FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 5 - Number 2
IN THIS ISSUE
DATA SECURITY. Consumer data broker ChoicePoint, Inc., will pay $10 million in civil penalties and $5 million in consumer redress to settle FTC charges that its security and record-handling procedures violated consumers’ privacy rights and federal laws. The settlement requires ChoicePoint to implement new procedures to ensure it provides consumer reports only to legitimate businesses for lawful purposes, to establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program, and to obtain audits by an independent third-party security professional every other year until 2026. Last year Choicepoint acknowledged that the personal financial records of more than 163,000 consumers in its database had been compromised, resulting in 800 cases of identity theft. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/01/choicepoint.htm
AND THE WINNER IS... The FTC has released its annual report detailing consumer complaints about fraud and identity theft for the past year. In 2005, identity theft complaints topped the list and represented 37 percent of the 686,683 complaints filed. Other top categories of the 2005 fraud complaints include: Internet Auctions (12%), Foreign Money Offers (8%), Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales (8%) and Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries (7%). Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/01/topten.htm.
REDRESS FOR DECEPTIVE CREDIT COUNSELING. The FTC has announced settlement of the largest case the agency has brought against a deceptive credit counseling and debt management operation. The agreement, if approved by a federal court in Maryland, would require Andres Pukke, the defendant, to give up virtually all his assets for a consumer redress program for victims of the deception, a fund that ultimately could total as much as $35 million. Pukke founded Ameridebt, Inc., and owned Debtworks, Inc., a related company. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/01/andrispukke.htm
MORE REDRESS. A telemarketing operation selling tooth whitening kits and weight-loss patches will pay $463,000 in consumer redress and $11,000 in civil penalties to settle FTC charges that the defendants promised “free” samples of the tooth whitening kits, debited consumers’ accounts without authorization, made false and unsubstantiated claims about their weight-loss patches and called consumers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/01/conversionmarketing.htm
INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY SCAMS. Explains how scam operators use the phone and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries. Offers guidance for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery. (8.5x11, 1 pages, B&W) www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt022.shtm
¡OJO! FTC RESOURCES FOR HISPANIC COMMUNITIES. New edition of bilingual Hispanic outreach newsletter that provides consumer tips, news about FTC actions against scammers targeting Hispanics and information about the FTC’s efforts to reach out to Hispanic communities. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/newsletter/ojo/0201.pdf
NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK (NCPW)
NAME OF THE GAME. Every year, a group of federal, state and local government agencies, and national consumer advocacy groups sponsor NCPW. "Consumer Protection: It's the Name of the Game" is the theme of the 8th NCPW, February 5-11, 2006. The NCPW website, www.consumer.gov/ncpw, features the Grand Scam Challenge, a series of interactive games and quizzes to help consumers boost their marketplace savvy. The site also features an Outreach Toolkit with sample promotional items -- press release, letter to the editor, newsletter insert, web buttons and banners, poster and graphics -- to use in consumer education events during NCPW and through the rest of the year. For more information, contact Derick Rill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCPW INFO FAIR ON HILL. To celebrate NCPW, the Senate Special Committee on Aging, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the FTC are holding an Information Fair on Feb 10 from 9 to 11:30am in Senate building Russell 385. Check out the information and exhibits from the US Postal Service, USPIS, FTC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Citizen Information Center, National Consumers League, the Embassy of Canada and others. Use the NCPW information for constituent mailings and events all year long, and to post on your Member's website, distribute at county fairs, and develop presentations for town hall meetings in your community. Light refreshments served. For more information, please contact Derick Rill at email@example.com.
In its annual report detailing consumer complaints about fraud and identity theft, the FTC collected more than 255,000 identity theft complaints, 37 percent of all the complaints the agency collected during 2005. To help consumers learn how to protect themselves and minimize their risk of identity theft, the FTC, other federal agencies and the technology industry developed http://onguardonline.gov, a website which provides practical tips to help consumers be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal information. Onguardonline.gov features a new identity theft quiz, Identity Theft FaceOff, to help consumers test their knowledge about protecting their personal information and responding if their identity is stolen. The quizasks questions about getting a free credit report, using 'smart' passwords, taking the right steps after an identity theft incident, and other topics. Identity Theft FaceOff is at http://onguardonline.gov/quiz/idtheft_quiz.html
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