ICFE eNEWS #15-26 - August 2015
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Penn News for August 2015

News from the Federal Trade Commission

Data Brokers Sell to Scammers
The FTC has charged a data broker operation with illegally selling sensitive information from online payday loan applications to scammers who then raided people's accounts. According to the complaint, the information collected from applications included Social Security, credit card, and bank account numbers. But instead of passing the information on to legitimate payday lenders, the FTC says the company knowingly sold it to scammers who used it to take millions out of people's accounts and charge their credit cards.

Credit Repair Snare
Four people behind FTC Credit Solutions — a credit repair scheme that targeted Spanish speakers — have agreed to settle FTC charges that they tricked people into paying to get negative information removed from their credit reports. According to the FTC, the company guaranteed it could get people a credit score of 700 or more by removing the information. To bolster its credibility, the company also claimed it was licensed by the FTC. The truth: the FTC doesn't license credit repair services, and removing accurate negative information from a credit report is illegal. In addition to a $2.4 million judgment, the defendants will be banned from the credit repair services industry.

Medicare Card Con
A group of government imposters — who convinced people to hand over their bank account information to get new Medicare cards — has agreed to settle FTC charges. Scammers targeted older people, telling them they needed bank account numbers to verify a person's identity before a new Medicare card could be sent, the FTC says. They assured people no money would be taken out. But the FTC says it was a scam, and people later found several hundred dollars missing from their accounts. Never give out financial or other sensitive information to someone who calls you out of the blue. Read Government Imposter Scams for more.

Trimming the Family Dollar Tree
Discount retailers Dollar Tree and Family Dollar have agreed to sell 330 Family Dollar stores in 35 states to settle charges that Dollar Tree's proposed $9.2 billion acquisition of Family Dollar would likely be anticompetitive. According to the FTC, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores compete head-to-head in price, product assortment, and quality, as well as location and customer service. The FTC's order preserves that competition by requiring Dollar Tree to sell the stores to a new owner that will continue to operate them.

"Scammers used consumer information they bought from this operation to make millions in unauthorized charges. Companies that collect people's sensitive information and give it to scammers can expect to hear from the FTC."
Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection

And the Winner Is... the FTC's Robocall Challenge
On August 13, the Partnership for Public Service presented the FTC's Roberto Anguizola and Kathleen Daffan, as well as the General Services Administration's Tammi Marcoullier, with the Basics Award for Ingenuity and Results, sponsored by former FDIC Chairperson Sheila Bair. The team created the FTC Robocall Challenge, which generated new technical tools to stop unsolicited and illegal telemarketing robocalls.

Money Back
The FTC is returning money to people targeted by two different scams:
  1. In the case of Innovative Wealth Builders, a telemarking operation that falsely promised it could reduce people's credit card interest rates to save them thousands, the FTC has sent 10,387 checks totaling more than $969,000 to people who lost money.
  2. The FTC also is mailing 3,133 checks totaling more than $87,000 to people who lost money to the Your Yellow Book scheme, which tricked small businesses, doctors' offices, retirement homes, religious schools, and charitable organizations into paying for listings they didn't ask for or want in an online "yellow pages" directory. More information about the FTC's refund program is available on the FTC's website.
Follow the Lead Generation Workshop
The FTC will hold a workshop, Follow the Lead: An FTC Workshop About Online Lead Generation, on October 30, 2015, to explore the growing use of online lead generation. This is where online lead generators identify or cultivate consumer interest in a product or service, and then sell the "lead" information to third parties — in industries including consumer lending and education. The workshop is free and open to the public.

FTC Awards $25,000 Top Cash Prize for Contest-Winning Mobile App That Blocks Illegal Robocalls
FTC Issues Statement of Principles Regarding Enforcement of FTC Act as a Competition Statute
"Melanoma Detection" App Sellers Barred from Making Deceptive Health Claims

Back to school time means forms and more forms. Here are some tips to keep your child's info safe.
Storms happen. Make your life easier by making sure your financial documents are up-to-date, in one place, and portable.
Thinking about joining a gym? Here are a few tips to help you find a club that fits your needs — and wallet.

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Sent by:

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

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