FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 7 - Number 12
IN THIS ISSUE
PAYDAY LOANS. The FTC and the state of Nevada have charged 10 related Internet payday lenders and their principals with violating federal and state law by not disclosing key loan terms to U.S. consumers and using abusive and deceptive collection tactics. According to the complaint, Cash Today and its affiliated companies are based mainly in the United Kingdom and used websites like www.cash2day4u.com to market loans. They offered consumers loans of up to $500 within 24 hours without requiring a credit check, proof of income, or documentation. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/11/cashtoday.shtm.
DIABETES DECEPTION. The marketers of dietary supplements that purportedly prevented and treated diabetes have settled FTC charges that they engaged in deceptive advertising practices. According to the FTC’s complaint, Glucorell, Inc. and Anafit, Inc., falsely claimed that two dietary supplements, Insulow and Glucorell R, are effective for preventing and treating diabetes. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/11/glucorell.shtm.
DATA SECURITY. A Texas-based mortgage lender has settled FTC charges that it violated federal law by not protecting sensitive customer data. According to the FTC, Premier Capital Lending, Inc. made the data vulnerable by allowing a third-party home seller to access it without taking reasonable steps to protect it. A hacker compromised the data by breaking into the home seller’s computer, obtaining the lender’s credentials, and using them to access hundreds of consumer reports. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/11/pcl.shtm.
SPYWARE. At the FTC’s request, a U.S. District Court has issued a temporary restraining order stopping the sale of RemoteSpy keylogger spyware. According to the FTC’s complaint, CyberSpy Software, LLC sold RemoteSpy to clients and explained how to disguise it as an innocuous file to secretly monitor someone’s computer use. When a user clicked on the file, the keylogger was silently installed in the background and then recorded every keystroke typed, website visited, and image displayed on the screen of a user’s computer. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/11/cyberspy.shtm.
The FTC has released the following reports:
ETHANOL. The U.S. fuel ethanol market remains unconcentrated, with 160 U.S. ethanol producers as of September 2008 and new entries and expansions each year. That’s according to the FTC’s fourth annual report on the state of ethanol production in the U.S. Get the report: www.ftc.gov/os/2008/11/081117ethanolreport.pdf.
PAR FOR THE COURSE. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) compares the FTC’s actual performance against established targets in the agency’s 2006 to 2011 Strategic Plan and its annual Performance Plan. The FY 2008 independent financial audit resulted in the FTC’s twelfth consecutive unqualified opinion, the highest audit opinion available. Get the report: www.ftc.gov/opp/gpra/2008parreport.pdf.
WHO’S CALLING? The Do Not Call report discusses the agency’s efforts to improve the accuracy of the National Do Not Call Registry and describes the new procedure for deleting disconnected and reassigned numbers from the National Registry. Get the report: www.ftc.gov/os/2008/11/P034305dncreport.pdf.
URGE TO MERGE. The 30th Annual Report to Congress Regarding the Hart-Scott-Rodino Premerger Notification Program summarizes FTC and Department of Justice actions under the Act in FY 2007 and implementation since the late 1970s. Get the report: www.ftc.gov/os/2008/11/hsrreportfy2007.pdf.
The following events are free, open to the public and taking place at the FTC’s conference center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry. Pre-registration is not required.
RESALE PRICE MAINTENANCE. A series of workshops to be held between January and March 2009 will explore how best to distinguish between uses of resale price maintenance (RPM) that benefit consumers and those that do not. Comments and requests to participate are due December 12. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/10/rpmwksp.shtm.
FRAUD FORUM. The FTC will host a Fraud Forum February 25 -- 26, 2009: The first day will be open to the public, and will allow law enforcement, consumer advocates, business representatives, and academics to examine the extent of fraud in the economy; how scammers learn the tools of their trade; who is at greatest risk of fraud; and opportunities that exist for improved self-regulatory efforts. The second day will be open to domestic and international law enforcement officials only. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. A live Webcast of the workshop will be available at www.ftc.gov. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/10/fraud.shtm.
BUYING, GIVING, AND USING GIFT CARDS. What to look for when buying and using gift cards, especially the terms and conditions of their use. 8.5"x11", 2 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt010.shtm.
Whether you’re holiday shopping at the mall, online, or by phone or mail, the FTC says that a little planning and know-how can help you deliver a holiday season that’s on budget and maybe even a little less stressful.
- List the people you plan to buy gifts for, the type of gifts you plan to buy, and how much you plan to spend. Include the cost of cash gifts, holiday travel, extra food, wrappings, decorations, greeting cards, and postage. If it relates to the holiday season and it costs money, add it to your budget.
- How do you decide if the deal is real? Shop around. A “sale” price isn’t always the “best” price.
- Regardless of how you pay for your purchases, remember to keep track of your spending. Incidental and impulse purchases add up. Jot down what you spend after every purchase.
- Save your receipts and keep good records.. You need receipts for returns and exchanges. Check credit and debit card sales and return receipts against your monthly bills and statements, and report any problems to the credit card issuer promptly. Ask for gift receipts.
- Ask about refund and return policies. Many merchants may have different refund and return policies for sale items.
- Layaways are not credit purchases. When you use layaway, you typically make a deposit — usually a percentage of the purchase price — and pay over time until you have paid for the item in full. In exchange, the retailer holds the merchandise for you.
To avoid problems, get the store’s layaway policy in writing: how much time you have to pay for the merchandise; when your payments are due; the minimum payment required; and possible charges, like a service fee, for using the plan. Find out if there is a fee or a penalty for missed or late payments: Will your contract be cancelled? Will the merchandise be returned to the sales floor? Ask about the refund policy: If you decide you don’t want the merchandise after you’ve made some payments, can you get a refund? Some retailers may give you all your money back; others may charge a non-refundable service fee; and still others may offer a store credit for the amount you paid.
To get more tips on making the most of your holiday shopping, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/consumer/alerts/alt082.shtm.
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