ICFE eNEWS #16-19 - June 30th 2016
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FTC Targets Student Loan Debt Relief Schemes
The FTC and the State of Florida sued Consumer Assistance Project and Student Aid Center for student loan debt relief schemes. The companies allegedly promised to get people out of student loan debt or to get those debts significantly reduced through government programs. However, people who paid the companies got virtually nothing for their money. At best, loans were deferred or put into forbearance. At worst, Student Aid Center told people to stop contacting their lenders and pay the company instead, which made the situation worse.
"The FTC is not going to stand on the sidelines when it uncovers evidence of fraudsters targeting students. Consumers should be wary of any company that claims it can eliminate or greatly reduce debt, especially if they ask for money in advance."
- Jessica Rich, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection
FTC Stops LearningRx "Brain Train" Promises in Their Tracks
LearningRx Franchise Corporation has agreed to settle FTC charges that it falsely advertised its brain-training programs as able to dramatically improve brain functions. Some ads even claimed its programs could permanently beat symptoms of ADHD, autism, age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, strokes, and traumatic brain injuries. But, despite ads saying "results are clinically proven, scientifically measurable and permanent," the FTC says LearningRx's claims were not backed by solid science.
FTC Says Fake Charity Claimed Donations Help Disabled Workers
The FTC sued and shut down American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc. (AHDW) for pretending to be a charitable organization and lying about how it used people's donations. According to the complaint, AHDW's telemarketers - often claiming to be disabled themselves - asked people to either give money or buy household products to help pay wages for disabled AHDW employees. Callers also promised a free gift as thanks for the donations. In reality, says the FTC, most of the telemarketers weren't disabled, and only a small portion of AHDW's earnings went to its few disabled employees. And those unordered "gifts"? They came with invoices - and harassing calls demanding payment.
Company Settles Charges about Privacy of Doctor Reviews
Practice Fusion settled FTC charges that it misled consumers when seeking reviews for their doctors without adequately disclosing their comments containing sensitive health information would be posted publicly on the internet. According to the FTC, Practice Fusion emailed surveys to patients after doctor visits, with the aim of becoming an online healthcare provider directory, complete with reviews. The emails appeared to be from patients' doctors, and people likely thought they were communicating privately with their physician. Then, says the FTC, Practice Fusion published information about prescriptions, conditions, and procedures - and, in some cases, included the person's full name, phone number, and other private information.
Spam Campaign Pitches Bogus Weight-Loss Products
The FTC charged an affiliate marketing operation with dishonestly trying to sell weight-loss products by sending millions of consumers spoofed, spam emails with links to fake news sites. The FTC says the emails seemed to come from someone familiar, but actually came from hackers. The emails linked to fake news sites with fictitious articles and phony endorsements - even, supposedly, from Oprah - and claims of huge weight-loss results. But, the FTC says, the claims are not backed by solid science.
New Videos, Site Warn Consumers about Imposter Scams
To help people recognize and avoid some common imposter scams, the FTC has created new resources. You can find new videos and articles about spotting IRS imposters, romance scammers, tech support schemers, and family emergency scammers. The videos and other information are available in English or in Spanish.
Florida Energy Companies to Sell Pipeline Interests per FTC Pre-Merger Order
Two energy companies, Energy Transfer Equity and The Williams Companies, agreed to sell an interest in an interstate natural gas pipeline to settle FTC charges that their merger would lead to higher priced natural gas for Florida customers. Natural gas often is used to generate electric power, but Florida has few local sources of natural gas. Instead, utilities and other customers there depend on pipelines to transport natural gas from out-of-state. The FTC's order preserves competition by requiring the companies to sell certain interests to a Commission-approved buyer.
FTC Says Gold, Silver Investment Outfit is Fraudulent
The FTC filed charges against a gold and silver marketing operation for defrauding investors. The FTC says DiscountMetalBrokers marketed gold and silver as investments, selling "at discount prices," yet failed to deliver. Many people used their retirement savings to buy the precious metals, with individual orders ranging from $1,000 to $300,000.
Company Settles Misleading Weight-Loss and Menopause Relief Claims
Lunada Biomedical, Inc. has settled FTC charges that it deceptively marketed a dietary supplement to perimenopausal and menopausal women, making unsupported claims about its ability to help users lose weight and relieve menopause-related symptoms. Among other things, the order bars defendants from making unsubstantiated claims for any dietary supplement.
Banned Mortgage Assistance and Debt Relief Operations
The FTC has created a list of mortgage and debt relief operations that the FTC has asked the courts to permanently ban from the industry. The FTC has sued over 500 companies and individuals who broke the law, and banned nearly 300 of them.
Your Money Back
The FTC is returning money to people targeted by scams.
The FTC recently settled a deceptive advertising lawsuit against Lumos Labs, Inc., the marketers of the Lumosity brain-training program, saying its claims about the program are not supported by science. Affected consumers may apply online or complete this PDF form and mail it to: FTC v. Lumos Labs, Inc. et al.; Refund Administrator; P.O. Box 2008; Chanhassen, MN 55317.
The FTC is mailing 1,400 checks to people who paid for bogus cancer cures. Daniel Chapter One and its principal, James Feijo, deceptively marketed the supposed benefits of four dietary supplements - BioShark, 7 Herb Formula, GDU, and BioMixx.
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.
IN OTHER NEWS:
FTC Adds Defendants, Charges in Ongoing Tech Support Scam Case
FTC Seeks Public Input On Proposed Changes to the Fuel Economy Guide
Trying to make money? Say no to income #scams #workathome #workathomescams
Beach bound this summer? Here's what you need to know about #timeshares #timesharescams
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