The FTC and Online Trading Academy (OTA) have reached a settlement. The settlement will refund some money and forgive the debts of some people who bought OTA’s training programs. If you are eligible for debt forgiveness, you have about 45 days to tell OTA you want your debt forgiven. (See below for more information about eligibility and an email and letter you will receive). If you are not eligible for debt forgiveness, you do not need to do anything now. Bookmark this page or subscribe for email updates about the OTA settlement.
Here are a few answers to some common questions:
What is this case about?
The FTC recently reached a settlement with Online Trading Academy (OTA). OTA sold training programs costing as much as $50,000. The FTC alleges that the company claimed that anyone who used its patented strategy was likely to make a lot of money trading in the financial markets. The FTC said those claims were false or that OTA had no basis for making those claims.
What does the court order say?
The order says:
- OTA must give up most of their assets so that the FTC can give refunds to some people affected by the scheme.
- OTA must forgive the debts of some people who bought and financed OTA’s training programs (see below to see who is eligible for debt forgiveness).
- OTA must delete the forgiven debts from people’s credit reports within 60 days.
- OTA may not make false or unsubstantiated earnings and related claims.
- OTA may not refer to its salespeople as education counselors and must make it clear that they are paid on commission.
- OTA may not use contracts that stop people from talking to law enforcement agencies about OTA, or that stop people from posting honest reviews online.
Will I get my money back?
The FTC will return as much money as possible to some people who paid for OTA’s training programs. Some people took out financing to pay for the program and other people paid up front. If you took out financing to pay for the program, you may be eligible for debt forgiveness. (See below.) Even if you are not eligible for debt forgiveness, you may get a refund of some of the money you paid. We will know more about refunds after we have heard from people who ask for debt forgiveness.
Who is eligible for debt forgiveness?
People with debt that meets all the following criteria will be eligible for debt forgiveness from OTA:
- the debt is owed to any of the corporate defendants (OTA Franchise Corporation, NEH Services, Inc., or Newport Exchange Holdings, Inc.);
- the debt was incurred to finance the purchase of any of the defendants’ training programs; and
- the debt was incurred before September 14, 2020.
If you owe money to an OTA franchisee or to an organization that is not a corporate defendant, you will not be eligible for debt forgiveness.
If I’m eligible for debt forgiveness, what happens next?
Here’s what happens next:
- By September 21, 2020, the defendants will send a notice to everyone who is eligible for debt forgiveness. They’ll send notice by priority mail and email to the most recent addresses the defendants have.
- If you get this notice and you want to request debt forgiveness, you must email or call OTA, using the information in the letter/email you receive from OTA. You must act within 45 days of the date on the notice. The notice will give you all the details you need to request debt forgiveness.
- If you request debt forgiveness, it is possible you also may be eligible for a refund of money, but you will need to decide whether to request forgiveness before you will know about any possible refund.
- If, once these notices go out, you do not get a notice, you may not be eligible for debt forgiveness.
I think I qualify for debt forgiveness, but I did not receive a notice. How can I let the FTC know?
- If you think you qualify for debt forgiveness, but you did not receive a notice by 5 pm Pacific Time on September 21, please email OTASettlement@ftc.gov and include your name, telephone number, and why you think you qualify for debt forgiveness.
I’m not eligible for debt forgiveness. How much money will I get back?
The amount of money the FTC will refund to people depends on various factors including:
- how much the defendants are able to pay;
- how many people paid OTA for training programs;
- the amount each person paid; and
- how many people request debt forgiveness from OTA.
Sometimes the FTC cannot return money to everyone affected by a scheme, or might be able to return a portion of what someone paid.
When will I get a refund?
We don’t know yet.
The FTC and OTA must first determine how many people ask for debt forgiveness. Once the debt forgiveness amount is clear, the FTC will determine how much money it will be able to refund and to whom. The FTC is committed to move the process as fast as possible, but it could take several more months.
How do I get a refund?
There is nothing for you to do right now unless you are eligible for debt forgiveness (see above for more information about eligibility and an email and letter you will receive). The FTC will update this webpage with new information as soon as it is available.
The FTC will never ask you to pay to get a refund. Do not reply to any emails, calls, or texts telling you to apply now for a refund, or to give personal information. Those are scams.
What if I want to keep participating in OTA’s training programs?
If you request debt forgiveness from OTA, you will not be able to participate in OTA’s programs.
What if I want to keep participating in OTA’s training programs but received a refund under the settlement?
You can continue participating in OTA’s programs even if you get refund or partial refund under the settlement. Only purchasers who request debt forgiveness will not be able to participate in OTA’s programs.
I paid for an OTA training program. How will the FTC know?
The FTC and the defendants will use OTA’s customer database to identify people who paid for OTA training programs. We will use that list for both debt forgiveness notices and potential refunds.
Where can I get more information about the case?
To find out the latest about refunds and debt forgiveness, bookmark this page or subscribe for email updates about the OTA settlement.