As the name suggests, Green Tree Servicing was supposed to service homeowners’ mortgages by collecting and crediting monthly payments. But according to a $63 million settlement announced by the FTC and CFPB, rather than service, Green Tree gave many homeowners the business.
- $642.4 million in redress and disgorgement ordered in consumer protection cases.
- 2,582,851 complaints received from consumers.
- 192 orders obtained.
Those are just a few of the crunchable numbers in the FTC’s 2014 Annual Highlights.
Like juggling chain saws or using a Ming vase as a sippy cup, some things are just too risky to be reasonable. Here’s one to add to that list: posting unencrypted financial information about 55,000 consumers on a website available to anyone with an internet connection.
If you’re active in affiliate marketing, a summary judgment ruling by a United States District Court offers additional support for the conclusion that “Who, me?” isn’t likely to be a persuasive defense to allegations of deception. As a result of the holding, affiliate marketing network LeadClick Media and its parent company, CoreLogic, have to turn over a total of $11.9 million in ill-gotten gains.
When playing hide and seek as a child, remember those kids who always seemed to find that hidden crawl space or cranny? Whatever happened to them? Let’s hope they didn’t grow up to go into advertising since current marketing methods offer lots of ways for companies to hide important terms and conditions. The FTC's proposed settlement with Network Solutions illustrates a few examples.
Does your company participate in the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework? It’s a voluntary international privacy program administered by the Department of Commerce that lets companies transfer data from the EU to the U.S. in compliance with EU law. Of course, data security and privacy are everyday obligations for companies, but are you honoring one particular once-a-year provision? And what about promises you make regarding how you resolve consumer disputes?
Call me (call me) on the line.
Call me, call me any, anytime.
We were big Blondie fans, but if the lyrics of “Call Me” are any indication, they’re not the best source of information about complying with the Do Not Call and robocall provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. So we’re turning to FTC attorney Bikram Bandy to get answers to questions that businesses are asking.
If you handle personnel matters for your company, Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know should be on your desk. The joint FTC-EEOC publication offers dos and don’ts for businesses when looking into the background of prospective employees or current staff up for promotion, retention, transfer, etc. But if it’s time for a compliance double-check, the FTC just issued a new brochure that could serve as a cross-reference.
For companies that follow what’s going on at the FTC, a letter with the agency seal signed by “FTC Director Jessica Rich” might attract attention. But there’s one letter that claims to be from the FTC that we suggest you ignore.
That’s because the sender says you’ve won a sweepstakes and Jessica Rich of the FTC will help you claim the cash – after you pay a $5,000 “Legal Registration Bond,” of course.
What’s truthful about those letters? There is a person at the FTC named Jessica Rich. As it happens, she heads up the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
What do mystery writers, magicians, and some small business scammers have in common? The art of misdirection. But when it comes to small business scammers, we’re on to their tricks. Today the FTC announced that, at its request, a federal court stopped yellow page scammers that were targeting businesses all over the U.S. with a series of ploys. According to the FTC, this is how it worked.
When it comes to car advertising, truth should be standard equipment. That’s the message of Operation Ruse Control, a coast-to-coast and cross-border sweep by the FTC and state, federal, and international law enforcers aimed at driving out deception in automobile ads, adds-ons, financing, and auto loan modification services. The FTC cases offer 6 tips to help keep your promotions in the proper lane.
Every company takes a different approach to how it collects, maintains, and shares consumers’ personal information. Companies that want to do right by their customers are careful to explain how they handle that data. That way, consumers will know how their data will be treated.
But what happens when a company changes owners or merges with another entity? Do the representations the company made to consumers before a merger about how their information will be used apply after the merger? Are there limits on how it can be used and shared?
The FTC keeps its finger on the pulse of markets, channeling its resources to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices involving new technologies. A few years ago, we created the Mobile Technology Unit to help bring consumer protection into the mobile era. Staffers assist the Bureau of Consumer Protection and FTC regions with law enforcement investigations and lend their expertise to the development of consumer protection policy.
If your company offers warranties, a proposed FTC settlement with BMW of North America’s MINI Division suggests that a compliance check-up could be warranted.
The desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone and wireless wearable. Perhaps the only device we used yesterday that wasn’t connected to the internet was the crockpot. And it may know more than it’s telling.
“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?” Elvis Costello asked that musical question back in the day. The Memorandum of Understanding between the FTC and CFPB – which the two agencies just reauthorized for a three-year period – shows that when it comes to protecting consumers, ensuring a vibrant marketplace for financial products and services, and using resources efficiently, we're in harmony.
Have you seen the ads where a popular celebrity touts DIRECTV on his own behalf and as the Painfully Awkward, Overly Paranoid, or Crazy Hairy version of himself? Applying that to a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, there’s DIRECTV – and then there’s Deceptively Advertised DIRECTV.
If your company transfers consumer data from the European Union to the U.S., you’ll want to know about the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Program, a voluntary international privacy framework that lets companies transfer data from the EU to the U.S. in a way that complies with EU law.
If you watch as much TV as we do, you may have been tempted to reach for the phone to order the Snuggie, that blanket with sleeves for couch potatoes; Forever Comfy, the answer to rump-sprung chairs; or a host of other items sold by New York-based Allstar Marketing Group. And if one Magic Mesh, Cat's Meow, Roto Punch, or Perfect Tortilla wasn’t enough, the ads reeled buyers in with a “double the offer” buy-one-get-one-free promotion the FTC and New York Attorney General said was misleading.