Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance

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Collection deception

On classic episodes of the Tonight Show, affable sidekick Ed McMahon sought guidance from Johnny Carson's all-knowing Carnac character.  But as demonstrated by a recent FTC law enforcement action — which involved a company's misleading reference to the late Mr. McMahon — you don't need a psychic to know that challenging deceptive debt collection practices remains a top priority.

Paper, Plastic . . . or Mobile? FTC announces agenda for April 26th workshop

Mobile devices are changing how people go about their daily lives, and that includes how they pay for stuff. As announced in January, the FTC is hosting a workshop on April 26, 2012, to examine the use of mobile payments in the marketplace and their effects on consumers. The workshop — which will be held at the FTC’s Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. — is free and open to the public.  The agenda is now available.

Financial literacy makes good business $en$e

Imagine for a moment your ideal customer.  They consider their choices carefully before buying.  They keep their accounts current.  When service is top-notch, they spread the word to friends and family.  If there’s a glitch, they give you a chance to correct the problem before posting thumbs-down reviews.  Now imagine you could “create” your own cadre of contented customers.  Fantasy Land?  It’s more real than you might imagine.

2LEGIT2QUIT?

Last week saw FTC announcements involving allegations of foreclosure rescue fraud, deception aimed at people trying to resell their timeshares, complaints against payday lenders, and lawsuits against outfits claiming to help consumers behind on their car payments.  Is there a theme here?  You bet.  But the message isn't just for companies engaged in practices targeting consumers struggling to stay afloat.  There are words to the wise for businesses of any size and every stripe.

Auto loan modifications? Take note.

Tough federal and state law enforcement has turned up the heat on mortgage foreclosure rescue scams.  So some operators are turning to auto loan modifications to make a fast buck on consumers in financial distress.  In the first cases of their kind filed by the FTC, the agency is alleging that two unrelated California outfits charged hundreds of dollars in upfront fees, based on bogus claims they could reduce consumers’ monthly car notes and help them avoid The Repo Man.

Payday dismay

Take the case of one person who borrowed money from a payday loan operation the FTC has taken to court for allegedly illegal practices.  According to the FTC, the consumer was told that a $500 loan would cost him $650 to repay.  But by slicing and dicing repayments in a way that generated undisclosed fees, the defendants allegedly tried to charge him $1,925 to pay off the $500 loan — and threatened him with arrest when he balked.

FTC to auto dealers: Back up your ad claims

If you have clients in the auto industry, you’ve seen the ads:  “We’ll pay off your trade no matter what you owe . . . even if you’re upside down.” It’s an attractive claim to people struggling with their finances. But law enforcement settlements announced by the FTC with five dealers from around the country demonstrate the importance of giving people the straight story when making promises about trade-ins where negative equity is involved.

Jurisdiction fiction?

South Dakota can be lovely this time of year, but consumers struggling financially shouldn’t have to travel there to respond to actions filed against them in a tribal court that doesn’t have jurisdiction over their case. That’s what the FTC has alleged in its amended complaint against Payday Financial, LLC, a company that pitches its short-term, high-fee loans in TV ads and online.

Card tricks?

In the market for a $430 case of shower caps or some “dolphin shaped craft embellishments”? Have they got a deal for you! But for people who thought they were paying $99 up front and $19 a month for a credit card, all they got was access to the defendants’ online store, which sold bulk quantities of off-brand, overpriced items.

Watch what you're doing with time-barred debts

Of course, people are responsible for their debts.  However, at a certain point, how much time has passed becomes an affirmative defense under state law and creditors can’t prevail in court.  But what happens if a payment is made on a time-barred debt?  A consumer can really get clocked — because in many states the debt can be revived if a person makes a payment or says in writing that they intend to.  The FTC has announced a $2.5 million settlement with Asset Acceptance, LLC, for allegedly breaking the law in how it tried to collect

Paper, Plastic . . . or Mobile?

How consumers pay for things is changing.  Pretty soon exasperated parents may start reminding kids that “mobile payments don’t grow on trees.” And if there’s a remake of “Jerry McGuire,” the sports agent may yell to his client “Show me the mobile payment!”

Looking forward to a long and productive relationship

Last Friday, the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau signed a memorandum of understanding outlining how the agencies will work together.  The CFPB — born out of the recent financial system overhaul — and the FTC now share responsibility for protecting consumers in the non-bank financial sector.

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