where he prosecuted predatory for-profit colleges and participated in rulemaking to expand income-driven repayment options for student borrowers. Levine also clerked with The Honorable Milton I. Shadur in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. Levine received the 2012 Gary Bellow Public Service Award in recognition of his commitment to social justice.

The Commission votes approving the appointments of Vedova and Levine were 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: mkatz
Posted: September 28, 2021, 12:00 pm

Defendants posed as police, attorneys to threaten consumers over fake debts

An Atlanta-based debt collection company and its owners will be permanently banned from the debt collection industry under the terms of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

In its complaint against Critical Resolution Mediation, LLC, along with Brian Charles McKenzie and Tracy Dottrice Warren, the FTC alleged that the defendants and their agents threatened consumers with arrest and imprisonment and tried to collect debts that consumers did not actually owe.

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

In addition to banning all of the defendants from the debt collection industry, the settlement also prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting whether they are attorneys or affiliated with a law firm or whether a consumer owes a debt of any kind. They are also prohibited from making any misleading claims while selling a product or service.

The settlement also requires the defendants to destroy all consumer information they have within 30 days and prevents them from profiting in any way from that information.

The defendants are required to pay more than $266,000 to the Commission as part of the settlement. The total monetary judgment of more than $3 million is partially suspended upon that payment due to the defendants’ inability to pay. If the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, then the full amount of the judgment will be immediately due.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated permanent injunction and monetary judgment was 5-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:

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

Staff Contact:
Hans Clausen
FTC Southeast Region
404-656-1361
Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 27, 2021, 12:00 pm

Bad actors who prey on older Americans should be stopped in their tracks, and today, the Federal Trade Commission is testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging on our work to protect older adults and ensure that these predators face consequences.

Testifying on behalf of the Commission, the Director of the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices, Lois C. Greisman, said that during 2020 older consumers filed 334,411 fraud reports in the Consumer Sentinel database, with reported losses of more than $600 million. Because the vast majority of frauds are not reported to the government, these numbers represent only a fraction of the older adults harmed by fraud.

Romance scams; prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams; and business impersonator scams caused the highest aggregate reported losses to older adults, according to the testimony. Older adults submitted over 26,518 fraud reports related to COVID-19 in 2020 with $104 million in reported losses.

The testimony reiterated the FTC’s call to restore its ability to recover money from those that violate the law, which it has used in the past to provide refunds to people harmed by deceptive, unfair, or anticompetitive conduct. A Supreme Court decision earlier this year, in the case AMG Capital Management LLC v. FTC, has impeded the Commission’s ability obtain monetary relief from violators. The testimony noted that restoring the ability to obtain monetary relief is critical to fully protect older Americans.

The FTC has brought actions halting a variety of scams, including those identified through the agency’s data analysis as scams harming older adults, such as impersonation and romance scams, the testimony notes. In the past year the FTC brought at least thirteen new law enforcement actions that had a notable impact on older adults.

Through the years the Commission also has sued providers who facilitate or play a role in such schemes, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) providers that facilitate illegal calls and wire transfer providers, according to the testimony.

The FTC also conducts an ongoing fraud prevention education campaign for older adults called Pass It On, which supplies them with resources to read and pass on to family and friends, the testimony notes. Since the campaign began in 2014, the agency has distributed 15.6 million Pass It On items, including more than 920,000 items in Fiscal Year 2021. To share its consumer education messages and inform the public, the agency collaborates with many organizations across the country.

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

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: jwolf
Posted: September 23, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending refund checks totaling nearly $5 million to people who lost money to a cramming scheme that added charges to their home phone bills without their permission.

The refunds stem from money the FTC collected from a group of defendants who admitted that they violated a 1999 FTC settlement order that prohibited them from unauthorized billing. For years, the defendants, Billing Services Group (BSG), operated as a phone billing aggregator, passing charges from third parties to telephone companies so that those charges could be placed on consumers’ landline telephone bills. The defendants admitted that they did not vet the charges before processing them and did not investigate consumer complaints about unauthorized charges.

Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumersThe FTC will be sending 86,752 checks averaging about $56 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, Epiq, at 800-591-4238. 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 file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Epiq
Refund Administrator
1-800-591-4238

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

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

Two individuals who worked with Florida-based Grand Bahama Cruise Line LLC (GBCL) and others in making millions of illegal robocalls to consumers settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint and are permanently banned from making telemarketing robocalls.

The defendants, Johnathan Blake Curtis and Anthony DiGiacomo, who controlled four corporations involved in the massive operation, also will each pay a $50,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury. The proposed order settling the FTC’s complaint resolves the agency’s charges against the final group of GBCL defendants.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants involved in the GBCL operation made or facilitated millions of illegal calls to consumers nationwide, pitching free cruise vacations between Florida and the Bahamas. Starting in 2013, the defendants operated their own in-house call center, employing telemarketers to call consumers.

The FTC alleged that, through 2017, the GBCL operation also hired outside call centers, including several other defendants, which marketed the cruise vacation packages. GBCL’s telemarketing operation allegedly bought call lists from lead generators that conducted illegal survey robocalls to identify potential customers.

Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about Do Not Call robocall complaintsIn addition to delivering millions of illegal robocalls through 2018, the defendants failed to scrub their lists against the agency’s Do Not Call (DNC) Registry, and called phone numbers on the Registry, the FTC alleged. The defendants also illegally called consumers who asked not to be called, and transmitted false caller ID information, in violation of the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).

The proposed settlement order announced today resolves the FTC’s charges against the remaining defendants in this case: 1) Johnathan Blake Curtis; 2) Anthony DiGiacomo; 3) Grand Bahama Cruise Line, LLC; 4) Ultimate Vacation Group, also doing business as (d/b/a) Royal Bahamas Cruise Line, LLC; 5) Tropical Accommodations, LLC, also d/b/a Grand Celebration Cruise Line; 6) VSC, LLC; and 7) Florida V.S.C. Inc.

Under the proposed order, the defendants are permanently banned from engaging in, or assisting others in engaging in, making robocalls to consumers. The order also bars them from: abusive telemarketing, including calling phone numbers on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (unless they have previously obtained express consent in writing from a consumer to call them or met other specific conditions), blocking or misrepresenting Caller ID information, and violating the TSR.

Finally, the order imposes a $6.4 million civil penalty jointly and severally against the individual and corporate defendants, which will be partially suspended once Curtis and DiGiacomo both pay $50,000 to the U.S. Treasury.

The Commission vote approving the complaint and proposed final order was 5-0. The FTC filed the complaint and proposed orders in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. In January 2020, the FTC announced that four other defendants in this case, Christopher A. Cotroneo, call center Cabb Group, LLC, and Christina and Robert J. Peterson II, agreed to orders settling the Commission’s claims against them.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Staff Contact:
Christopher E. Brown
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2825
Author: mkatz
Posted: September 20, 2021, 12:00 pm

Policy statement affirms that covered companies that hold fertility, heart health, glucose levels and other health data must notify consumers in the event of a breach

The Federal Trade Commission today issued a policy statement affirming that health apps and connected devices that collect or use consumers’ health information must comply with the Health Breach Notification Rule, which requires that they notify consumers and others when their health data is breached.

In a policy statement adopted during an open meeting, the Commission noted that health apps, which can track everything from glucose levels for those with diabetes to heart health to fertility to sleep, increasingly collect sensitive and personal data from consumers These apps have a responsibility to ensure they secure the data they collect, which includes preventing unauthorized access to such information.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress included specific provisions to strengthen privacy and security protections for web-based businesses. The law directed the FTC to ensure that companies contact customers in the event of a security breach. Shortly after, the FTC issued the Health Breach Notification Rule, which requires vendors of personal health records and related entities to notify consumers, the FTC, and, in some cases, the media when that data is disclosed or acquired without the consumers’ authorization. Over a decade later, health apps and other connected devices that collect personal health data are not only mainstream—and have increased in use during the pandemic—but are targets ripe for scammers and other cyber hacks. Yet, there are still too few privacy protections for these apps.

“While this Rule imposes some measure of accountability on tech firms that abuse our personal information, a more fundamental problem is the commodification of sensitive health information, where companies can use this data to feed behavioral ads or power user analytics,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “Given the growing prevalence of surveillance-based advertising, the Commission should be scrutinizing what data is being collected in the first place and whether particular types of business models create incentives that necessarily place users at risk.”

The Rule ensures that entities not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) face accountability when consumers’ sensitive health information is breached.

The Commission policy statement notes that apps and connected devices such as wearable fitness tracking devices that collect consumers’ health information are covered by the Health Breach Notification Rule if they can draw data from multiple sources, and are not covered by a similar rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, a health app would be covered under the FTC’s rule if it collects health information from a consumer and has the technical capacity to draw information through an API that enables synching with a consumer’s fitness tracker. Companies that fail to comply with the rule could be subject to monetary penalties of up to $43,792 per violation per day.

The Commission voted 3-2 to approve the policy statement during the open virtual meeting. Chair Khan and Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued separate statements. Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson both voted no and each issued dissenting statements.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Staff Contacts:
Elisa Jillson
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3001

Ryan Mehm
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Ryan Mehm
Author: jhenderson2
Posted: September 15, 2021, 12:00 pm

2020 guidance withdrawn to prevent industry and judicial reliance on unsound economic theories; FTC to work with DOJ to update merger guidance

The Federal Trade Commission voted to withdraw its approval of the Vertical Merger Guidelines, issued jointly with the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the FTC’s Vertical Merger Commentary. The guidance documents, which were published in 2020, include unsound economic theories that are unsupported by the law or market realities. The FTC is withdrawing its approval in order to prevent industry or judicial reliance on a flawed approach. In voting to withdraw, the FTC reaffirmed its commitment to working closely with the DOJ to review and update the agencies’ merger guidance.

The withdrawn Vertical Merger Guidelines set out analytical techniques and enforcement policies for non-horizontal mergers, while the associated commentary had summarized a selection of prior investigations that largely utilized that framework. The guidelines noted several ways vertical mergers can harm competition, which the statement by the FTC majority recognizes provided valuable analysis.

The statement by the FTC majority, however, notes that the 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines had improperly contravened the Clayton Act’s language with its approach to efficiencies, which are not recognized by the statute as a defense to an unlawful merger. The majority statement explains that the guidelines adopted a particularly flawed economic theory regarding purported pro-competitive benefits of mergers, despite having no basis of support in the law or market reality. The majority noted that because the Vertical Merger Guidelines were adopted in 2020, they had yet to have a significant impact and that acting swiftly was paramount to preventing judicial reliance on this flawed discussion.

Going forward, the FTC will work with the DOJ to update merger guidance to better-reflect market realities. The FTC majority statement lays out several areas for consideration in that review.  First, the FTC intends to explore ways to provide clear guidance on the characteristics of transactions that are likely unlawful. Second, the FTC will look at ways to provide guidance on ineffective remedies, based on an evaluation of past remedy practices and any evidence that past remedies may not have fully restored competition. Finally, the agency will look to expand on the harms identified in the 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines to consider various features of modern firms, including in digital markets, and impacts of mergers on labor markets. 

The Commission vote to rescind the policy statement was 3-2, with the majority issuing a separate statement and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson issuing a separate dissenting statement.

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.  For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blog.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: mkatz
Posted: September 15, 2021, 12:00 pm

Agency to Focus on Service Members and Veterans; Children; Algorithmic and Biometric Bias; Deceptive and Manipulative Conduct on the Internet; and Repair Restrictions; Abuse of Intellectual Property; and Monopolization

At the joint recommendation from its Bureau of Consumer Protection and Bureau of Competition, the Federal Trade Commission voted to approve and make public a series of resolutions that will enable agency staff to efficiently and expeditiously investigate conduct in core FTC priority areas over the next ten years.

The Bureaus recommended that the Commission authorize eight new compulsory process resolutions in these essential areas: (1) Acts or Practices Affecting United States Armed Forces Service Members and Veterans; (2) Acts or Practices Affecting Children; (3) Bias in Algorithms and Biometrics; (4) Deceptive and Manipulative Conduct on the Internet; and (5) Repair Restrictions. (6) Abuse of Intellectual Property; (7) Common Directors and Officers and Common Ownership; and (8) Monopolization Offenses.

“These resolutions enable the FTC to take swift action against a whole host of illegal conduct in important areas of concern to the Commission,” said Holly Vedova, Acting Director of the Bureau of Competition. She noted that, “Companies engaging in conduct implicated by these resolutions should be forewarned: the FTC looks forward to aggressively using these resolutions and will not hesitate to take action against illegal conduct to the fullest extent possible under the law.”

“Harmful practices – especially those targeting children, veterans, and marginalized communities – will not be tolerated by this Commission,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Today’s resolutions ensure our staff can rapidly respond to allegations of abuse and fight fraud without delay.”  

Specifically, the resolutions approved by a Commission vote of 3-2 will allow:

  • Service members and Veterans: harmful business practices directed at service members and veterans are a source of significant public concern, and, now, FTC staff will be able to expeditiously investigate any allegations in this important area. 
  • Children under 18: harmful conduct directed at children under 18 has been a source of significant public concern, now, FTC staff will similarly be able to expeditiously investigate any allegations in this important area. 
  • Algorithmic and Biometric Bias: allows staff to investigate allegations of bias in algorithms and biometrics. Algorithmic bias was the subject of a recent FTC blog
  • Deceptive and Manipulative Conduct on the Internet: this omnibus expands a previous omnibus resolution on deceptive practices, which expired on Aug. 1. The existing resolution, has enabled the FTC to develop investigations and bring cases in a variety of areas including day trading services, tech support scams,  the BOTS Act,  payment processing,  and the deceptive marketing of goods and services online, including pandemic-related goods like fake Clorox products and face masks. In addition to the areas covered by the existing resolution, this expanded version covers the “manipulation of user interfaces,” including but not limited to dark patterns, also the subject of a recent FTC workshop
  • Repair Restrictions: enhances the FTC’s ongoing investigations into restrictions on repair and builds on the FTC’s recent Policy Statement on Right to Repair.  It would cover a wide range of anti-consumer and anti-competitive abuses and facilitate staff’s impending investigation of violations of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act’s anti-tying provisions.
  • Abuse of Intellectual Property: allows staff to investigate abuses of intellectual property rights. Conduct involving abuse of intellectual property rights has been a source of much anticompetitive and deceptive conduct in many different areas, including pharmaceuticals, technology and gasoline refining, and this omnibus will allow staff to expeditiously investigate allegations in this area. 
  • Common Director and Officers and Common Ownership: facilitates investigations of both ownership stakes in competing companies that may be anticompetitive as well as interlocking directorates that may violate Section 8 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 19. Interlocking directorates and common ownership continue to raise significant competitive concerns.
  • Monopolistic Practices: Market power abuses by tech companies and other large companies are rightly a source of bipartisan concern. This omnibus will allow staff to more expeditiously investigate market power abuses by dominant firms that are precluding businesses and entrepreneurs from being able to compete, particularly in digital markets.  

Compulsory process refers to the issuance of demands for documents and testimony, through the use of civil investigative demands and subpoenas. 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. Civil investigative demands and subpoenas are assigned to a Commissioner for review and authorization by the FTC’s Office of Secretary, typically on a rotating basis or according to availability. The Commission has routinely adopted compulsory process resolutions on a wide range of topics. The resolutions announced 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 covers investigations into competition or consumer protection conduct violations under the FTC Act. 

Streamlining and improving efficiency at the agency is vitally important given the increased volume of investigatory work created by the surge in merger filings. Having already doubled between 2010 and 2020, the number of mergers filed with the antitrust authorities this year hit a record-setting pace of 2,067 acquisitions for the first seven months alone.  With these resolutions in place, the FTC can better utilize its limited resources and move forward in earnest to quickly investigate potential misconduct. The Bureaus are now authorized to take steps to ensure that any compulsory process orders are enforceable.

Chair Khan and Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter voted yes, and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson voted no. Chair Khan and Commissioner Slaughter issued a statement. Commissioner Chopra issued a separate statement. Commissioners Wilson and Phillips issued a dissenting statement.

The vote to make the omnibus resolutions public was 5-0.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: bacree
Posted: September 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division today issued a joint statement detailing antitrust guidance for businesses taking part in relief efforts and those involved in rebuilding communities affected by Hurricane Ida without violating the antitrust laws.

“When a disaster like Hurricane Ida strikes, it’s unconscionable for any company to exploit the tragedy for their own financial gain,” said Holly Vedova, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “We’re committed to working with our partners to crack down on abusive and illegal practices and protecting the people affected by the disaster so they can focus on recovering.”

“The Antitrust Division and its law enforcement partners will not tolerate businesses and individuals who prey upon hurricane victims or seek to corrupt relief efforts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Antitrust Division. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the division’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force will leverage every tool in its arsenal to root out collusion, corruption, and fraud targeting disaster relief.”

The antitrust laws accommodate procompetitive collaborations among competitors. At the same time, the agencies intend to hold accountable those who enter into anticompetitive agreements that take advantage of hurricane victims or hurricane relief efforts. Among other actions, the Department of Justice will criminally prosecute companies that fix prices, rig bids, or allocate customers, and the FTC will investigate and take action against companies and individuals who violate the consumer protection laws.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

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Author: bacree
Posted: September 14, 2021, 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission is sending checks to 603 people who paid money they did not owe to a debt collector that used deceptive and abusive collection methods.

In 2018, the FTC and State of New York alleged that Campbell Capital, LLC and its owner, Robert Heidenreich, along with a number of other related companies, collected payments on debts from consumers that exceeded theExplore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumers amounts they allegedly owed. The defendants in the case were able to collect these funds by allegedly using tactics such as threatening that consumers would be arrested or served with legal papers at work if they did not make payments immediately. In some cases, according to the suit filed by the FTC and New York, the collectors pretended to be sheriff’s office employees or process servers when making such threats in phone calls with consumers.

Heidenreich agreed to a settlement with the FTC and New York in February 2020 that permanently banned him from the debt collection industry and required him to turn over funds to be used to provide refunds to affected consumers. In total, $19,826.64 will be sent to consumers, with each receiving a check for $32.88.

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, Analytics, at 866-881-1214. 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 protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Contact For Consumers:
Analytics
Refund Administrator
866-881-1214

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

Author: jmayfield
Posted: September 13, 2021, 12:00 pm

In joint action, the FDA also warns the companies they may be violating the law

The Federal Trade Commission sent cease-and-desist letters to 10 companies suspected of advertising unproven treatments or cures for diabetes, ordering the companies to stop making unsubstantiated claims within 15 days or face potential legal action by the FTC.

“Out-of-control insulin prices are driving Americans to turn to questionable products rather than proven treatments,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC and FDA are joining forces to call out 10 companies for selling supposed diabetes treatments that don’t appear to be supported by sound science.”

The FTC demands were issued jointly with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letters, in which the FDA warned the companies that their diabetes products are both unapproved and misbranded, in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

The FTC’s cease and desist demands were issued to the following companies: 1) Ar-Rahmah Pharm, LLC; 2) Aceva, LLC; 3) Live Good Inc.; 4) Holistic Healer & Wellness Center, Inc.; 5) Lysulin, Inc.; 6) Metamune Inc.; 7) Nuturna International LLC; 8) Pharmaganics LLC; 9) Phytag Labs; and 10) Radhanite, LLC d/b/a Curalife Ltd.

The FTC Act

The letters state that the Commission is concerned that one or more of the efficacy claims in the companies’ advertisements may not be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence, as required by the FTC Act. Further, the agency demands the companies stop making any claim that a product can prevent, treat, or cure diabetes without the required scientific evidence, or potentially face legal action by the Commission. The letters also note that marketers who make deceptive claims about the treatment, cure, prevention, or mitigation of a disease may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $43,792 per violation. They also may be required to pay refunds to consumers who purchased the deceptively marketed products under section 19(b) of the FTC Act. The letters order the companies to notify the FTC by email within 15 working days of receipt of what specific actions they have taken to address the FTC’s concerns.

The FD&C Act

Under the FD&C Act, products intended to cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent disease are drugs and are subject to the requirements that apply to drugs, even if they are labeled as dietary supplements. Unlike drugs approved by the FDA, the agency has not evaluated whether the unapproved products subject to the warning letters announced today are effective for their intended use, what the proper dosage might be, how they could interact with FDA-approved drugs or other substances, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.

CONTACT INFORMATION


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

Author: mkatz
Posted: September 9, 2021, 12:00 pm

Today, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina M. Khan announced that an open meeting of the Commission will be held virtually on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. The open meeting will begin at 11 am 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 September 15 Commission meeting:

Business Before the Commission

Proposed Policy Statement on Privacy Breaches by Health Apps and Connected Devices: The Commission will vote on whether to issue a policy statement on the importance of protecting the public from privacy breaches by health apps and other connected devices.

Non-HSR Reported Acquisitions by Select Technology Platforms, 2010-2019: An FTC Study: Staff will present some findings from the Commission’s inquiry into large technology platforms’ unreported acquisitions, including an analysis of the structure of deals that customarily fly under enforcers’ radar. The public release of the report is subject to commission vote.

Proposed Revisions to FTC Procedural Rules Concerning Petitions for Rulemaking: The Commission will vote on putting in place a process to receive public input on rulemaking petitions by external stakeholders.

Proposed Withdrawal of 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines: The Commission will vote on whether to rescind the Vertical Merger Guidelines adopted in June 2020 and the Commentary on Vertical Merger Enforcement issued in December 2020.

After the Commission meeting has concluded, 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 September 15 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 webform. Speaker registration and comment submission will be available through Sunday, September 12, 2021, 8pm 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 event will be available beginning on September 15, 2021 at 8 am ET via FTC.gov. 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:
Office of Public Affairs
202-468-7684

Author: bjames@ftc.gov
Posted: September 8, 2021, 12:00 pm

 

The FTC’s Blog on Privacy & Identity

Business Blog Posts

By Lesley Fair

The FTC just released a report based on data received from major players in the mobile Internet market and A Look at What ISPs Know About You: Examining the Privacy Practices of Six Major Internet Service Providers is an eye opener.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: October 21, 2021, 7:45 pm
By by Maria Mayo, Acting Associate Director, Division of Consumer Response and Operations, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection

The FTC has been warning consumers for years about impersonation scams – calls that falsely claim to come from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or other offices or businesses. The messages try to coerce people into making immediate payments or turning over sensitive personal information.

Read more >
Author: by Maria Mayo, Acting Associate Director, Division of Consumer Response and Operations, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection<br />
Posted: October 20, 2021, 2:06 pm
By Lesley Fair

Employing every available means to protect consumers from deceptive and misleading practices, the FTC recently announced the revitalized use of its statutory Penalty Offense Authority. More than 700 businesses – top consumer products companies, leading retailers and retail platforms, major ad agencies, and other names you know – are recipients of the latest Notice of Penalty Offenses aimed at curbing illegal practices in the use of endorsements and testimonials.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: October 13, 2021, 5:53 pm
By Lesley Fair

When the financial future of millions of Americans is at stake, it’s important for the FTC to use every tool at its disposal to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair conduct. The FTC just announced the revitalized use of an existing method to hold companies accountable by imposing financial penalties for illegal acts.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: October 6, 2021, 3:20 pm
By Holly Vedova and Samuel Levine

The FTC was created to act as a guardian of fair markets, armed with broad authority to ensure our economy is one in which consumers, workers, and honest businesses can thrive.

Chair Khan is committed to realizing that vision of an agency that takes on problems holistically, rather than from a consumer protection or competition lens alone. This means ensuring that the Commission’s two enforcement bureaus – the Bureau of Competition and the Bureau of Consumer Protection – are working hand-in-hand to root out marketplace abuses.

Read more >
Author: Holly Vedova and Samuel Levine<br />
Posted: September 24, 2021, 6:20 pm
By Samuel Levine, Acting Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection

According to the CDC, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes. To put a human face on that public health statistic, 1 in 10 people at your company, friends in your neighborhood, and members of your extended family struggle with a disease that could threaten their lives. The uninsured, those with high-deductible health plans, and lower-income consumers face another challenge that makes managing diabetes even more difficult: the high cost of insulin.

Read more >
Author: Samuel Levine, Acting Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection<br />
Posted: September 9, 2021, 4:01 pm
By Lesley Fair

The Nilsson song “Everybody’s Talking” has withstood the test of time and now could refer to the host of smart household products that communicate with consumers – and often with each other. But are companies protecting the security of consumer information they collect or maintain?

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: September 8, 2021, 6:42 pm
By Lesley Fair

If your company is facing the fall-out from Hurricane Ida, flooding in Tennessee, western wildfires, or any other natural disaster, your employees are looking for help in the recovery process – and you’re looking to make a safe return to business. But as flood waters recede, dangerous predators can spring to the surface: scammers targeting people and small businesses trying to get back on their feet. Here are ways to avoid common post-disaster scams.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: September 3, 2021, 3:14 pm
By Lesley Fair

By installing an app called SpyFone onto the device of an unsuspecting person, a user could stealthily track their target’s email, photos, contacts, calendars, web history, and even location. Support King, LLC, and CEO Scott Zuckerman marketed SpyFone as a way to monitor the activities of children and employees, neglecting to take action to prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from using the illegal secret surveillance effectuated by the company’s products.

Read more >
Author: Lesley Fair<br />
Posted: September 1, 2021, 8:07 pm
By Seena Gressin

Have you or one of your employees received an alarming text message about unemployment insurance benefits from what seems to be your state workforce agency? You’re not alone. Identity thieves are targeting millions of people nationwide with scam phishing texts aimed at stealing personal information, unemployment benefits, or both.

Read more >
Author: Seena Gressin<br />
Posted: August 4, 2021, 2:26 pm

 


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