Skechers USA, Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that it deceived people
with ads claiming its Shape-ups and other “toning shoes” would help them lose
weight and strengthen muscles. Ads challenged by the FTC include one that aired
during the 2011 Super Bowl showing Kim Kardashian dumping her personal trainer
for a pair of Shape-ups. Another ad claimed that people who wore Resistance
Runner shoes could substantially increase “muscle activation” for
posture-related, calf, and buttocks muscles compared to wearing regular running
shoes. But the study that supposedly backed up those claims did not produce those
results, the FTC alleges, and Skechers cherry-picked the results. People who
bought Shape-ups and other toning shoes can learn about refunds at ftc.gov/skechers.
has settled FTC charges that it misled
share personal information that could be used to identify users, and that information
used to customize ads wouldn’t identify the user to third parties. The FTC
charged that Myspace gave advertisers the Friend ID of users viewing particular
pages on the site, which allowed advertisers to go to people’s profiles, identify
them, and see any publicly available information. Advertisers also could
combine the user's real name and profile with other information to link
web-browsing activity to them, the FTC said. The settlement requires privacy audits for the next 20 years.
The FTC has
charged BSG, the nation’s biggest third-party billing company, with contempt. The
agency is seeking the return of
$52 million in bogus charges — the amount the company crammed on to people’s
phone bills and failed to refund, despite complaints. Cramming happens when
a company adds a charge to your phone bill for a service you didn’t order,
agree to, or use. According to the FTC, BSG (Billing Services Group) violated the terms of a previous FTC order by
placing more than $70 million in charges on nearly 1.2 million phone lines on
behalf of a serial phone crammer for unwanted voicemail and streaming services.
has won a judgment against
a massive infomercial scam that allegedly deceived
almost a million people out of more than $450 million. The marketers behind infomercials for John Beck's Free
& Clear Real Estate System, John Alexander's Real Estate Riches in 14 Days,
and Jeff Paul's Shortcuts to Internet Millions promised big returns for the
price of $39.95, the FTC said. But fewer than one percent of the buyers made
any profit, and many people found themselves enrolled in programs that charged them
every month, the court found. The defendants also pitched personal coaching
services for up to $14,995, claiming people would easily earn back the cost.
But almost everyone who paid for coaching lost money. Read Ads for Business Opportunities: How
To Detect Deception.
The FTC has
put an end to an operation that allegedly posed as government agencies
and conned hundreds of thousands of people into paying $20 each for fake
sweepstakes prizes. According to the FTC's amended complaint,
operators of the scheme sent personalized mailers — some with fictitious
government agency names and seals — to convince people that they’d won a multi-million
dollar prize. But the people getting the mailers hadn’t won a thing, the FTC said.
Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require anyone
to pay “insurance,” “taxes,” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect a
prize. For more, read Scammers
Exploit the FTC's Good Name, Promise Phony Sweepstakes Prizes.
Morgan, Inc., has agreed to sell natural gas
pipelines and other assets in the
Rocky Mountain region to settle FTC charges that its $38 billion acquisition of
El Paso Corporation likely would lead to higher prices for transporting natural
gas in the area. Both companies operate pipelines and other natural gas
facilities throughout the U.S. According to the FTC, without divestitures,
the combined firm would dominate natural gas transportation options for
producers in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Utah. As proposed, Kinder
Morgan will divest its Rockies Express pipeline, Kinder Morgan Interstate Gas
Transmission pipeline, Trailblazer pipeline, two gas processing plants in the
Rocky Mountain region, and associated storage capacity to a buyer approved by
"You don’t have to be Don Draper to know that
products that claim health benefits attract customers. So, let me remind marketers
once again: either shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims. The
standard is clear and direct: Any health benefit claim requires competent
and reliable scientific evidence."
— David Vladeck,
Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection
New York City funeral home has settled charges that it didn’t disclose casket prices to customers as required by
the FTC’s Funeral Rule, despite having participated in a compliance training
program once before. Under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, funeral homes must give
customers itemized price information at the start of an in-person discussion of
arrangements, and a price
list for caskets before they see any in the showroom. For more, read Paying Final Respects.
The FTC is looking for information from the public on how
identity theft affects older consumers.
That includes original research on its scope, challenges to dealing with it,
and possible solutions. The agency will use what it learns to inform its law
enforcement agenda, policy initiatives, and education efforts.
The FTC is hosting
a public workshop May 21st on “drip pricing,” a practice used by airlines, car dealers, and
financial institutions, among others, where
companies advertise only part of a product's price up-front, and then reveal
more charges — like surcharges, taxes, or optional upgrade fees — as a person
goes through the process of buying the product.
IN OTHER NEWS:
someone who sends money to family overseas? Share this alert, in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese: http://go.usa.gov/pau
- An identity thief may steal a child’s info to get a job, benefits,
medical care, utilities, car loans, or a mortgage: http://go.usa.gov/paJ
- Checked your credit
report lately? Go to AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized source for your free annual