ICFE eNEWS #16-11 - April 25th 2016
View this eNEWS online
Penn News for April 2016
News from the Federal Trade Commission
Volkswagen's "Clean Diesel" Claims
The FTC filed a complaint against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. for
making deceptive advertising claims about its diesel engine automobiles.
Under its Volkswagen and Audi brands, Volkswagen allegedly sold or
leased more than 550,000 vehicles with concealed, illegal "defeat
devices." The defeat devices contained software hiding the fact that the
vehicles' emissions greatly exceeded government emissions standards. VW
extensively promoted its "Clean Diesel" vehicles as environmentally
friendly, having low emissions, and being legally compliant.
Lord & Taylor's Paid Advertising Ploy
According to an FTC complaint, Lord & Taylor failed to reveal that it
paid 50 fashionistas and an online fashion magazine to praise one of its
dresses on Instagram and in an online article, all as part of an ad
campaign. The FTC says what looked like independent reviews actually
were ads dressed up as honest opinions, with no mention that these were
paid promotions. The FTC's proposed settlement prohibits Lord & Taylor
from misrepresenting paid advertising as independent, objective
Deceptive Cancer Charities Settle Charges
Cancer Fund of America (CFA) and Cancer Support Services (CSS) agreed to
settle charges brought by the FTC, all 50 states, and the District of
Columbia that, while those two groups claimed to help cancer patients,
they actually spent the overwhelming majority of donations on their
operators, families and friends, and fundraisers. According to the
order, CFA and CSS will shut down and their assets will be liquidated.
There also is a judgment against CFA, CSS, and their leader, James
Reynolds, of $75,825,653 - the amount consumers donated between
2008 and 2012.
"The FTC and our state enforcement partners have ended a pernicious
charity fraud that syphoned hundreds of millions of dollars away from
well-meaning consumers, legitimate charities, and people with cancer who
needed the services the defendants falsely promised."
- Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer
All-Natural Personal-care Products?
Four companies agreed to settle charges that they misrepresented their
skin care products, shampoos, and sunscreens as "all natural" or "100%
natural," when they actually contained synthetic ingredients. The FTC
says the claims appeared in both product labels and product ads. The
companies have agreed to proposed orders to stop saying a product is
100% natural unless they have reliable evidence to back up the claim.
The orders also would require proof for any claims the companies make
about a product's environmental or health benefits. The proposed orders
are subject to public comment through May 12, 2016, after which the
Commission will decide whether to make the orders final. The Commission
issued a complaint against a fifth company, California Naturel, seeking
the same relief.
FTC Says Company Blocked Access to Low-Cost Pain Meds
The FTC charged Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. and several other drug
companies with violating antitrust laws by using pay-for-delay
settlements to block consumers' access to lower-cost generic versions of
two prescription pain medications, Opana ER and Lidoderm. "This lawsuit
reflects the FTC's commitment to stopping pay-for-delay agreements that
inflate the prices of prescription drugs and harm competition,
regardless of the form they take," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
The FTC's case seeks to stop the defendants' conduct, disgorge their
ill-gotten gains, and bar them from similar deals in the future.
In the Highlights
The FTC's Annual Highlights of 2015 shows the agency's accomplishments
in enforcement, policy and consumer education, as well as the top
consumer complaints. An infographic summarizes the work and complaint
data for 2015, including top complaints about debt collection, identity
theft, and imposter scams.
Fake Debt Collector Network Shut Down
The Illinois Attorney General and the FTC got a federal court in Chicago
to shut down a network of fake debt collectors allegedly trying to
collect phantom debt that consumers don't actually owe. According to the
FTC, the defendants also provided the bogus debt portfolios to other
collectors, who then tried to collect on them.
Robocalling Pitchmen Take a Permanent Vacation
Orlando-based telemarketing company USA Vacation Station settled FTC
charges that the company made millions of illegal robocalls to sell
vacation packages. Under the order, the company and its owner are
permanently banned from making robocalls.
Your Money Back
The FTC is returning money to people affected by three different cases.
Consumers never have to pay money or provide information before they can
cash refund checks from the FTC. Want information about the FTC's refund
program? Visit ftc.gov/refunds.
More than $33,000 is going back to people who lost money to Wealth
Education, Inc., a company that allegedly charged homeowners an up-front
fee for mortgage relief services they never received.
The FTC is mailing 1,701 checks totaling more than $596,000 to people
who lost money to Kirit Patel, Broadway Global Master Inc. and In-Arabia
Solutions Inc., which, the FTC says, ran a deceptive debt collection
The FTC is also mailing 2,172 refund checks totaling nearly $210,000 to
people who bought "disinfectant" devices from Zadro Health Solutions,
Inc., which claimed their devices "safely kill 99.99%" of targeted
IN OTHER NEWS:
FTC Releases New Guidance For Developers of Mobile Health Apps
FTC to Host Fall Seminar Series on Emerging Consumer Technology Issues
FTC Issues Warning Letters Regarding the Agency's Contact Lens Rule
Need #consumer publications? Visit www.ftc.gov/bulkorder and order all
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Know someone new to the U.S.? Help protect them from #scams. Get FTC
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Ready to hit the road? Check out these tips on #carbuying.
Summer's almost here. Start scam-proofing your #vacation with these
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