FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 6 - Number 7
IN THIS ISSUE
PHONE-Y DEBT COLLECTORS. At the FTC’s request, a federal district court in California has stopped an operation that allegedly victimized Spanish-speaking consumers nationwide by posing as debt collectors and seeking payments the consumers didn’t owe. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants, Tono Records, called consumers repeatedly, threatening them with lawsuits and jail time for not paying phony bills. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/tono.shtm
DENTAL SERVICES FOR NEEDY KIDS. The FTC settled a long-running antitrust suit against the South Carolina Board of Dentistry, which had adopted a rule requiring dentists to examine kids before they could receive basic services from a hygienist. The FTC said the rule actually reduced the number of low income kids receiving preventive dental services under a state public health program, which had been put in place to improve their dental care. As part of the consent, the Board of Dentistry must publicize its support for the state program. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/dentists.shtm
SUING YOUR WILD OATS. The FTC sought to block the merger of Whole Foods and Wild Oats and preserve their unique rivalry as premium natural and organic supermarkets in cities where both companies operate stores. A preliminary injunction motion is before a federal court in Washington, D.C.; the FTC has also filed an administrative complaint in the case. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/wholefoods.shtm
NEW PHISHING SCHEME. The FTC is warning consumers about a new phishing scheme targeting military families: A caller, claiming to work for the Red Cross or other trusted source, notifies an individual that their family member has been injured on duty. They ask to verify personal information, saying it is necessary to get immediate aid to the injured service member. The FTC urges military families members not to give out personal information on the phone -- or by email -- if they're contacted by someone they don't know. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/redcross.shtm
FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE
FTC Chairman Majoras highlighted the Commission’s enforcement actions targeting illegal practices in mortgage and nonmortgage lending, gift card sales, advance-fee credit scams, debt collection practices, credit and debt counseling services, and credit reporting. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/fstest.shtm
At a second hearing, the FTC testified on its continued efforts to improve the accuracy of credit report information and to enhance consumers’ ability to dispute and correct inaccurate information. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/credit.shtm
WAYS AND MEANS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON SOCIAL SECURITY. The FTC testified that to prevent thieves from stealing personal information like Social Security numbers (SSNs) to commit identity theft, government and businesses should collect only information necessary to meet clear legal or business needs, and protect the data they do collect. Authentication techniques also need to be improved. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/socsectest.shtm
TOWN HALL MEETINGS -- IDEAS AND RESOURCES. Friday, July 20th, in the U.S. Capitol (Conference Room HC-8): The FTC and the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host an open house for congressional staff about town hall meetings and other constituent service programs. Representatives from the federal government and private sector will be available to discuss the resources available for use in outreach projects – especially town hall meetings in August. The workshop will be held from 9:30 am to noon. Continental Breakfast will be served. For more information and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The following events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the FTC Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.
CHILDHOOD OBESITY. The FTC and the Department of Health and Human Services will host a forum, "Weighing In: A Check-Up on Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity," to review progress in implementing self-regulatory and educational initiatives to combat childhood obesity. The event begins at 9 am on July 18, 2007. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/06/weighingin.shtm
DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES. The FTC will host a workshop October 10-11 to examine how changes in the debt collection industry have affected consumers and businesses. Consumer advocates, industry representatives, and regulators will discuss how technology and economic trends have changed how consumer debts are collected, and the extent to which the law has kept pace with developments during the past 30 years. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/fdcpawkshop.htm
BOTNETS AND HACKERS AND SPAM (OH, MY!) A consumer alert that explains botnets and how consumers can avoid having their computers invaded by hackers and spammers. 8.5" x 11", 2 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt132.shtm
PROTECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION: A GUIDE FOR BUSINESS (SPANISH). Practical tips for business on creating and implementing a plan for safeguarding personal information. 5.75" x 8.75", 24 pages, color. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/privacy/sbus69.shtm
Alaska is famous for its rugged beauty and the distinctive arts and crafts produced by Alaska Native artists. If you’re considering buying an Alaska Native-made art or craft item, learn about the processes and materials Alaska Natives may use to make these unique and beautiful objects. The FTC has some tips to keep in mind when purchasing Alaska Native-made arts and crafts:
- Get written proof of any claims the seller makes for the authenticity of the art or craft item you're purchasing.
- Ask if your item comes with a certification tag. Not all authentic Alaska Native arts and crafts items carry a state certified tag. Those that do may display a Silver Hand symbol, which features a silver hand and the words, "Authentic Native Handicraft from Alaska." Items also may carry a "Made in Alaska" emblem. This emblem certifies that the article was "made in Alaska," though not necessarily by an Alaska Native.
- Get a receipt that includes vital information about your purchase, including any oral representations. For example, if a salesperson explains the basket you're buying is baleen and ivory, and handmade by an Inupiaq artist, insist the information be on your receipt.
For more tips on identifying Alaska Native-made arts and crafts, visit: www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/products/pro05.shtm.
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