Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Finance

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4 tips businesses can take from the FTC’s $19+ million Google settlement

The polar bears and penguins sold within kids’ apps offered in the Google Play Store may have been virtual, but the unauthorized charges Moms and Dads got stuck with were all too real.  A proposed FTC settlement will refund at least $19 million to parents whose accounts were charged illegally, according to the complaint, and will implement enforceable changes in how Google handles in-app purchases.  Of course, the order applies just to Google, but the case of

Hunting the wily CROA-codile

They’re dangerous, they strike fast, and they rely on camouflage to ambush their prey. We call them CROA-codiles – companies that lure cash-strapped consumers in with false promises of debt relief and credit repair, in violation of the FTC Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). According to a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, the defendants added to the injury by claiming a bogus affiliation with federal agencies – and the President.

Debt collection double feature

The 2011 science fiction movie “The Adjustment Bureau” dealt with a dystopian future (Is there any other kind in sci-fi movies?) where mysterious forces plot against individuals. But for many consumers, Regional Adjustment Bureau, a Memphis-based debt collector, made their day-to-day reality just as dystopic.

Acc-cen-tuate the negative?

Acc-cen-tuate the positive.
Eliminate the negative.
Latch on to the affirmative.
And don't mess with Mr. In-Between.

That's how the catchy Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters number went in the 40s. When it comes to negative options now, the message for marketers is to explain things positively.

This time it's personal

Ask most people to name the streets in the neighborhood where they grew up and they’ll tell you Maple Lane or Sycamore Drive. Ask a military kid – ask this military kid – and she’ll mention Tank Destroyer Boulevard and Hell on Wheels Avenue. Years ago, if you drove down Tank Destroyer and exited the East Gate of Fort Hood, the neon signs advertising “zero down,” “E-Z credit,” or “low monthly payments” lit up the Central Texas sky like a discount aurora borealis.

In-app and unapproved: FTC says Amazon charged parents' accounts without their OK

If there’s one theme that runs through decades of FTC law, it’s that companies need consumers’ informed consent to bill their accounts. That was true in the early days of mail order. It carried through to online shopping. And it remains the law for mobile devices, including in-app purchases. The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges the company didn’t honor that elementary principle.

Who profits from cramming? FTC challenges T-Mobile's role in bogus billing

It was an all-too-common occurrence.  People’s mobile phone bills included unexplained – and unauthorized – monthly charges.  It’s called cramming and the FTC has brought a series of cases against companies that had fees for ringtones, horoscopes, “love tips,” etc., placed on cell phone bills without consumers’ consent.  The crammers took a chunk of the cash, but you might be surprised to learn who the FTC says pocketed a 35-40% piece of the action.  A just-filed lawsuit pulls back the curtain on

False statements to credit bureaus: Nothing to CROA 'bout

It’s called CROA – the Credit Repair Organizations Act – and it was put in place to protect people battling their way back from financial adversity.  Given the long history of questionable practices in this sector, CROA makes it illegal to charge people upfront before services are rendered.  It also bans misleading statements to credit bureaus about consumers’ credit records.  There’s been lots of talk about the harm posed by false negative information in credit reports.  But in an interesting twist,

Write your own headline

If you follow this blog, you know we try to catch readers’ eye with a turn of phrase in the title.  But when one of the defendant companies is named Bullroarer – and the FTC’s complaint alleges a massive mobile cramming scam – sometimes these posts just write themselves.  The settlement with Lin Miao, who ran the operation, is worth the attention of tech entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with the breadth of remedies available to protect consumers.

Deceptive mortgage ads hit close to home

The headline read ZIP.  ZERO.  NADA.  In big print, the ads also said 0 money down* and 0 for paid closing costs*.  Heritage Homes didn’t include ZILCH, BUPKES, or (for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans) THE BIG GOOSE EGG, but the FTC says the meaning to prospective buyers was clear.  So how much truth was in that across-the-board “zero” claim?   According to the FTC’s complaint:  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.

Hat trick? FTC charges violations in auto loan servicing, debt collection, credit reporting

Sometimes good things come in threes, like Musketeers, Bronte sisters, and Stooges.  (Shemp doesn’t count.)  But the FTC’s complaint against Consumer Portfolio Services charges the company with three distinct sets of violations – unlawful auto loan servicing, illegal debt collection, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Furnisher Rule – all of which spelled triple trouble for consumers.  But there’s relief on the way in the form of a

What’s a 4-letter word for “FTC advice for derelict debt collectors”?

We like solving puzzles – from crosswords and anagrams to that byzantine conspiracy wall constructed by Claire Danes' character on "Homeland."  So it doesn't faze FTC staff when companies use complicated corporate structures to hide what they're up to.  Those skills came in handy in unraveling how debt collector Asset & Capital Management Group and its host of related businesses were violating Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  The prize for untangling this puzzle:

Not another lawyer joke

We try to keep a sense of humor about lawyer jokes, but given the harm to consumers, it's no laughing matter when debt collectors mimic attorneys.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the FTC Act establish that it's illegal for debt collectors to falsely claim to be attorneys or to suggest a bogus connection to law enforcement.  An FTC settlement with an outfit called Goldman Schwartz and related companies puts the whole kit and kaboodle out of

What would your employees do?

The Business Blog reflects sources some might describe as, well, eclectic – everything from Supreme Court jurisprudence to 80s TV.  But today’s post comes from a message on a neighborhood listerv in Washington, D.C.  It starts with a scam, but ends on a note that should be of interest to retailers.

Cram doesn't pay

Cramming unauthorized charges onto phone bills violates the FTC Act, of course.  But depending on the circumstances, cases like that also can result in criminal prosecution.  Two brothers who bilked consumers out of millions as part of a cramming scam are now behind bars – giving a whole new meaning to the term “cell phone.”  And the prosecutors who brought the case, Assistant United States Attorneys Hallie Mitchell Hoffman and Kyle F.

Corporate officers: Don’t assume you’re Inc.-ognito

That “Inc.” after a company’s name can offer certain legal protections, but immunity from liability under the FTC Act isn’t necessarily one of them.  If you’re a corporate officer or number them among your clients, a recent settlement with two people involved in a debt collection operation should underscore that message.

Judge rules on reach of FTC Act

When the FTC sued payday lender AMG Services in 2012, the complaint charged the defendants with a host of deceptive and unfair practices aimed at consumers already struggling to make ends meet.  Undisclosed fees and debt collection calls that threatened arrest were just a few of the allegations.  The defendants countered with an interesting defense:  that their affiliation with American Indian tribes rendered them beyond the reach of the FTC Act.  A U.S.

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