The FTC has filed
false advertising charges against the marketers of Your Baby
Can Read!, a program that allegedly
claimed it could teach kids as young as nine months how to read, and said it had
the scientific studies to back it up. According to the FTC, it didn’t. The program, which uses a
combination of videos, flash cards, and pop-up books, was advertised online and
on television stations including Discovery Kids and Nickelodeon. In one half-hour
infomercial, a home video shows a two-year-old supposedly reading Charlotte’s
Web, and her mom claiming she read
her first Harry Potter book at three.
The kits cost about $200 and took in more than $185 million, the FTC says.
Marketers behind the Ab
Circle Pro, an abdominal exercise device, will pay $15 to $25 million in
refunds to settle FTC
charges that they falsely claimed people using it just three minutes a day would
lose 10 pounds in two weeks. According to the FTC, the defendants’ ads said a
three-minute workout on the Ab Circle Pro was the same as doing 100 sit ups,
and pitchwoman Jennifer Nicole Lee compared brief use of the Ab Circle Pro to a
30-minute workout. The infomercial also featured testimonials from people claiming
they lost up to 60 pounds. But just three minutes a day of exercise won’t
make you thin, the FTC says. People who bought the Ab Circle Pro can file a
refund claim at ftc.gov/abcirclepro.
The FTC is suing DISH Network for allegedly pitching its satellite TV program
to millions of people who had told the company not to call. According the FTC’s
Telemarketing Sales Rule, even if a person isn’t on the National Do Not Call
Registry, a telemarketer can’t call someone who’s asked to be placed on the
company’s own do-not-call list. The calls were made by DISH Network directly and
through authorized dealers. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice, working on
behalf of the FTC, has another
case against DISH Network for allegedly calling people on the National
Do Not Call Registry. For more on your rights, read Q&A: The National Do Not Call Registry.
charges have been filed against marketers for Best Yet! and Rest Easy. The FTC has alleged that they failed to back
up claims that their products could prevent and eliminate bed bug infestations
with natural ingredients like cedar oil and cinnamon. In addition to being
sold directly to consumers and to hotels, Best Yet! also was sold to schools as
a way to treat head lice. Claims like these need to be backed by competent and
reliable scientific evidence, the FTC says. Bed bug infestations are difficult
to control, and no one treatment or technique has been found to be effective in
all cases. For more, read Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite . . . Your
With an unprecedented
increase in shortages of critically important medications, FTC staff have advised
the Generic Pharmaceutical Association that the agency won’t challenge an
initiative designed to help the FDA respond to the shortages. The proposed
program, which includes an agreement among drug makers to collect information
about shortage drugs, could help FDA staff accelerate the recovery of critical
drugs in short supply. According to FTC staff, safeguards like independent
third party data collection and limits on sharing the data with manufacturers
make it unlikely that the proposed program will harm competition.
"The FTC reminds
marketers that they should think twice before promising a silver-bullet
solution to a health problem — whether it involves losing weight or curing
cancer. Weight loss is hard work, and telling consumers otherwise is
— David Vladeck,
Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection
A subsidiary of
Medifast Inc., a diet plan marketer, will pay a $3.7 million penalty to settle FTC charges it violated a previous FTC order by
making unsupported weight loss claims. Jason Pharmaceuticals, which sells
Medifast-brand low-calorie meal substitutes, allegedly claimed that people
using Medifast products would lose two to five pounds a week, and falsely represented that the experiences of people
endorsing the products were typical.
the FTC's request, a U.S. court has ordered a record
$478 million judgment against the marketers of three get-rich-quick infomercial scams,
including John Beck's Free & Clear Real Estate System, for
deceiving nearly a million people with phony claims that they could make money
using their programs. Almost everyone who paid $39.95 for
the systems, or later paid $14,995 for personal coaching services, lost
Google Money Tree: The FTC
is returning more than $2 million in 93,086 checks to buyers of this work-at-home scam, which
charged hidden fees
to people’s credit cards and bank accounts and falsely claimed it was connected
to Google Inc.
Federal Job Scam: About
2,000 people falsely promised federal jobs if
they paid for study materials or counseling will recover
about 20 percent of the money they lost to the scam.
Rate Reduction Robocalls: The FTC is sending 4,500 checks to
victims of a telemarketer who used robocalls to
pitch worthless credit card rate reduction programs for an up-front fee. Checks
will range from $31 to $1,300, depending on the loss.
Deceptive Drug Prices: Nearly 13,000 people who paid significantly more for their drugs than they expected based on allegedly deceptive pricing claims
made by CVS Caremark will receive a refund for the amount they overpaid.
IN OTHER NEWS:
hurricane season. Be prepared for charity and home repair scams, which inevitably follow weather disasters: http://go.usa.gov/r7tF
In the mobile app business?
The FTC tells how you can make sure your app does what you claim, and build
privacy into its design: http://go.usa.gov/r7z3