ICFE eNEWS #15-13 - Apr 16th 2015

Penn Corner  - FTC update

Crackdown On Deceptive Car Dealers

The FTC and 32 partners in the U.S. and Canada announced Operation Ruse Control, a law enforcement sweep to protect people who buy or lease a car. 252 enforcement actions were brought against dishonest car dealers. The charges ranged from deceptive advertising and criminal auto loan application fraud, to odometer fraud, deceptive add-on loan servicing fees, and deceptive marketing of car title loans. The effort includes six new cases the FTC brought against companies that tricked people with deceptive auto sales, financing and leasing.


BMW of North America LLC agreed to settle the FTC's charges that the company told MINI owners they would void their warranty unless they used MINI parts, and MINI dealers, to do maintenance and repair work on their cars. According to the FTC, this violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Under the settlement, BMW will not threaten to void MINI owners' warranties for using other parts and service providers. The settlement also prohibits BMW from making unsupported claims that routine maintenance by MINI dealers is the only way to ensure that a car will operate safely or maintain its value.

FTC Credit Repair Impersonator Stopped

The FTC filed a complaint against FTC Credit Solutions, for deceiving people by claiming to be affiliated with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC says the company marketed bogus credit repair services to people who speak Spanish, and then illegally charged them fees before providing any service. According to the real FTC, "FTC Credit Solutions" also falsely promised to remove negative information from credit reports, and to improve credit scores.

LeadClick's Misleading Product Claims

According to the FTC, an affiliate marketing network called LeadClick Media was responsible for false claims made in a marketing scheme that sold acai berry and "colon cleanse" weight-loss products. The FTC says LeanSpa, which hired LeadClick to push its products, used a "free trial" ploy to enroll people into a recurring - and hard-to-cancel - $79.99 per month purchase program. The FTC says LeadClick's network lured people to LeanSpa's online store by using fake news websites with what appeared to be reviews and endorsements from journalists and customers. The company was ordered to pay $16 million, which will be used for customer refunds.

AdvaCAL Calcium Supplement Refunds

The FTC mailed 17,606 refund checks totaling almost $955,000 to people who lost money buying the AdvaCAL calcium supplement marketed by Lane Labs-USA Inc. According to the FTC, Lane Labs made false and unsubstantiated claims that AdvaCAL was the only calcium supplement that could increase bone density. The company also claimed that AdvaCAL was equal or better than prescription drugs used to treat osteoporosis. Eligible customers who receive the checks must cash them by May 18, 2015, or they will become void. And remember, the FTC will never ask you to pay anything or give personal information before you can cash a refund check.

Hawaii's Gas Prices Stay Competitive

Par Petroleum Corporation will terminate its storage and throughput rights at a key gasoline terminal in Hawaii, to settle FTC charges that its $107 million acquisition of Mid Pac Petroleum, would reduce competition, and likely lead to higher gasoline prices in Hawaii. According to the FTC, Par and Mid Pac are two of only four companies that handle bulk supplies of Hawaii-grade gasoline blendstock, which is gasoline before it is blended with ethanol to make finished gasoline. By acquiring Mid Pac's rights in a terminal located on Oahu, Par could impair the ability of Aloha, the other company with terminal rights, to compete.

Hacked Email? Hijacked computer?

Do you know what to do when your personal email gets hacked? How about when malware hijacks your home computer? The FTC has two new videos to help: Hacked Email: What to Do and Hijacked Computer: What to Do. Use them yourself, or pass them on to friends and family. For more information on about how to be safe, secure and responsible online, visit OnGuardOnline.gov

"For most people, buying a car is one of the largest purchases they'll make. Car ads must be truthful, loan terms must be clear, and dealer practices must be honest. That's why our partners are working together to crack down on deceptive marketing about car sales, leasing and financing."
— Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection

National Business Consultants, Inc. Refunds

The FTC sent 358 refund checks totaling nearly $940,000 to people who lost money with National Business Consultant's, Inc. business opportunity scheme. According to the FTC, the company misled people about how much money they would make as business or sales consultants, and how they would get assignments. The FTC says the company also misled people about refunding deposits to consultants, and provided false references. Visit the FTC's refund page for more information.

Not So Sleek Slimming Creams

The FTC is mailing 10,620 refund checks totaling more than $416,000 to people who lost money buying two skin creams marketed by L'Occitane, Inc. The FTC says the company falsely claimed their Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight skin creams had clinically proven "body slimming" capabilities. Checks must be cashed by May 19, 2015, or they will become void.

Hidden Fee in Money Back Guarantee

Network Solutions LLC, a domain name registrar and web hosting provider, agreed to settle charges after the FTC said the company misled people who bought its web hosting service with a "30 Day Money Back Guarantee." According to the complaint, although the company guaranteed people full refunds if they canceled the services within 30 days, they did not clearly disclose that they would withhold part of their refunds as a cancellation fee.

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Sent by:

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

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