A payment processing company agreed to pay or relinquish $1.1 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges under the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that it knowingly assisted and facilitated a credit card interest rate reduction scam that bilked tens of thousands of consumers out of a total of nearly $10 million.
Independant Resources Network Corp., doing business as IRN Payment Systems (IRN), agreed to a settlement of $3.48 million, which is suspended upon payment of $400,000. IRN also released any claim to approximately $700,000 in reserve funds that the court previously ordered it to turn over under the asset freeze provisions of a preliminary injunction order that was entered before IRN was named as a defendant in the case.
In January 2013, the FTC filed a complaint to stop a telemarketing scam operated by Innovative Wealth Builders, Inc. (IWB) and its principals, who falsely promised consumers that they could reduce the interest rates on their credit cards and save them thousands of dollars on their debts. For most of the time that IWB operated its scam, IRN was its exclusive payment processor.
In June 2013, the FTC sued IRN in an amended complaint alleging that IRN facilitated IWB’s scheme when IRN knew, or consciously avoided knowing, key facts about the illegal conduct of IWB’s telemarketing scam in violation of the TSR, and chose to continue profiting from processing IWB’s credit card transactions. Payment processors enable merchants to charge consumers’ credit cards for products and services, and in exchange are paid for each payment transaction the merchant processes.
The stipulated order prohibits IRN from the following: payment processing for clients that sell any debt relief product or service; payment processing for certain clients engaged in certain types of businesses (such as collection agency, credit card protection service, lead source providers, money making systems – get rich quick, mortgage loan modification, or outbound telemarketing) without conducting reasonable upfront screening and ongoing monitoring; and assisting or facilitating any client they know, or should know, is making misrepresentations to consumers or engaged in unauthorized billing of consumer accounts.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated order was 5-0. The stipulated order was entered and approved on June 10, 2014 by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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