Consent agreements given final approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has made final consent agreements with the following entities. The Commission action makes the consent orders binding on the respondents.
- The May Department Stores Company. The consent order will require the company to make refunds totaling at least $15 million to consumers who, having had their credit card account debts discharged in bankruptcy proceedings, continued to make payments or face illegal collection efforts. The Commission vote to make the order final was 4-0. (See news release dated November 2, 1998; FTC Docket No. C-3848; Staff contact is Andrew D. Caverly or John T. Dugan, 617-424-5960.)
- The Commission has voted to make final a consent order with Ernesto L. Ramirez, D.M.D., and other dentists in Juana Diaz, Coamo, and Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. The order will settle charges that the dentists fixed prices and engaged in an illegal boycott in order to obtain higher reimbursement rates for dental services under Puerto Rico's government managed care plan for the indigent. The Commission vote to finalize the order was 4-0. (See news release dated September 16, 1998; FTC Docket No. C-3851; Staff contact is Richard A. Feinstein, 202-326-3688.)
- The Commission has voted to make final a consent order with GeoCities settling charges that it misrepresented the purposes for which it was collecting personally identifiable information. The final order prohibits GeoCities from misrepresenting the purposes for which it collects or uses personal identifying information from or about consumers, including children. The order also requires GeoCities to: (a) place a prominent privacy notice on its websites, (b) establish a system to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children, and (c) notify individuals from whom it previously collected personal information and offer them an opportunity to have that information deleted. The final order contains an additional provision as a result of the public comment period, permitting GeoCities to collect or use personal information from children to the extent permitted by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, or by regulations or guides issued under that Act. The Commission vote to make the consent order final was 4-0, with Commissioner Orson Swindle issuing a separate statement. In his statement, Commissioner Swindle said, "I have voted in favor of final issuance of the consent order in this matter because its provisions are appropriate to remedy the alleged violations of the law by GeoCities, Inc. However, I want to emphasize that my support for these provisions as a remedy for alleged law violations in this particular case does not necessarily mean that I would support imposing these requirements on other commercial Internet sites through either legislation or regulation." (See news release dated August 13, 1998; FTC Docket No. C-3849;
Staff contact is Lee Peeler, 202-326-3090 or Joel Winston, 202-326-3153.)
Amended complaints: The FTC has amended the following complaint:
- On January 12, the Commission announced it filed a complaint in federal district court citing seven defendants for billing or debiting consumers' credit card accounts for unordered or fictitious Internet services. The Commission has authorized a court filing naming additional defendants in the case and dismissing one defendant. The defendants added to the complaint in FTC v J.K. Publications, Inc., et al, are Dennis Rappaport also d/b/a/ Adult Bank; Adult Banc, Inc., also d/b/a/ Adult Bank; Discreet Bill, Inc.; TAL Services, Inc.; Maurice O'Bannon also d/b/a MJD Enterprises and Adult Bank; and Herbal Care, Inc. The Commission has alleged that in addition to www.netfill.com the defendants did business through web sites called www.xbc.com and www.adultbank.com and used the additional business names Assist Online and Kulm Consulting Group. The Commission has alleged that all of the former and newly named defendants engaged in a common enterprise to deceive consumers. The Commission is seeking injunctive relief against all the defendants as well as redress for consumers. At the request the FTC, Net Options, Inc., has been dismissed as a defendant. (See news release dated January 12, 1999; FTC File No. 982 3616; Staff contact is Paul Luehr, 202-326-2236)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this FYI are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.