Moon Unit Zappa’s 1982 song “Valley Girl” popularized the phrase “gag me with a spoon.” We doubt the lyric “gag me with a form contract clause” would have been a hit, but it’s among the tactics expressly outlawed by the Consumer Review Fairness Act. As two proposed settlements demonstrate, the FTC thinks gag clauses and similar non-disparagement provisions that violate the CRFA are – to quote Ms. Zappa – grody to the max.
Blog Posts Tagged with Real Estate and Mortgages
Based on the promoters’ promises, it sounded like a tropical paradise: a luxury enclave called Sanctuary Belize featuring a championship golf course, a new airport with direct flights to the U.S., and a hospital staffed with American doctors. No wonder consumers – many of whom were contemplating retirement – sunk more than $100 million of their savings into lots in what appeared to be a swanky resort development already under construction.
When people are looking to rent a house or apartment, the most important “screening” isn’t on the windows of the prospective new place. It’s the tenant background screening that goes on behind the scenes, the results of which can make the difference between home sweet home and homeless.
As the song goes, “A house is not a home.” And as alleged in an FTC lawsuit against the operators of rental listing websites, sometimes an apartment isn’t an apartment.
More than ten years ago, the FTC and the Department of Justice published a joint report outlining some concerns about impediments to competition in the residential real estate industry.
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.
Spoiler alert: If the villains in a thriller appear to be vanquished with 20 minutes left in the movie, you can bet they’ll make a dramatic reappearance. A case filed by the FTC targets a B2B tactic that small businesses started seeing years ago, but – to quote Poltergeist II – “They’re ba-ack.” And the defendants in the sequel have added what the FTC says is a bogus imposter angle.
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.
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.
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.
53 and it’s likely to go up. That’s the number of data security law enforcement actions the FTC has settled so far. The facts of each case are different, but distilled down to the basics, they stand for one central proposition: Your company’s data security measures should be reasonable and appropriate in light of the sensitivity and amount of consumer information you have, the size and complexity of your business, and the availability and cost of tools to improve security and reduce vulnerabilities.
Earlier this week was the 66th anniversary of the so-called Roswell UFO incident. No, Mulder and Scully aren't on temporary assignment to the FTC and we don’t have any “now it can be told” government news on the subject. But we can offer insights into what happening on MARS: the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule. As X Files fans would say, "The truth is out there," but one place it appears to be lacking is in promotions making overhyped promises to homeowners in financial trouble.
Yesterday’s 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry was a good time to reflect on a decade of progress. But to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson (or Patrick Henry, Irish statesman John Philpot Curran, or whoever else said it), eternal vigilance is the price of an uninterrupted dinner hour. A record-setting $7.5 million settlement with a national mortgage broker demonstrates the FTC’s commitment to the fight against
Funny thing about the Fair Credit Reporting Act: It’s been around since 1970, it’s broad in scope, and yet a lot of businesses with obligations under the law may not be focusing on compliance. Warning letters the FTC just sent to six companies in a particular line of work underscore the need to double-check your FCRA responsibilities.
A favorite trick for rip-off artists is to pretend to represent a trustworthy and respected organization. Today — and we mean that literally — we’re hearing from businesses that have received email exploiting the good name of the Federal Trade Commission. We don’t want you to lose money or valuable information to a scam artist sending a phony message claiming you’re a target of the FTC.
Here’s a first for you: The FTC has released a series of ads created by its own staff and boy, are they bad. No, we’re not channeling our inner Sterling Cooper Mad Men. The goal is to help companies comply with their legal obligations by showing some of the questionable mortgage-related claims likely to cause law enforcement — and consumer — heartburn.
Never underestimate the creativity of marketers attempting to separate cash-strapped consumers from their last dollar. And never underestimate the FTC’s resolve to protect people from deception in tough economic times. Those are just two points to take from recent FTC law enforcement actions.
Imagine for a moment your ideal customer. They consider their choices carefully before buying. They keep their accounts current. When service is top-notch, they spread the word to friends and family. If there’s a glitch, they give you a chance to correct the problem before posting thumbs-down reviews. Now imagine you could “create” your own cadre of contented customers. Fantasy Land? It’s more real than you might imagine.
Last week saw FTC announcements involving allegations of foreclosure rescue fraud, deception aimed at people trying to resell their timeshares, complaints against payday lenders, and lawsuits against outfits claiming to help consumers behind on their car payments. Is there a theme here? You bet. But the message isn't just for companies engaged in practices targeting consumers struggling to stay afloat. There are words to the wise for businesses of any size and every stripe.