Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the FTC staff released a Data Spotlight highlighting the category of scam with the highest amount of reported financial loss among complaint categories the FTC uses to track fraud. The category may surprise, but here’s a hint. In the words of Bon Jovi, these con artists “give love a bad name.”
Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance
Some forms of masquerading are just good clean fun. Consider The Masked Singer, a surprise TV hit in which a panel of celebrities tries to guess the identity of other celebrities who sing karaoke while wearing elaborate disguises. (We’re not making that up. It’s a thing now.) But other forms of masquerading are based in deception, as the FTC alleges in a lawsuit against Global Asset Financial Services Group, LLC, and 15 Buffalo- and Charlotte-based defendants.
Steely Dan may be one of the best duos of the rock era. (Sorry, Donnie and Marie fans.) Their song “Hey Nineteen” reminds us to mention some FTC consumer protection developments that could be of interest to your company or clients in 2019. As “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” when you’re “Reelin’ in the Years” – or at least recapping the past one – consider this non-exhaustive and in-no-particular-order case compilation.
Archeologists report that the first mention of diabetes was in a papyrus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Roll the scroll out a bit and it wouldn’t surprise us to find an ad (in hieroglyphics, of course) for a pill or potion promising a miracle treatment. Questionable diabetes products have been around for centuries and the latest one to attract law enforcement attention is a dietary supplement called Nobetes.
According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, an international network of corporations and individuals put consumers through the wringer with false claims about “free” trial offers, followed by unauthorized charges to their accounts.
Whether it’s a spare can of cranberry sauce or an extra turkey platter, thoughtful Thanksgiving hosts make contingency plans for the holiday. This year, if the dinner discussion veers into controversial territory – like the pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie debate – here’s a suggested topic of conversation you can have at the ready.
If you aren’t familiar with the word “overbiffing,” there’s no need to add it to your vocabulary. But if you know what overbiffing is and engage in it, a case just filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General suggests now would be an excellent time to cut it out.
Imagine a baseball scout is taking a look at a prospect. On paper, the slugger’s batting average seems impressive. But now imagine that, unbeknownst to the scout, those stats left out all the times the batter struck out. It’s an unrealistic hypothetical, of course, but it illustrates the principle that in compiling averages, removing certain categories of data can skew the results.
In the annals of film, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Casablanca are among our top picks. But don’t expect our list to include TBX-FREE, Eupepsia Thin, or Prolongz, dissolving strips of film the FTC says California-based Redwood Scientific deceptively advertised for smoking cessation, weight loss, and male sexual performance.
When people take a moment to report fraud, identity theft, or questionable business practices to the FTC, they’re giving consumers everywhere a “gift” of sorts. We use those reports – we get millions every year – to warn others about the latest scams. They also serve as an important source of information for our law enforcement efforts.
Laidlaw v. Organ was an 1817 Supreme Court case concerning an allegedly deceptive trade practice affecting a small business. You may be surprised to learn who argued that case and why it’s relevant 201 years later.
There’s former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar, NFL legend Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, and the incomparable Sammy Davis, Jr. All notable in their own right, but did they win back $586 million for defrauded consumers? We didn’t think so. That’s why we have another pick for the Sammy Hall of Fame.
For consumers who took out loans with online payday lender AMG, the company’s illegal tactics left many of them saying OMG. But finally there’s good news for AMG customers arriving in the form of $505 million in refund checks just mailed to people who borrowed money between January 2008 through January 2013. That’s the largest amount ever sent in a refund program run by the FTC.
Thanks to a new federal law, free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts are here, starting September 21st. What does that mean for your customers and employees?
Free credit freezes
Security freezes, also known as credit freezes, restrict access to a consumer’s credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in the consumer’s name. Starting September 21st, consumers can freeze and unfreeze their credit file for free. They also can get free freezes for their children.
Court orders against 13 related corporate and individual defendants involved in a Georgia-based debt collection operation bring to mind the 1980s chart-topping group from Australia, Crowded House. That’s because now that Advanced Mediation Group’s enterprise has been shuttered, the FTC’s “house” of individuals and corporations banned for life from the debt collection industry just got a little more crowded.
Whether it’s a slimmer waist or an imaginary yacht superimposed in the background, we’re all familiar with the dramatic changes that retouching can make to a photo. A lawsuit the FTC has filed against Tate’s Auto Group and related companies alleges – among other things – that the defendants substantially “retouched” the financial circumstances of customers trying to finance cars.
When the legendary Patti Page sang, “How much is that doggie in the window?” she couldn’t have guessed that six decades later, the answer might depend on whether a consumer buys or leases a pet.
The scheme started with a Craigslist ad for a rental property and ended with a $5.2 million judgment for violations of the FTC Act, the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Free Annual File Disclosures Rule.
Like the three sides of a triangle, ROSCA – the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act – has three basic compliance requirements for online sellers who enroll consumers in continuity plans, often known as negative options. The law bans online negative options unless the seller: 1) clearly discloses all material terms of the deal before obtaining a consumer’s billing information; 2) gets the consumer’s express informed consent before making the charge; and 3) provides a simple mechanism for stopping recurring charges.
The FTC has been issuing warnings to industry members for years to stay miles away from phantom debt collection – the practice of pressuring people to pay debts they don’t owe. Don’t collect phantom debts. Don’t traffic behind the scenes in questionable portfolios. And definitely don’t buy or sell portfolios known to be bogus.