Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance

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Closed encounters of the third kind

Savvy executives like to stay in the loop on FTC activities that could affect their industry.   They make it a habit to scan the headlines or check for relevant workshops or reports.  But there’s a third category of information a bit less understood: closing letters from BCP staff.

In the spirit of transparency, the agency posts them online.  Here in the BCP Business Center, recent letters appear in the Compliance Documents section of each topic area.

Handle with care

If there were a master list of topics that need to be addressed gingerly, death and debt would rank at the top.  For debt collectors attempting to collect the debts of a deceased consumer, a recent policy statement issued by the FTC addresses changes in state probate procedures and emphasizes debt collectors’ obligation to make sure they’re acting within the law.

Swish Marketing decision nets consumers $4.8 million

Thinking about using a pre-checked box to obligate buyers in an online transaction?  Maybe you’re considering a negative option arrangement without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the details of the deal.  Or perhaps you’re an affiliate marketer who’s concluded that legal compliance is somebody else’s responsibility.  A $4.8 million judgment entered by a federal court in California suggests you might want to reconsider those strategies.

Demystifying the art of the deal

As businesses executives have noticed, recent changes in the credit laws reflect a move toward more transparency. For example, it’s generally lawful to factor a consumer’s credit history into your decision about what rate to offer them. But last year, the FTC and Federal Reserve Board shed a little more light on that process by implementing the Risk-Based Pricing Rule.

$108 million for homeowners in distress

Homeowners in financial trouble aren’t getting a lot of great news these days.  But 450,177 of them will be getting a check in the mail that represents their share of the FTC’s $108 million settlement with mortgage giant Countrywide. And companies that take advantage of Americans struggling to pay the bills will be getting a little something, too:  a strong message from the FTC that unfair or deceptive practices targeting cash-strapped consumers won’t be tolerated.

Accounts deceivable

Perhaps you see cops on the beat when they pass by your office. Maybe you serve on a committee with the Chief of Police or have a relative in the Sheriff’s Department. However you cross paths with local law enforcement, do them — and yourself — a favor by telling them about Consumer Sentinel.

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.

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