Monday, February 28, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Credit Card Debt Fraud

  • The FTC has permanently banned a group of alleged scammers from the debt relief industry and has imposed a monetary judgment of $5.3 million. The ban and judgment stem from a settlement related to a lawsuit in which the Commission and the Florida Office of the Attorney General alleged that the defendants tricked seniors and financially distressed consumers into signing up for a debt relief scheme by “bombarding” them with telemarketing calls. Under the alleged scheme, the defendants falsely claimed that consumers could save thousands of dollars in credit card interest, when in reality the defendants did little more than collect upfront fees from consumers. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the stipulated final order based on the settlement.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Bureau of Competition: Healthcare Mergers

  • FTC Bureau of Competition director Holly Vedova issued a statement following an announcement that healthcare providers Lifespan Corp. and Care New England Health System had terminated their proposed merger. Ms. Vedova noted that the merger would have “combined the two largest healthcare providers in Rhode Island” and allegedly would have had anticompetitive effects in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This is the third merger to be abandoned in as many weeks following an FTC challenge.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: COVID-19

  • The FTC, DOJ, and FDA jointly sued Brooklyn-based B4B Earth Tea LLC and its owner, seeking to permanently block allegedly deceptive advertising that the company’s Earth Tea product could treat, cure, and prevent COVID-19 more effectively than approved vaccines. The lawsuit also alleged that the company’s advertising cited to a single 15-person study conducted in India to support their health claims that “Earth Tea is clinically proven to cure COVID-19 in 48 hours,” which the agency criticized as not constituting “competent and reliable scientific evidence.”

Friday, March 4, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: COVID-19

  • The FTC has launched its National Consumer Protection Week covering the period from March 6 – March 12, 2022. The schedule includes both in-person and online events; the latter includes public webinars on how to protect against and report scams, how to recover from fraud, and how to help older adults plan for financial caregiving.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

  • The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved a stipulated order related to a complaint filed by the DOJ on behalf of the FTC. In the complaint, the DOJ alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rule requiring that child-directed online services notify parents and obtain their consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. A settlement order related to the complaint requires the defendants to delete illegally-collected personal information from children under 13, destroy any algorithms derived from the data, and pay a $1.5 million penalty.

Office of the General Counsel: Horseracing Rule Approval

  • In a 3-0-1 vote, the Commission approved a set of Racetrack Safety rules proposed by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority. The proposed rules address all manner of safety practices and protocols, ranging from racetrack accreditation procedures to jockey health and safety requirements. As part of this approval, the FTC considered and addressed 39 public comments from “many corners of the horseracing industry.” The Authority is charged with developing proposed rules, which only take effect upon Commission approval. Approval, in turn, is based solely on statutory decisional criteria of whether the proposed rule is consistent with the “considerations in the text of the Act and the Commission’s procedural rule.”