When it comes to getting the working capital your company needs, you’re strictly business. Yes, you confer with traditional financial institutions, but like many small businesses, you also may look into online loans and other newer options. Financing for smaller enterprises is the topic of an upcoming FTC workshop. Mark May 8, 2019, on your calendar for Strictly Business: An FTC Forum on Small Business Financing.
Blog Posts Tagged with Credit and Loans
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a given that companies shouldn’t charge consumers hidden fees. But it raises a particular concern when an online lender makes “No Hidden Fees” claims a centerpiece of its marketing – and then deducts from those loans hundreds or even thousands of dollars in hidden up-front fees.
Military families face all the consumer protection issues other Americans face – and then some. Frequent moves and deployments can pose additional financial challenges for servicemembers. And some of these concerns continue even after they’ve settled into civilian life.
So you’ve received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) from the Federal Trade Commission related to a consumer protection matter. Now what? We appreciate that it can be daunting for any company – especially a small business – and we want to be as transparent as possible about the process.
If you think the feuds among the Great Houses of Westeros get intense, consider the dinner table discussions about student loan debt. It’s not just taking a toll on the home front. Experts report that the $1.4 trillion debt burden carried by 42 million Americans is affecting workplace productivity, too. But at a time when consumers need accurate information, opportunistic outfits fly in like Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons with false promises of debt reduction or forgiveness.
Pork Chop Hill Road, Screaming Eagle Boulevard, Hell on Wheels Avenue, or my former home on Patton Drive. If those street names sound familiar, chances are you’re a servicemember, a veteran, or part of a military family. July is the Month of the Military Consumer and the FTC has resources to help keep members of the military fiscally fit and scam savvy – and a tip for businesses that do business with military consumers.
There’s been a lot of talk about “ping trees” and other activities associated with the lead generation industry. The FTC’s concern is that consumers don’t get ponged in the process. A proposed settlement gives a glimpse into how one lead generation company operated and offers insights for businesses about compliance considerations when the “product” in question is consumers’ personal data.
The scene is the west coast, the subject is emerging technology, and AI is in the title. But it’s not the 2001 Spielberg sci fi film.
Financial technology remains a hot topic for consumers, offering the possibilities of increased convenience and access to financial services at a lower cost. As part of its FinTech Forum series, the FTC continues to promote public discussion of the ways in which innovative FinTech services – many provided by non-banks and technology companies within the FTC’s jurisdiction – can benefit consumers and the potential issues for stakeholders to keep in mind.
In promotional materials to attract prospective drivers, ride-hailing company Uber Technologies touted how much money drivers would earn and the favorable terms they could get by financing a car through Uber’s Vehicle Solutions Program. But according to an FTC complaint, Uber exaggerated those earnings claims and misrepresented the terms of its Vehicle Solutions Program.
“Just like the white winged dove sings a song,” you can count on the BCP Business Blog to celebrate the “Edge of Seventeen” – 2017, of course – with a recap of in-case-you-missed-it developments from 2016. (Sorry, Stevie Nicks. That was a stretch.) In no particular order, here is our take on ten noteworthy consumer protection actions from the year gone by.
Using background checks to screen tenants? Or maybe your company provides those background checks to landlords? Make sure you’re complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FTC’s new guidance for landlords and for tenant background screening companies can help.
What do landlords need to know?
The military community makes many of the same consumer decisions as their civilian counterparts. We all need to manage our money – and avoid rip-offs. But servicemembers and their families also face unique challenges, like frequent relocations and deployment. When a permanent change of station is on the horizon, a military family needs to rent or buy a new place to live, manage money while on the move, and be vigilant about dealing with businesses in an unfamiliar locale. A servicemember’s regular paycheck from Uncle Sam can make them a target for scammers.
From the perspective of consumers, the whole purpose of prepaid debit cards – their reason for living, if you will – is to give consumers immediate access to their money. Those cards are an especially important financial lifeline for people who don’t have traditional bank accounts.