Monday, December 20, 2021

Bureau of Competition: Retail Fuel Merger

  • The FTC entered into a consent order with Global Partners LP and Richard Wiehl to settle charges that Global’s proposed acquisition of Wiehl’s chain of 27 retail gasoline service stations would violate federal antitrust laws. Under the order, Global and Wiehl must divest seven fuel outlets to Petroleum Marketing Investment Group, and for the next ten years, Global must obtain prior approval from the Commission before acquiring retail fuel assets within two miles of any of the divested outlets. Concurrently with the order, the agency issued an analysis explaining the potential anticompetitive effects of the proposed acquisition and how the consent agreement remedies those effects.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Spyware and Data Security

  • The Commission finalized and issued a formal decision banning “stalkerware” provider Support King, LLC from offering, promoting, selling, or advertising any surveillance app. The decision follows an investigation in which the FTC alleged that Support King’s monitoring apps and products violated the FTC Act by allowing illegal surveillance of a user’s activities on a mobile device, including text messages, browser history, geolocation, and photos. The company must also delete any information which was illegally collected from its apps, and must notify all app users of the unlawful data collection.

Bureau of Competition: Health Care & Antitrust

  • The agency issued a final order settling charges that the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners violated antitrust laws by requiring on-site supervision by a licensed dentist for tooth alignment scans performed by non-dentist practitioners. This order stems from allegations by the Commission that this on-site supervision requirement unreasonably excluded teledentistry-based teeth alignment providers and limited consumers’ ability to choose these remote firms over a traditional dentist’s office. Under the order, the Board must not require on-site dental supervision or otherwise impede these firms from providing alignment therapy through remote treatment.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Bureau of Competition: Food and Beverages

  • Biglari Holdings Inc., a Texas-based holding company, agreed to pay a $1.4 million dollar civil penalty to settle charges that its two March 26, 2020 restaurant acquisitions violated the Hart-Scott-Rodino (“HSR”) Act. The charges involved allegations that, instead of following HSR reporting requirements and awaiting approval from the FTC and DOJ, Biglari completed the acquisitions without complying with any premerger notification requirements. The proposed settlement will be published in the Federal Register and will be open for a 60-day comment period; the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia may then approve the settlement upon finding that it is in the public interest.

Bureau of Competition: Transportation & Antitrust

  • The FTC also announced that Clarence Werner, owner of trucking and logistics company Werner Enterprises, Inc., will pay a $486,900 civil penalty to settle multiple HSR-related charges. The agency had alleged that Mr. Werner failed to make required HSR filings when exercising his stock options to acquire shares of Werner Enterprises, even after he learned that some of his prior purchases violated the HSR Act. The settlement will be published in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period and will be followed by review in federal court.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Data Privacy & Security in the Mortgage Industry

  • The Commission gave final approval to a settlement with mortgage industry data analytics firm Ascension Data & Analytics, LLC related to alleged violation of the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule. The alleged violation resulted in a breach of a cloud-based server containing sensitive consumer data, including Social Security numbers. Under the settlement, the company must refrain from storing or otherwise handling any consumer’s personal identifiable financial information until it implements a comprehensive data security program.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Merchant Cash Advance/Debt Collection Fraud

  • Under a new settlement order, cash advance company RAM Capital Funding and its owner Tzvi Reich are permanently banned from the merchant cash advance and debt collection industries. In addition, RAM and Reich must pay a $675,000 civil penalty to resolve charges under the FTC Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that they used deceptive tactics to seize assets from small businesses, non-profits, and religious organizations. The defendants must also vacate any judgments made against former customers and release liens against their customers’ property which were obtained via unfair collection practices or threats of physical violence.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: National Do Not Call Registry

  • The FTC released its biennial report to Congress on the Do Not Call Registry. The report summarizes the current operations of the Registry, its impact on new technologies, and the impact of the “established business relationship” exception to enforcement. The Registry now has over 244 million active consumer registrations. The FTC received more than five million Do Not Call complaints in fiscal year 2021, and the vast majority of the complaints pertained to robocalls. The report details the FTC and the FCC’s approaches to combating these illegal calls, including bringing cases against VoIP service providers who facilitated abusive calls.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Financial Fraud and Fair Credit Reporting Act

  • ITMedia Solutions LLC, a lead generation company, will pay $1.5 million in civil penalties under a stipulated order to resolve charges under the FTC Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The charges arise from allegations that the company tricked consumers into providing sensitive financial information under the guise that it would be shared with qualified lenders; instead, the company sold the information to marketers, debt relief and credit repair sellers, and other entities, which put consumers at risk for identity theft and scams. The order also prohibits the company from making misleading statements to consumers or from selling a consumer’s information outside of a limited set of circumstances.