Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance

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Modifying the orbit of MARS, but not protections for consumers

Today, the FTC announced it won't enforce most parts of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule against real estate brokers and their agents who help consumers with short sales. A short sale — a phrase consumers have heard a lot recently — is the sale of a home for less than the homeowner owes on the mortgage, and where the bank accepts the sale proceeds instead of foreclosing.

Room with review

Is your briefcase feeling lighter? That’s because your dog-eared copy of Volume 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations (where most FTC rules and guides live) is decidedly thinner these days. For the past two decades, the agency has undertaken a systematic review of its rules and guides to make sure they’re up to date, effective, and not overly burdensome. As each rule comes up for review, we ask ourselves — and you — four questions:

Free means free, says the FTC

You can swim freestyle.  You can work freelance.  And there are those among us who still hold up lighters and yell “Play Free Bird.”  But for marketers, one thing you can’t do is advertise a product as free and then bill customers’ credit cards — not once and certainly not over and over and over again.

Missed myths

But wait!  There's more!  In addition to the myths about the rulemaking process in the last post, others have suggested misconceptions to include on the list.

“Let the lawyers handle the comments.”  Not necessarily.  Legal perspectives add to the conversation, of course, but just about every FTC staffer who’s worked on a rulemaking has a story to tell about a practical point raised by a business person or consumer that led to a change in the final rule.

Six myths about filing comments with the FTC

You’ve seen the sentence when the FTC announces that it’s thinking about putting a new rule in place or changing what’s already on the books: “Interested parties are invited to submit comments. . . .”.  The alphabet soup of the administrative process can be a bit daunting at first: ANPR (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), FRN (Federal Register Notice), CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), SBP (Statement of Basis and Purpose). When it comes to the rulemaking process at the FTC, here are six common myths — and the straight scoop.

Debt Collection 2.0

Cell phones, email, social media, auto-dialers, databases, and payment portals.  This ain’t your Father’s debt collection business.  That’s why an April 28, 2011, FTC workshop, Debt Collection 2.0:  Protecting Consumers as Technologies Change, will focus on the impact developments like these are having on the consumer debt collection system.  As the agenda shows, the conversation will center on how technologies affect debt collectors’ compliance with the law and the consumer protection concerns these new methods

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

Do you work in the motor vehicle industry or follow what’s going on in that sector?  Then today’s announcement from the FTC about a series of workshops on consumer protection issues related to the sale, financing, and leasing of cars, SUVs, and light trucks is right up your alley.  The first roundtable, set for April 12th at Wayne State Law School in Detroit, is free and open to the public.  And what better place to rev up a discussion about motor vehicles than in the Motor City?

NCP Double-YOU

Break out the bubbly and raise a toast:  It's National Consumer Protection Week.  NCPW is an annual campaign sponsored by the FTC and nearly 30 other federal agencies, consumer groups, and advocacy organizations, in conjunction with state, county, and local government offices that are sponsoring events nationwide.  The goal?  To encourage consumers to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.

Upfront fees for mortgage relief services are history

America’s homeowners just gained new protections.  While parts of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Service (MARS) Rule requiring disclosures in advertising and other communications went into effect on December 29, 2010, the ban on upfront fees kicked in on January 31st.  Now, companies that claim to help consumers avoid foreclosure or modify their loans can’t collect a penny until they get their customers what they want.

Forum on fighting phone bill ills

It may have happened to you.  You open the monthly phone bill at your business or at home and find charges for goods or services you never ordered.  It’s called cramming — and it’s illegal.

The FTC has brought numerous law enforcement actions against companies who “cram” unauthorized charges onto people’s phone bills.  This $38 million judgment entered by a federal court in California is just one example, but what more can be done to prevent it?

Data Security: Copi-er That!

If your company keeps sensitive data like Social Security numbers, credit reports, account numbers, health records, or business secrets, you’ve probably instituted safeguards to protect that information, whether it’s stored in computers or on paper. That’s great.  But it’s time to take those safeguards a step further.

ID-ylls of the Ring: FTC rethinks TSR’s Caller ID provisions

When the FTC amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2003, it required telemarketers to transmit Caller ID information.  That policy had three benefits.  It promoted privacy by allowing people to screen out unwanted telemarketing calls.  It increased industry accountability by making it harder for companies to remain anonymous.  And it helped law enforcement by making it easier to identify fraudsters and companies who violated the Do Not Call Registry.

It's in the cards

The hot present this holiday season is plastic: gift cards from popular online and brick-and-mortar retailers. But this year’s cards come wrapped in important new protections for people who buy and use them.

Second Largest Debt Collection Civil Penalty in FTC History – and New Compliance Resource for Business

The FTC’s recent settlement with Allied Interstate, one of the nation’s largest debt collectors, sends a timely reminder to industry members to comply with the law – and an important message to consumers that the FTC has their back when it comes to companies that cross the line.

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