ICFE
ICFE eNEWS #15-24 - July 2015
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Penn News - FTC Newsletter for July 2015

This version of Penn Corner is corrected: the FTC and the Florida Attorney General have filed a complaint against Lifewatch, not a settlement.

Mobile App Hijack

The FTC and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General took action against two software app developers, Equiliv Investments and Ryan Ramminger, alleging their mobile app, called "Prized," hijacked people's phones to mine for virtual currencies. Users thought they could earn prizes by playing games and taking surveys through the app. But the FTC alleges the app had malware that sapped the phone's computing power, made phones run slower, drained battery life, and used up data plans - all so the developers could secretly make money mining virtual currencies.

Risky Free Trials

The FTC issued a complaint against AuraVie, Dellure, LéOR and Miracle Face Kit for deceiving people about their "risk-free" trials for skin care products. The companies told people to give their credit or debit card information to pay a small shipping fee for a trial offer. But then, said the FTC, people ended up with close to $100 in charges. According to the FTC, the companies also illegally signed people up for recurring product shipments without consent. The FTC says the companies made it hard for people to cancel their memberships, avoid charges, and get refunds.

Payless Solutions Deception

The FTC and the Florida Attorney General filed a complaint against Payless Solutions for making robocalls that tricked older people into giving their personal information - and then charging them $300-$3499 for supposedly lowering their credit card interest rate. According to the complaint, Payless Solutions lied about lowering people's interest rates, lied about working for consumers' banks, and unfairly charged consumers' credit cards without authorization. And those annoying robocalls? They violated the Do Not Call rules.

Auto Dealer Cheaters

Planet Nissan and Planet Hyundai agreed to settle FTC charges that they misrepresented the cost of buying or leasing a vehicle. According to the complaint, the auto dealers advertised car sales, leasing or financing options that seemed attractive, but were cancelled out by fine-print disclaimers. The FTC alleges that some of the company's disclaimers left out relevant terms - like the total amount due at signing; other ads said leases were available for zero money down, even though thousands of dollars were due at signing.

Sham Medical Alert Campaign

The FTC and the Florida Attorney General have filed a complaint against Lifewatch for allegedly making illegal robocalls to pitch a "free" medical alert system to older people. The FTC alleges that Lifewatch tricked people into signing up for the system by telling them it had already been paid for by friends or family. According to the FTC, Lifewatch got people's credit card or bank account information, charged a monthly monitoring fee, refused to let people cancel, and lied about being endorsed by major organizations like the American Heart Association or AARP.

Blocked Merger Keeps Prices Low

The FTC successfully blocked the $8.2 billion merger of competing national foodservice distributors, Sysco and US Foods. "This proposed merger between the country's two largest foodservice distributors would have likely increased prices paid by restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, and hospitals across the country for food products and related services, and ultimately the prices paid by people eating at those establishments," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. After a federal court granted the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction, Sysco and US Foods abandoned their merger plans, and the Commission dismissed its administrative complaint.

New Solar Power Tips

Thinking about using solar power at home? The FTC has new information to help you sort through the options. Solar Power for Your Home explains the costs and benefits of buying or leasing a system, as well as signing a power purchase agreement. It also has tips to help you evaluate companies and products, and advice about what to know before you sign a contract. For more consumer tips, visit consumer.ftc.gov.

"The sellers of AuraVie tricked people into paying a lot of extra money for skin care products. Companies need to give clear, honest information about charges. If a company advertises a 'risk free trial,' then that's what it must provide."
- Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection

Debt Collection Scam Refunds

The FTC is mailing 95,000 checks, totaling almost $4 million, to people who lost money to a debt collection scam. According to the FTC, Asset Capital and Management Group illegally threatened people until they made payments for credit card debt. People who receive checks from the FTC's refund administrator, Analytics Consulting LLC, should deposit or cash them within 60 days of the mailing date. Information about the FTC's refund program is available online.

False Claims About Procera

Brain Research Labs, KeyView Labs, and MedHealth Direct agreed to settle FTC charges that they misled people by saying their product, Procera AVH, was a clinically-proven solution to reverse memory loss, and improve focus and mood. The FTC alleges the companies made false claims when they used ads to play on the fears of older people - warning that, by age 50, people lose over half their brainpower. The FTC says the companies didn't back up their claims with proven science.

BurnLounge Pyramid Scheme Refunds

The FTC is mailing 52,099 checks, totaling almost $1.9 million, to consumers who lost money to a pyramid scheme. According to the FTC, BurnLounge pretended to be a multi-level marketing program selling people opportunities to operate online digital music stores. People receiving checks from the FTC's refund administrator, Gilardi & Co. LLC, have 60 days from the mailing date to deposit or cash them.

IN OTHER NEWS:

FTC Action Stops Massive Payday Loan Fraud Scheme
FTC Approves Final Consent Order Against Network Solutions for Misleading Consumers About Refunds
FTC Action Puts an End to Fraudulent Debt Collection Scheme that Targeted Spanish-Speaking Consumers

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Sent by:

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


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