Ask any gardener and they’ll tell you it’s a fool’s errand to lop weeds off at the surface. You also have to target the root system that allows them to propagate in the first place. That’s one of the messages to take from a judgment in the FTC’s case against Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc., and previous actions against data brokers and others who lent their green thumbs to Ideal’s large-scale consumer scam.
Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance
Usually a Top 10 list is something industries are delighted to find themselves on. So we’ll call this one a Flop 10 list, the FTC’s annual report about consumer complaints added in 2015 to the Consumer Sentinel database. How did your industry – and your state – rank in reported complaints?
First, the box score:
If your company is in the business of pretzels or pitchforks, what you’re selling and who you’re selling to may not be a big deal. But if your stock-in-trade is personal information – sensitive stuff like people’s Social Security and bank account numbers – what’s reasonable under the circumstances may be different. That’s the message companies can take from the FTC’s settlement of a pending complaint against data broker LeapLab.
Remember the scene in the movie “Bull Durham” where veteran Crash Davis is prepping rookie Nuke LaLoosh for a TV interview and schools him on clichés about teamwork? “I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help.” They don’t just apply to baseball. Most enterprises rely on help from others on the team. Unfortunately for consumers, that includes questionable outfits that need another company’s help to accept credit cards.
You’ve got lots of needs as a business owner – among them, supplies you rely on from square-dealing vendors. But what if the vendor misleads your staff about the price or quantity of those supplies, hits you with a huge invoice you didn’t authorize, and then tries to pressure you into paying it? Those are just some of the sales tactics the FTC is challenging in recent law enforcement actions.
According to the musical “Grease,” some things go together like “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.” Some other things go together, too. They’re easier to pronounce, but do much more harm to consumers. What do we have in mind?
Bogus weight loss claims and deceptive “free” trial offers.
Take a look at ftc.gov and what’s the first thing we say in the top right and on pretty much every page on the site? File a consumer complaint. Ever wonder where we get those complaints and how we use them?
Why is it your business if identity theft victims can get free personal recovery plans and other help that makes it easier for them to report and recover from identity theft? Here’s an answer: Because it’s good business – for you, your customers, your employees, and your community.
When we announced Operation Collection Protection in November, a federal-state crackdown on illegal debt collection practices, we said it was just the start of a historic partnership – and we weren’t kidding.
2015 saw the end of The Late Show with David Letterman, but his Top 10 List legacy lives on. From the home office in Washington, D.C., here is our informal take on ten topics we covered this year in the BCP Business Blog.
As the song by The Who asks, “Who are you?” When it comes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, many companies think they know who they are. If they’re third-party debt collectors, they’re covered by the FDCPA. If they’re creditors collecting their own debts, they aren’t. But as I mentioned recently in a presentation at an industry event, it’s not that simple.
Law enforcement, education, technology, crowd-sourcing. The FTC fights the battle against illegal telemarketing on every possible front – and here’s the latest development. After considering public comments, the FTC just amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to protect consumers by prying four tools out of the hands of fraudsters.
Whether it was turn-of-the-century conman George C. Parker or Peaches O’Day, Mae West’s character in the movie “Every Day’s a Holiday,” the annals of consumer protection are filled with stories of people attempting to sell the Brooklyn Bridge or other things they don’t own. Announced as part of Operation Collection Protection, a lawsuit filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General alleges a variation on that theme.
One way America offers a well-deserved thanks to veterans is through educational benefits. The FTC, the Department of Veterans Affairs – and taxpayers, of course – share an interest in ensuring that the people who protect us are protected from misleading practices in the marketing of educational services. But what happens when “Support Our Troops” turns into "Thwart Our Troops" in their effort to get accurate information about educational opportunities?
Georgia’s on our mind – and if you have clients in the debt collection industry, it should be on yours, too. That’s because the FTC’s third Debt Collection Dialogue is set for Wednesday, November 18, 2015, in Atlanta. The FTC is hosting the event with the Office of the Georgia AG and Attorney General Sam Olens will set the stage with opening remarks at 1:00 PM.
If there were a Debt Collection Decathlon – and we’re glad there isn’t – National Check Registry would have been a contender. According to the FTC and New York AG, the Buffalo-based debt collector “excelled” in a number of events: the Bogus Lawsuit Vault, the Disclosure of Debt Dash, and the Unauthorized Fee High Jump, to name just a few.
For debt collectors who resort to illegal tactics, it must feel like 110 in the shade because 115 law enforcement actions announced this year by the FTC and local, state, federal, and international partners – including 30 just-filed cases – have turned up the heat on law violators. From Buffalo to San Diego and dozens of jurisdictions in between, companies that flout debt collection standards are feeling the burn.
If you couldn’t make it to Washington to attend the FTC workshop Follow the Lead, watching the webcast is the next best thing – and it starts at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday, October 30, 2015. We’re bringing together industry members, consumer advocates, researchers, law enforcers – and you – to discuss the consumer protection implications of online lead generation.
Two people walk into a deli and both order a pastrami on rye. When the check arrives, one is charged $8. The other is surprised to get a bill for $15.99. That’s not the start of an old Henny Youngman joke. It’s an analogy that raises some of the issues in the FTC’s proposed $2.95 million settlement with Sprint for allegedly charging customers with lower credit scores a monthly fee without giving them the proper up-front notice required by law.
Last year the FTC received 280,998 complaints about questionable debt collection practices. We think consumers and responsible members of the industry can agree that number is higher than it should be. The FTC is fighting that battle on three fronts. We’ve brought dozens of cases – both on our own and with state partners – to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Section 5.