ICFE
ICFE eNEWS #11-38 - December 14th 2011

News from the Federal Trade Commission - December 2011

News from the Federal Trade Commission - December 2011

Fair and Share

Fair and Share
Facebook has agreed to settle FTC charges that it deceived its users — telling them they could keep information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. According to the FTC’s complaint, the social networking behemoth allegedly made promises it didn’t keep, like changing its website to make information public that may have been designated as private — like a Friends List — without warning users. Or telling people they could restrict sharing to “Friends Only" when that didn’t prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used. Under the settlement, Facebook must get approval from users before it changes the way it shares their data, and submit to periodic independent audits of its privacy practices for the next 20 years.

Over 200 Million Served

Over 200 Million Served
Know anyone on the Do Not Call Registry? Odds are you do: the registry includes an estimated 210 million registered phone numbers, according to the latest National Do Not Call Registry Data Book. Since 2003, the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry has given people an easy way to stop unwanted telemarketing calls. But a warning comes with the news that the registry continues to grow: scammers pick up on what’s popular, and some have been calling people claiming they’re offering a chance to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry. If you want to register your number, visit donotcall.gov. Registering a number is free and you can do it 24/7.

Secret Identities

Secret Identities
The FTC is seeking to stop an operation that allegedly gave clients technology to make illegal robocalls, call phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and mask Caller ID information. According to the FTC's complaint, filed by the Department of Justice, Sonkei Communications, Inc., sold robocall services to telemarketers pitching credit card services, home security systems, and grant procurement programs. The defendants allegedly gave their clients the ability to hide their identity on caller ID displays by transmitting inaccurate caller names, like "SERVICE MESSAGE." The FTC also alleged that the defendants knew, or consciously avoided knowing, that their clients called phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

Berry Deceptive

Berry Deceptive
The FTC and the state of Connecticut are seeking to shut down an operation that allegedly used fake news sites to promote weight loss products, and took in more than $25 million in the process. With stories like "Acai Berry Diet Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam?," the sites run by Boris Mizhen and his companies often displayed the logos of major news sources, such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, and featured fake reporters claiming they lost weight without a special diet or exercise. But that wasn’t the end of it: the FTC alleges that people who ordered free trials of acai berry and “colon cleanse” products from the defendants’ websites paid $79.99 for the trial offer and monthly shipments that they found difficult to cancel. 

Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity Knocks
The FTC has added some important elements to its Business Opportunity Rule. The revised Rule requires business opportunity sellers to give potential buyers a simple one-page document disclosing lawsuits involving the seller, and including a list of references. If sellers make claims about how much money you could earn, they have to give you a separate document with more specifics. The revised Rule enables people to get the information they need to fact check an opportunity and assess its risks in a more streamlined, accessible way. Read Looking to Earn Extra Income? Rule Helps You Avoid Bogus Business Opportunity Offers for more.
                                

Pool Rules

Pool Rules
To settle FTC charges, the largest distributor of swimming pool products in the U.S. has agreed to stop using anticompetitive tactics. According to the FTC, PoolCorp used its monopoly power to keep competitors at bay by threatening makers of pool products that it wouldn’t sell their products if the manufacturers sold their products to new distributors as well. The FTC charged that this strategy significantly raised costs for competing pool product distributors, and lowered sales, increased prices, and reduced the choices available to consumers.

"Facebook's innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC action will ensure it will not."

Jon Leibowitz, FTC Chairman

Eye Opening News

Three internet marketers who illegally sold "circle" contact lenses without a prescription have agreed to settle FTC charges. Cosmetic contacts, like circle lenses that make eyes look bigger, aren’t meant to correct vision. But they require a prescription because lenses that don’t fit or aren’t cared for properly can cause serious eye problems. Read Before You Buy Cosmetic Contact Lenses.

Money Back

More than 200 people defrauded by a fake check and prize scam have received refund checks averaging $370 each. The victims, who deposited checks and wired back “fees” to claim prizes up to $750,000, were out the money they wired when the checks turned out to be fake, the FTC says. The FTC also is mailing checks to about 2,900 victims of a company that allegedly sold worthless debt management services, and another 75,000 checks to people deceived by an online marketing operation that sold work-at-home opportunities.


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  • Not all dietary supplements are safe — even “natural” ones. Learn more: http://go.usa.gov/5wn
  • Heads up, tech savvy users: OnGuardOnline.gov has tips just for you on a new Techies page: http://go.usa.gov/5fZ
  • Headed home for the holidays? Make sure a relative isn’t the target of bogus sweepstakes or telemarketers: http://go.usa.gov/5f8

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Sent by:

Paul Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)


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