FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 4 - Number 10
IN THIS ISSUE
New & Revised Consumer Education
Tip of the Month - Credit Counseling Before Bankruptcy
Numbers to Know
NATURE'S BOUNTY. NBTY, Inc., formerly Nature’s Bounty, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of dietary supplements, will pay a $2 million civil penalty to settle FTC charges that it violated the terms of a 1995 Commission order by making false and misleading health claims about two of its products. The FTC said the company claimed without substantiation that its products would cause consumers to lose weight or cure a variety of health problems.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/10/nbty.htm
TELEMARKETING PHONY CREDIT CARDS. A group of American and Canadian telemarketers will pay $415,000 to settle FTC charges that they were selling nonexistent credit cards to U.S. consumers. The defendants targeted consumers with poor credit, offering major credit cards with a $2,500 limit for an advance fee of $197 to $300. The telemarketers claimed to have information showing that the consumers recently had been denied credit, and offered the card as a way to improve their credit rating.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/10/sunspectrum.htm
FRAUD AGAINST HISPANICS. The FTC announced five law enforcement actions against scammers targeting Hispanics during a workshop held last month in Los Angeles. The event brought together law enforcement officials, consumer groups, and community leaders to discuss new ways to fight fraud in the Hispanic community. The FTC's cases involved advance-fee credit cards, at-home English-language and auto-mechanic training programs, a medical discount plan, weight-loss products, music CDs, and credit repair services.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/10/losangeles.htm
NEW BUTTONS AND BANNERS. Would you like to link your website to the FTC's consumer publication on prescreened offers of credit and insurance? Placing banners and buttons ("Prescreened Credit Offers...Opt out or check them out?") on your websites will take visitors directly to the FTC's publication on this important subject. You can find them at: www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer/partners.html. If you have questions about the buttons or banners, email Derick Rill at Drill@ftc.gov.
HELPING HAND. Let the FTC help you arm your constituents with practical information to help spot and avoid fraud. To learn more about FTC resources for a town hall meeting on consumer issues, or to get information for constituent meetings, contact Derick Rill at Drill@ftc.gov.
MEDICAL DISCOUNT PLANS? ARE THEY RIGHT FOR YOU? Explains that medical discount plans are different from health insurance and gives consumers tips on how to determine whether medical discount plans meet their medical and financial needs. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/medplanalrt.htm
NEW SPIN ON SWEEPSTAKES SCAMS. Informs consumers of a new scam whereby telemarketers claim they're calling on behalf of the federal government to arrange delivery of sweepstakes winnings. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/sweepsalrt.htm
Under the newly amended bankruptcy law, people must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within six months before filing for bankruptcy protection. A state-by-state list of government-approved credit counseling organizations is at www.usdoj.gov/ust/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm, on the website of the U.S. Trustee Program, the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that administers bankruptcy cases. If you're considering filing for bankruptcy, it's wise to gather information before you act. Get a list of organizations approved by the U.S. Trustee program and call several in your state to gather information. Some key questions to ask before you pick a credit counseling organization:
- What services will you offer and what are your fees?
- Will you help me develop a plan for avoiding problems in the future?
- What if I can't afford to pay the fees?
- What are the qualifications of your counselors -- are they accredited or certified by an outside organization? What training do they receive?
- What do you do to keep information about me (including my address, phone number, and financial information) confidential and secure?
- How are your employees paid? Are they paid more if I sign up for certain services, if I pay a fee, or make a contribution to your organization?
- Suppose I want only the credit counseling services and budget analysis that are required before I can file for bankruptcy relief. How much will these services cost? What services will your company provide? How will I know that I have the correct certificate I need to file for bankruptcy? Does the certificate cost extra? If so, how much?
For more information about the credit counseling requirement, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/banklawalrt.htm
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