FTC Blogs

In-app and unapproved: FTC says Amazon charged parents' accounts without their OK

If there’s one theme that runs through decades of FTC law, it’s that companies need consumers’ informed consent to bill their accounts. That was true in the early days of mail order. It carried through to online shopping. And it remains the law for mobile devices, including in-app purchases. The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges the company didn’t honor that elementary principle.

Playing with Fire

Ready for a discussion that’s likely to upset the whole family? First, explain these concepts to your four-year-old: online shopping accounts that are linked to your credit card, unlimited in-app charges, and store policies that state all sales final. Then, explain how the virtual coins your child uses in a game can cost real money charged instantly to your account. Sounds like fun, right? The experience has been anything but fun for parents whose children racked up hundreds of dollars playing “free” games on the Kindle Fire.

Military consumers: Salutes to you!

Frequent relocation, separation from family and friends, the stresses of deployment and a steady paycheck from Uncle Sam can make military households an attractive target for scam artists. That’s why the Department of Defense, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Servicemember Affairs, and Military Saves have joined to sponsor Military Consumer — a campaign to empower military and veteran communities with tips and tools to be informed consumers. 

A new kind of low

We’ve written about notarios and scams in the immigration process time and time and time again. The story is nearly always along these lines: Person needs immigration help. Person finds “help” from someone claiming to be qualified – a notario, for example. Person loses a whole lot of money – and possibly the chance to immigrate – because the notario charged them but did nothing. Or charged them and did everything wrong. Unfortunately, it’s a story we hear often from legal services, attorneys general, other federal agencies, and community partners across the country.

Who profits from cramming? FTC challenges T-Mobile's role in bogus billing

It was an all-too-common occurrence.  People’s mobile phone bills included unexplained – and unauthorized – monthly charges.  It’s called cramming and the FTC has brought a series of cases against companies that had fees for ringtones, horoscopes, “love tips,” etc., placed on cell phone bills without consumers’ consent.  The crammers took a chunk of the cash, but you might be surprised to learn who the FTC says pocketed a 35-40% piece of the action.  A just-filed lawsuit pulls back the curtain on

Is that debt collector for real?

It’s stressful enough getting calls from debt collectors for bills you actually owe. But if you’ve ever been harassed and threatened for debts you’ve never even heard about, let alone accrued, it can be downright harrowing – and quite possibly illegal. Today, the FTC announced that a U.S. district court has temporarily halted a Georgia-based operation from using deception and threats to collect millions in phantom payday loan “debts.”  The FTC says Williams, Scott & Associates and company president John Williams lied and threatened people to pay on debts they didn’t owe – or debts the company didn’t have the authority to collect.

Driving a deal on a used set of wheels

With the average price of a new car idling at over $31,000, you might be thinking about buying used. After all, the average price for a used car from a dealership is about $18,000. You can buy used cars through a variety of commercial outlets: franchise and independent dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, used car superstores, and online. Of course, you can buy directly from an individual, too, but that route comes with limited consumer protections. Here are a few tips from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency.