ICFE eNEWS #16-16 - May 31st 2016
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Penn News for May 2016

News from the Federal Trade Commission

Judge Finds Amazon Liable

A federal judge granted the FTC's request for a summary judgment against Amazon for allegedly billing people for unauthorized in-app charges made by children. The judge's order says that Amazon's disclosures about possible in-app charges within otherwise "free" apps were not sufficient. The order also notes the many complaints Amazon got from consumers about these charges. Among other things, the order calls for the FTC and Amazon to determine the precise amount of monetary relief Amazon owes to consumers. The FTC's case against Amazon was filed in July 2014.

Gigats Targeted Job Seekers to Generate Leads

Gigats.com, an education lead generator, agreed to settle FTC charges that the company ran a deceptive scheme to generate sales leads for its clients. According to the complaint, Gigats posted job openings on its site and seemed to accept applications. Instead, says the FTC, Gigats gathered information from applicants and steered them to "employment specialists," who then tried to sign people up for education programs that had agreed to pay Gigats for these leads. The proposed court order prohibits Gigats from making misrepresentations like these again.

Mercola Made False Claims about Tanning Devices

The FTC announced that Joseph Mercola and his companies, Mercola.com, LLC, and Mercola.com Health Resources, LLC, will refund up to $5.3 million to customers to settle charges that they made false claims about their tanning devices. In their ads, Mercola promised people that their tanning beds, booths and lamps were "safe" - a claim, they said, was endorsed by the FDA - and that the devices could even reduce the risk of cancer and signs of aging. The FTC says, however, that Mercola's claims were false or lacked sufficient scientific proof.

Staples and Office Depot Merger Blocked

The FTC successfully blocked the merger of Staples and Office Depot when a federal court found that the combination was likely to lead to higher prices for office supplies used by large companies. The FTC asked the court to enjoin the merger last December, and after considering the evidence presented at a trial last month, the judge granted an injunction in the public interest. The companies have since abandoned their merger plans.

"Based on the research conducted as well as the good use of design principles, I'm confident that target users will be able to find, understand, and act confidently using what they learn on this site. I'd absolutely use it as an example of effective plain writing and information design!"
- Grand ClearMark Award Judge, recognizing IdentityTheft.gov for plain language communication

FTC Warns Doctors to Comply with Eyeglass Rule

The FTC recently sent 38 letters warning eye doctors about possible violations of the Eyeglass Rule. The Rule says patients have the right to get their prescriptions from their eye doctors at the end of eye exams, at no extra charge, and without having to ask. Violations of the Rule could result in legal action and financial penalties.

Subscription Deception

The FTC filed a complaint to stop Liberty Publishers Service, Inc. and other companies from allegedly soliciting newspaper subscriptions under false pretenses. According to the complaint, the companies sent out mailers falsely saying they represented publishing companies and could offer the lowest subscription rates. These claims were untrue, the FTC says, and some people never got their newspapers.

Debt Collector Settles FTC Charges

Credit Protection Association, which collects cable bill debts and reports people's supposed debts to credit bureaus, will settle FTC charges that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FTC says that CPA kept trying to collect from consumers using inaccurate account information (even after multiple disputes), failed to have reasonable written procedures for handling disputes, and did not inform people about the outcome of their disputes.

Your Money Back

The FTC is returning money to people targeted by scams. If you get a check, deposit or cash it within 60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide information before refund checks can be cashed. Want information about the FTC's refund program? Visit ftc.gov/refunds.
The FTC is mailing 1,630 checks totaling nearly $1.87 million to consumers who lost money to Expense Management America, an illegal telemarketing operation that charged homeowners an up-front fee for debt and mortgage relief services it never provided.

FTC To Study Mobile Device Industry's Security Update Practices
FTC Approves Final Order in Vulcun Deceptive App Installation Case
Statement of FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez Regarding Supreme Court's Decision Not to Review POM Wonderful Case

Looking for a degree from an online or distance learning program? Spot, study and steer clear of #scams. http://go.usa.gov/cuhwx
Help your kids keep safe from #cyberbulling. Learn #onlinesafety tips to pass along to your kids. http://go.usa.gov/cuhw5
Get tips from the #FTC on how to #getoutofdebt and deal with #debtcollection. http://go.usa.gov/cuhwV #debt #personalfinances
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Sent by:

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

ICFE - Institute of Consumer Financial Education - ICFE.info - 619.239.1401