The FTC is on the beat to stop scammers who take advantage of the nation's most financially fragile consumers through deceptive mortgage servicing practices, abusive debt collection tactics, bogus credit repair services, mortgage, tax, and debt relief offers, and fraudulent job and business opportunity schemes. Here are a few examples:
The Commission alleged that First Universal Lending charged struggling homeowners $7,000 in advance fees that brought little or no mortgage relief. In May 2011, the court entered a settlement order that bans the defendants from the mortgage modification business and requires them to pay nearly $19 million in consumer redress.
Through a settlement with Countrywide (now Bank of America), 450,000 homeowners whom the FTC says were charged excessive loan servicing fees received checks worth nearly $108 million. Several months later, Bank of America refunded or reversed charges for $36 million more to resolve allegations that it violated the FTC settlement.
The FTC took action against American Credit Crunchers, a "phantom" payday lender that made millions of collection calls from India demanding payment of "debts" that consumers did not owe. The agency reached settlements with other debt collectors that imposed civil penalties, including one for $2.5 million against Asset Acceptance LLC, which allegedly used deceptive tactics to try to collect old debts, many of which were time-barred.
The Commission shut down several firms that guaranteed government grants (Grant Connect), jobs (National Sales Group), and lucrative work-at-home opportunities (Real Wealth), getting judgments totaling $40.2 million and orders that ban the companies from marketing in these areas. It also permanently stopped United States Benefits LLC, which allegedly took advantage of unemployed, uninsured, and uninsurable people by deceptively marketing "medical discount plans" as comprehensive insurance.