FTC is suing Amazon and
seeking refunds for parents and other account holders who were billed for
unauthorized in-app charges. According to the FTC, many of the “free” games on
the Kindle Fire encouraged kids to buy virtual goods — like coins, stars, and
pet food — that they could charge to their parents’ accounts without entering a
password. Parents complained that they didn’t know, and their kids didn’t
understand, that these extras cost real money — anywhere from 99 cents to $99
each. Even when Amazon finally began requiring a password for certain in-app
charges, the company allegedly didn’t make it clear that entering a password
once could allow children to incur unlimited charges for 15 minutes to an hour.
Sentinel team held outreach and training sessions for over 200 law enforcers
from U.S. consumer protection agencies as well as agencies from the Dominican
Republic, Israel, Suriname, and the United Kingdom. We did training and
demonstrations for the National Association of Consumer Credit Administrators,
the New Mexico Attorney General’s Offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and the
FBI’s Advanced Mortgage Fraud Conference in Arlington, Virginia. To attend the
next online Sentinel training session, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
FTC has charged
T-Mobile USA, Inc., with cramming bogus “premium” SMS charges that
customers didn’t authorize on to their mobile phone bills. The FTC alleged that
T-Mobile made hundreds of millions of dollars by keeping 35 to 40 percent of
the fees for supposed subscriptions to services like flirting tips, horoscope
information and celebrity gossip. Those fees typically cost $9.99 per month.
T-Mobile allegedly continued to bill customers for these services even after
becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.
FTC held a contest at
DEF CON 22 in Las Vegas during August 7th-10th to inspire innovative tech
solutions to illegal robocalls. Advances in technology have enabled criminals
to send out thousands of illegal robocalls every minute — and to hide their true
location and identity by spoofing caller ID information. It’s the perfect environment for
telephone spam. Because technology is at the crux of the problem, the FTC
tapped one of the world’s biggest hacking conferences for high-caliber
technical support. See ftc.gov for more about the contest.
Many types of law enforcers join Sentinel. In the
past few months, Sentinel has welcomed:
Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, Field
California, Napa County District Attorney's Office,
Colorado, Platteville Police Department
Hawaii Department of the Attorney General, Commerce and
Economic Development Division
Indiana State Police, Cybercrime and Investigative
Ohio, Cincinnati Bar Association, Unauthorized Practice
of Law Committee
Wisconsin, West Bend Police
Department, Criminal Investigations
the FTC’s request, a federal judge has temporarily stopped an operation that swindled
Spanish-speaking consumers across the country and frozen its assets. Hispanic
Global Way allegedly marketed a variety of products through Spanish-language TV
commercials, including a weight loss belt that failed to deliver any promised
benefit, English-language courses, clothing and cellphones. According to the
FTC, the company shipped incomplete orders, defective products and products
that were different than advertised. When customers called to complain, many
were told they couldn’t return the merchandise and couldn’t get refunds.
cases against The Tax
Club and American Business Builders are part of a federal and state
crackdown on scams that falsely promise jobs and opportunities to “be your own
boss.” The defendants behind both operations have agreed to settlements that
will prohibit future misconduct; in the Tax Club case, they will surrender
assets valued at more than $15 million. The FTC’s website has information on business opportunity scams.
trial, a U.S. district court has stopped a
Georgia-based operation from using deception and threats to collect phantom
“debts” — debts that people didn’t owe. John Williams of Norcross, Ga., and two companies he
controls, Williams, Scott & Associates, LLC; and WSA, used a variety of
false threats to bully consumers nationwide into paying supposed payday loan
debts, the FTC charged. The FTC alleges that many people contacted by
the defendants had inquired about a payday loan online,
and submitted contact information, which later found its way into the
defendants’ hands. According to the complaint, the defendants threatened to
revoke people’s drivers’ licenses, and falsely claimed to be affiliated with
federal and state law enforcement agencies.
Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs now shares its complaint
data with the Consumer Sentinel Network. Does your office gather consumer
complaint data? You can help fellow Consumer Sentinel members boost their law
enforcement capabilities by sharing those complaints with us. Please contact email@example.com for details.
Share any of FTC’s free resources
and tips in your programs, on your website, and with your social networks.
Order free FTC materials at ftc.gov/bulkorder.