News from the Federal Trade Commission - May 2013

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May 2013

Mobile Cramming


The FTC has sued to shut down an operation that allegedly took in millions of dollars by placing “crammed” or unauthorized charges on people's mobile phone bills. The complaint against Wise Media, LLC, Brian M. Buckley and Winston J. Deloney is the first FTC case against mobile cramming. According to the FTC, the defendants allegedly billed mobile users – without their permission – for charging $9.99 per month for so-called “premium services.” The FTC’s complaint asked the court to immediately freeze the defendants’ assets and order them to stop their deceptive and unfair practices.

Fraud: Surveying the Scene

fraud survey

A statistical survey of fraud in the United States during 2011 showed that an estimated 25.6 million adults – 10.8 percent of the adult population – were victims of fraud. While online shopping offers greater choice and convenience, the FTC survey indicates that, as of 2011, buyers also were most likely to hear about fraudulent offers on the internet. An estimated 17.3 percent of African-Americans and 13.4 percent of Hispanics were victims; among non-Hispanic whites, 9 percent were victims.

More Options for Passengers


FTC staff strongly supported a proposed ordinance in Alaska that would increase the number of new entrants into taxicab services, and would eliminate all restrictions on the number of taxicabs, sedans and limos by 2022. The comments also suggest that the Alaska Assembly may want to modernize its regulatory framework to respond to the development of smartphone apps that provide ways to arrange for transportation services.

Coming Events


The FTC is hosting three events on consumer issues at 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. They are free and open to the public. To pre-register, email your name and affiliation to the appropriate address below.

Life of a Debt: The FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will co-host this roundtable on June 6 to examine the flow of consumer data throughout the debt collection process and the costs and benefits of providing people with additional disclosures about their debts and debt-related rights. It also will be streamed live online. Email

Jewelry Marketing: This event on June 19 will explore the marketing of alloy products containing precious metals and surface applications of precious metals. Email

All Things Connected: Many people already use mobile phones to open their car doors or turn off their lights remotely. The ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other – sometimes called “The Internet of Things” – may raise security and privacy concerns. FTC staff is having a workshop on November 21 to discuss those issues. Submit your comments by June 1electronically or on paper.


"The concept of ‘cramming’ charges on to phone bills is a not a new one. As more and more consumers move to mobile phones, scammers have adapted to this new technology, and the Commission will continue its efforts to protect consumers from their unlawful practices."

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez

Child Identity Theft

Staff have expressed support of a Social Security Administration proposal designed to protect children from identity theft. The new policy would allow the Social Security number of a child under 13 to be changed in the event it was incorrectly disclosed or misused, or if the child’s Social Security card was stolen in transit.


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