News from the Federal Trade Commission - March 2012

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News From The Federal Trade Commission March 2012

In Your Debt?

In Your Debt?
A fake debt collector who allegedly bullied people into paying debts they didn’t owe has been stopped at the FTC’s request. According to the FTC, American Credit Crunchers, LLC, Ebeeze, LLC, and owner Varang K. Thaker misused the personal information of people looking online for payday loans. The defendants used callers from India who pretended to be law enforcement or federal investigators to falsely threaten lawsuits, arrest, or dismissal from their job if they didn’t make a payment on a delinquent payday loan. The people didn’t owe the defendants a thing, the FTC says. For more on handling callers claiming to be debt collectors, read Who’s Calling? That Debt Collector Could Be a Fake.

Robo, Schmobo: Stop These Calls

Robo, Schmobo
The FTC is taking action to stop two massive robocalling operations that allegedly enabled telemarketers to make hundreds of millions of illegal prerecorded calls to people across the country, including many whose numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry. The agency alleges that the defendants offered "self-service" voice broadcasting to make it easy for telemarketers to deliver tens of millions of robocalls for mere pennies per call. Marketers simply had to upload a prerecorded message — pitching debt relief services, carpet cleaning, auto warranties, and satellite dish broadcasting, for example — and a list of telephone numbers at the defendants’ web sites for the calls to be placed. Read Robocalls are Illegal: Scammers Use False Caller IDs to Hide for more.

Federal Job Fiction

Federal Job Fiction
The FTC and the state of Arizona have stopped a business that allegedly ran an illegal government job scheme. According to the complaint, Government Careers Inc. advertised supposed postal, border patrol, and administrative support jobs on and Yahoo! Hot Jobs among other websites, and in local newspapers. The defendants told people that for $119, they would get study materials to help them pass an exam to get a federal job. But in many cases, the jobs didn’t require exams or didn’t exist, the FTC says. The defendants allegedly also charged people $965 for career counseling services, including resume editing and exam preparation, despite saying the ‘clients’ wouldn’t have to pay until they got a job.

Seeing Through Claims

Seeing Through the Claims
Five companies have settled FTC charges that the energy-efficiency and cost-savings marketing claims they made about their replacement windows were deceptive. According to the settlement, the companies couldn’t back up their claims, which in some cases said people could cut their energy bills in half just by replacing their current windows with the windows advertised. But the potential savings from new windows depend on several factors, including the climate, the kind of windows you’re replacing, and how the new windows are installed. For more on replacing your home's windows, and information that could affect your energy savings, check out Shopping for New Windows.

Putting Payday Borrowers in a Bind

Putting Payday Borrowers in a Bind
The FTC has expanded its case against an allegedly deceptive payday lender. According to the FTC, South Dakota-based Payday Financial, LLC, is trying to manipulate the legal system by forcing borrowers who’ve fallen behind on their payments to appear before the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court in South Dakota, regardless of where they live, in an attempt to get a tribal court order to garnish their wages. But the tribal court doesn’t have jurisdiction. The agency’s original complaint alleged that the defendants illegally tried to garnish employees’ wages without court orders. For more on payday loans, read Payday Loans Equal Very Costly Cash.

Competition Promotes Quality Care

Competition Promotes Quality Care
To resolve FTC charges that acquiring its rival Liberty Dialysis would harm renal care patients in local markets across the country, Fresenius Medical Care will sell 60 outpatient dialysis clinics in 43 cities under a proposed settlement. Patients suffering from end stage renal disease use outpatient dialysis treatments to remove toxins and excess fluid from their blood, and rely on nearby clinics for these services. According to the FTC, without these divestitures, renal care patients would likely face higher prices or reductions in quality of care in the 43 cities as a result of the merger.

"The fact that almost four million consumers fell prey to the lure of these 'free trial' offers is a stark reminder that 'free' offers can come at a huge price."

David Vladeck, Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection

ID Theft is Top Complaint Category

For the 12th year in a row, identity theft is at the top of the FTC’s annual list of consumer complaints. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed with the FTC in 2011, 15 percent were ID theft complaints; nearly a quarter of these were related to tax- or wage- fraud. Complaints about debt collectors were second to identity theft.

Stamping Out Fraud

At the request of the FTC, a U.S. district court has issued a contempt ruling against promoters of credit repair, debt relief, and food stamp services who violated a 2010 settlement. The court, which ordered refunds, said the defendants promoted a food stamp application guide that falsely promised to show how “almost everybody” can legally get food stamps for free.

More Refunds

Bank of America subsidiary BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP — formerly known as Countrywide — has agreed to settle FTC charges that it illegally assessed more than $36 million worth of fees against struggling homeowners in violation of an earlier settlement. BAC Home Loans has already reversed or refunded $28 million in improper fees. The new settlement requires them to reverse or refund the remaining $8 million.


                More >


  • Did you know your SSN can help an identity thief get a job or the tax refund that should be yours? Learn more:
  • In the wake of a late-winter tornado outbreak, the FTC says watch out for charity scams and home repair fraud:
  • Do the apps you download for your kids collect personal information? A new FTC report finds apps lack information:

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