When the financial future of millions of Americans is at stake, it’s important for the FTC to use every tool at its disposal to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair conduct. The FTC just announced the revitalized use of an existing method to hold companies accountable by imposing financial penalties for illegal acts.
Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance
It’s exciting to see so many “open” signs appearing in store windows across the country. But some companies making the transition to an in-person workplace may find themselves in a short-term cash flow crunch. Even before the pandemic, the FTC raised concerns about deceptive practices related to small business financing. With many companies working to regain their footing, the FTC has tips on protecting yourself when looking for financing.
As the fast-talking talent scout said in a hundred Hollywood classics, “I’m gonna put you in the movies!” MoviePass promised to put consumers in the movies – or at least in movie theaters – with its $9.95 per month “one movie per day” subscription plan.
The FTC takes a practical approach to its mission of protecting America’s consumers. That typically means law enforcement actions to challenge companies’ unfair or deceptive acts or practices. But depending on the facts, we may supplement law enforcement with other methods, including consumer education, business guidance, warning letters, national workshops, reports, and – in limited circumstances – staff closing letters.
Like the fighter pilots in the 80s action flick “Top Gun,” consumers selecting among internet service providers “feel the need – the need for speed.” In a just-filed lawsuit, the FTC and seven law enforcement partners allege that ISP Frontier Communications Corporation has made misleading representations that it would provide consumers with certain internet service speeds.
Thinking about adding cryptocurrency to your investment portfolio? The number of Americans investing in cryptocurrency has increased. But as a new FTC Consumer Protection Data Spotlight suggests, the number who report getting stung by cryptocurrency investment scams has skyrocketed.
There’s a certain irony in the FTC’s record-setting $20 million settlement with Vivint Smart Home, a national seller of smart home technology platforms, including security devices and monitoring services. One purpose of the company’s products is to help residents ensure that people at their front door are who they say they are. But according to the FTC, Vivint engaged in some identity deception of its own.
Yellowstone – the majestic national park – is known for Old Faithful, roaming bison, and vistas to take your breath away. According to a 2020 FTC complaint, Yellowstone – the merchant cash advance provider – was unfaithful to its promises, buffaloed small business owners, and made illegal withdrawals that took their cash away. A settlement will return more than $9.8 million to customers and includes injunctive provisions to change how Yellowstone does business.
The FTC’s long-standing Holder Rule requires businesses to include a special notice in credit contracts that gives consumers certain protections. Today, a Staff Note reiterates the Commission’s determination that the Rule applies regardless of the size of the transaction – and corrects some staff guidelines published in 1976.
Have you marked your calendar for April 29, 2021, to attend Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop? The virtual event will examine digital “dark patterns,” potentially deceptive or unfair user interfaces on websites and mobile apps. In addition to your participation, the FTC is asking for research and public comments on topics related to the workshop.
Equal access to credit based on non-discriminatory criteria is an essential component of economic opportunity and a fair marketplace. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from denying credit based on a host of discriminatory criteria, including race, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, etc.
This time last year, we all were adjusting to a new normal. As the pandemic took hold, the FTC kicked into high gear on COVID-19-related issues, while continuing its work on other fronts, too. The just-announced 2020 Annual Highlights reflect important enforcement actions, policy initiatives, and outreach efforts undertaken in the past year.
Misleading tactics in the sale of magazine subscriptions is an illegal practice the FTC has challenged in numerous cases. But an action just filed by the FTC and the State of Florida focuses on a new audience allegedly targeted for deception: the families of people who are incarcerated and inmates themselves. The pending case also suggests compliance reminders that apply to companies in just about any industry.
It’s like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. Our hero enters a cave in search of treasure and every labyrinthine turn poses another unexpected hazard – trip-wired blades, runaway boulders, and snakes (“I hate snakes”). But we’re not talking about a rollicking adventure flick. We’re describing the experience of many online shoppers as they navigate some companies’ websites to avoid digital danger – for example, extra items showing up in a consumer’s cart, unauthorized charges, or the unintended disclosure of personal information.
How many reports did the Consumer Sentinel Network receive in 2020? What percentage of those related to fraud? And what was the most common scam that people reported? The answers: 4.7 million, 46%, and imposter scams.
Among the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, add a higher risk of identity theft to the mix. In the past year, we had about 1.4 million reports of identity theft, double the number from 2019. Repeatedly, identity thieves targeted government funds earmarked to help individuals and small businesses hard hit financially by the pandemic. Find out about identity theft in the age of COVID-19.
Today we are announcing another enforcement action seeking to hold companies responsible for consumer injury caused by others or in which they directly participated in the misconduct. In this action against Seed Consulting, we allege, among other things, that Seed assisted and facilitated several deceptive schemes that cheated consumers out of thousands of dollars.
For people who were looking to run their own businesses, the lesson of the FTC’s proposed $2.1 million proposed settlement with Las Vegas-based Seed Consulting, LLC, is that neither their future nor their fortune was in the cards – credit cards, that is. The defendants’ modus operandi was to file falsified credit card applications in consumers’ names – a service for which they charged a hefty fee – so that consumers could use those lines of credit to pay for “business seminars” offered by third-party outfits with whom Seed Consulting was in cahoots.