ICFE eNEWS #16-45 - December 14th 2016
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NetSpend Falsely Marketed Prepaid Card, FTC Says
The FTC says NetSpend Corporation deceived people by claiming its prepaid debit cards allowed immediate access to funds. NetSpend's ads promised people they could use their cards the day of purchase, that they'd have "immediate access" to funds, and that their money would be "always available." But, says the FTC, this was not so for thousands of people who had trouble accessing funds - including direct-deposited paychecks and government benefits. Cardholders who couldn't access their money often had no other way to pay for necessities, leading to severe financial hardship, including late bill payments, repossessed cars, and even evictions, according to the complaint.
"Innovative financial products can offer many benefits to consumers. However, when companies promise consumers 'immediate access' to their funds, they need to honor those promises. We're committed to protecting consumers - particularly those who are financially strapped - from deceptive practices involving their payment choices." - Jessica Rich, Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC on NetSpend case
FTC Stops Phone Scam Cheating Vulnerable Consumers
At the FTC's request, a federal court froze a telemarketing operation's assets because the company allegedly cheated seniors, veterans, and debt-laden people out of millions. According to the FTC, the Phoenix-based operation sold people a worthless money-making opportunity, supposedly linked to Amazon.com, and also lured people in with a phony grants program. The telemarketers in both schemes asked for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in upfront fees. People who paid received nothing of value and the defendants ignored their requests for refunds. Updated Used Car Rule Features Key Consumer Tips
The FTC has updated the Used Car Rule, which requires used car dealers to post a Buyers Guide on cars they're selling. The Guide gives customers warranty and other information to help them make informed buying decisions. The updated Buyers Guide directs consumers to ftc.gov/usedcars to learn how to get a vehicle history report, to visit safercar.gov to check for open safety recalls and contains other new guidance.
Military Toolkit Gives Tips for Financial Health
In partnership with DoD, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Military Saves, and several other partners, the FTC created the Military Consumer Toolkit. The kit gives servicemembers and their families short, mobile-friendly tips to help make sound financial decisions.
Bausch + Lomb Parent Selling Business
Valeant Pharmaceuticals, parent company of Bausch + Lomb, has agreed to sell a business it bought last year to settle FTC charges that the merger harmed competition for polymer discs used to make hard contact lenses. According to the FTC, Valeant's acquisition of Paragon Holdings combined the two largest manufacturers of polymer discs, or 'buttons,' and allowed Valeant to raise prices, decrease innovation, and reduce distribution options. To restore competition, Valeant will sell Paragon in its entirety to a newly created entity, Paragon Companies LLC.
Court Orders Green Coffee Pitchman to Pay $30m
The FTC obtained a $30 million judgment against Nicholas Scott Congleton, the pitchman behind Pure Green Coffee, for using deception to promote this diet fad, which gained notoriety on the "Dr. Oz" show. Through a variety of companies, Congleton used false weight-loss claims, bogus testimonials, and fake news websites to market the product. The judgment permanently bars Congleton from continuing these practices.
Scam Fleeced Small Trucking Companies, FTC Says The FTC obtained an order to stop a company from allegedly tricking small commercial trucking businesses into paying motor carrier registration fees by impersonating government agencies. The complaint says the company took over $19 million from thousands of small businesses by threatening legal action and fines to get them to pay registrations through its services instead of through official government websites.
FTC Offers Tips to Handle Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware - which occurs when hackers hold files "hostage" and demand payment for giving them back - is a serious online threat facing people and businesses. In response to this threat, the FTC produced a video to show people and businesses how to deal with these attacks.
Your Money Back
FTC Returns $88m to AT&T Premium Text Customers
The FTC is returning more than $88 million to more than 2.7 million AT&T customers who were charged by other companies for "premium text message services" - without those customers' approval. Current AT&T customers will get a credit on their bill within 75 days; former AT&T customers will get a check. The first round of checks were mailed on December 8.
Centro Natural Corp and Sumore LLC Refunds
The FTC is mailing 3,446 checks totaling more than $830,000 to people who lost money to Centro Natural Corp and Sumore LLC, a telemarketing scheme that allegedly targeted Spanish-speaking consumers and demanded they pay bogus debts.
Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Refunds
The FTC is mailing 285,361 checks totaling more than $3.7 million to people who lost money to Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM), a pyramid scheme whose operators were banned from multi-level marketing under a settlement with the FTC and the states of Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina. The FTC expects to have additional funds to distribute in the future, after lawsuits filed against FHTM's highest earning sales representatives have been resolved.
If you get a refund check from the FTC, deposit or cash it within 60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide account information before refund checks can be cashed. Want information about the FTC's refund program? Visit ftc.gov/refunds
IN OTHER NEWS:
FTC Orders Warner Bros. to Disclose Influencer Pay
FTC Says Home Insulator Marketer Made False Claims
Court Lifts Judgment Suspension in Text Spam Case
Buffalo-based Debt Collectors Banned from Business
Is a hacker holding your #computerfiles hostage? Watch a video on #ransomware attacks. http://go.usa.gov/x8U98
Understand the terms of prepaid #debitcards before you buy and use one: http://go.usa.gov/x8UPe. #prepaidcards #reloadablecards
Get the skinny on weight loss product claims before you buy: http://go.usa.gov/x8UEk #falseadvertising
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