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.
Blog Posts Tagged with Debt
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.
Like calling an NFL lineman “Tiny,” we appreciate an ironic name as much as the next person. But it’s different when a company calls itself – among other things – Consumer Defense, Preferred Law, and Modification Review Board and then makes allegedly deceptive claims regarding loan modification services to consumers struggling to hold onto their homes.
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.
We’ve all heard about counterfeit money and counterfeit handbags. But counterfeit debt? It’s the subject of a $4.1 million judgment entered last month by a federal court in Kansas – and it illustrates yet another example of the injury inflicted by debt collection deception.
Everyone knows that The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. But did you know that The AG’s team is a partner’s dream, deep in the heart of Texas?
That’s the tune we’re humming to honor our colleagues at the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Texas Attorney General – recipients of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Partner Award. The Award recognizes their extraordinary contribution to our shared mission to fight fraud and deception in the marketplace.
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.
First came the companies claiming they could reduce consumers’ credit card debt. Next were the outfits saying they could renegotiate mortgages or save homes from foreclosure. Now that people are struggling with the trillion-dollar burden of student loan debt, some marketers are making dramatic promises about reduced payments and loan forgiveness – representations the FTC alleges are false or misleading.
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.
For swimmers struggling to stay afloat, imagine this good news/bad news scenario. The good news: Someone throws a life preserver in your direction. The bad news: It’s made of concrete. According to an FTC lawsuit, that’s a rough analogy to the services that Damian Kutzner, Brookstone Law, Advantis Law, attorney Vito Torchia, Jr., and others offered to consumers caught in the undertow of foreclosure.
Appearing as Inspector Harry Callahan, Clint Eastwood added a famous phrase to the lexicon. As a suspect pondered his next move, Callahan invited him to consider the consequences of his actions: “You’ve got to ask yourself this question: Do I feel lucky?
The FTC just posted a new list and you’ll want to make sure you don’t land on it.
It’s a list of hundreds of companies and individuals banned from the debt relief business.
For companies that peddle phony student loan debt relief, we have a message for you: Winter is coming.
A complaint filed by the FTC and the Illinois Attorney General against an operation that used names like Stark Law, Stark Recovery, and Capital Harris Miller & Associates alleges a veritable smorgasbord of debt collection violations. But the Stark Law lawsuit includes an additional allegation that should send a stark warning to those in the debt buying business.
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.
As the name suggests, Green Tree Servicing was supposed to service homeowners’ mortgages by collecting and crediting monthly payments. But according to a $63 million settlement announced by the FTC and CFPB, rather than service, Green Tree gave many homeowners the business.
“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?” Elvis Costello asked that musical question back in the day. The Memorandum of Understanding between the FTC and CFPB – which the two agencies just reauthorized for a three-year period – shows that when it comes to protecting consumers, ensuring a vibrant marketplace for financial products and services, and using resources efficiently, we're in harmony.
If you’ve been following the FTC’s 50+ data security settlements, you know there are some places it’s not wise to leave sensitive information laying around – for example, in a dumpster behind a drugstore, in the trash near a payday loan company, or in an employee’s backpack.
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.
Sci-fi fans will remember the 1996 movie "Mars Attacks!" where Americans banded together to fight off Martian invaders.