The FTC had a busy week, taking multiple actions against alleged scammers and pyramid schemes in the finance and credit industries. In merger news, the agency announced a workshop on pharmaceutical mergers, and it took enforcement actions related to several mergers in a variety of industries. The FTC also issued a report showing that consumers have lost a whopping $1 billion in cryptocurrency scams since 2021. These stories and more after the jump.
While the country was busy celebrating Star Wars Day and Cinco de Mayo, the FTC took a number of actions in the consumer protection realm. The agency reported success stories in relation to a credit repair scam, a multi-level marketing scheme, and even deceptively-advertised Internet speeds. In addition, the Commission initiated its second action using the new Made in USA rule, shortly after the first one—this time against an apparel company. The agency also ordered divestment of a subsidiary in a medical device company’s acquisition in the sinus field and sought public comments on the updates to the Energy Labeling Rule. Further, the Senate may begin working to restore the FTC’s power to obtain equitable monetary relief for consumers in federal court. These stories and more after the jump. …
For the first time, the FTC used its new Made in USA rule to go after a battery manufacturer. The rule, enacted last summer, gives the agency power to seek civil penalties, injunctive relief, and other remedies against companies who use a “Made in USA” label in a misleading way. The FTC also received a request from the House of Representatives to look into a NFL team’s potentially illegal business practices, and the agency attempted to put a positive spin on a recent DOJ criminal wage-fixing case. These stories and more after the jump. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 11-15, 2022)
This week, the FTC announced that it reached settlements with a state real estate board and an international online business coaching organization. It also announced that millions of dollars in refunds would be made available following a win at trial against a private website attempting to assist consumers with government services. The conduct ranges from allegedly anticompetitive behaviors in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act as well as false and deceptive marketing and advertising practices. These stories and more after the jump. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 1-8, 2022)
The FTC kicked off the week with a fresh batch of warning letters and followed this up with a pair of complaints related to deceptive marketing. Just in time for the busiest part of tax season, the FTC has filed administrative and federal complaints against Intuit, manufacturers of the popular TurboTax software. The Commission also entered into a record-breaking settlement with a multistate car dealer over alleged deceptive sales tactics, some of which were racially discriminatory. Finally, action in the Senate this week indicates that the long-vacant fifth Commissioner position may finally fill. These stories and more after the jump. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (March 28 – April 1, 2022)
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection issued a number of press releases regarding advertising and marketing practices in the fashion, finance, and the dietary supplement industries. The agency finalized a settlement over false and suppressed endorsement reviews. It also obtained injunctions over allegations ranging from false claims of removing negative information from credit reports to false health claims related to dissolvable film strips. The Commission also proactively issued warning letters to companies allegedly selling and advertising COVID-19 treatments.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (March 21-25, 2022)
The FTC had a busy week in the consumer protection realm. The agency settled with several companies over allegations ranging from shoddy data security to a full-on credit card laundering scam. Chair Khan and DOJ Assistant AG Kanter have remained busy in their efforts to gather information on merger guidelines, and, in case there wasn’t enough on the FTC’s plate, a U.S. Senator has asked the agency to dig up evidence of wrongdoing in the gas and oil markets. More on all of this after the jump.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (March 14-18, 2022)
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive/Misleading Conduct on Online Stock Trading Site
- The FTC is requiring RagingBull.com, an online stock trading site, to pay $2.425 million and to implement tactics that end the alleged deceptive acts, require affirmative approval from consumers signing up for a subscription, and provide consumers with a simple method of cancelation. According to FTC allegations, the online stock trading site used bogus earnings claims to trick consumers into signing up for services and then trapped them in hard to cancel subscription plans. More specifically, RagingBull.com allegedly made claims that consumers who followed the advice and trade recommendations of its “gurus” could “double or triple” their trading accounts quickly and easily. The FTC complaint further alleges that the defendant included testimonials from purported customers claiming to have made significant amounts of money in short periods of time, e.g., “$6500.00 in 20 minutes.” The complaint noted that Raging Bull’s services, which costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, were set up as recurring subscriptions that are charged quarterly or annually, and that subscribers faced significant hurdles in preventing those recurring charges. The FTC took issue with the allegedly different cancellation requirements that each service had. The proposed order comes on the coat-tail of the FTC’s efforts to crackdown on false earnings claims, returning millions to consumers and requiring click-to-cancel online subscriptions.
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.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Privacy, Security, and Identity Theft
- The Commission has released a new data book aggregating information from 2021 consumer reports about fraud, identity theft, and similar topics in the field of consumer protection. The FTC received over 5.7 million reports in 2021, and the reports reflected a combined loss of over $5.8 billion dollars, a staggering 70% increase over 2020. Of these reports, approximately half pertained to fraud, and one in four fraud reports also reported monetary losses. The most common type of fraud reported was an imposter scam, where a scammer posing as a trusted friend or government agency asks for money. Within the realm of identity theft, which made up 25% of consumer reports, the most common type of theft related to misuse of personal information to apply for government documents or benefits, such as unemployment. The data book also breaks down the most common types of reports within each state and includes appendices listing major data contributors, descriptions of report categories, and a comparison of the various report categories over the past three years. The actual consumer reports are uploaded to the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database used by law enforcement to identify suspicious trends and business practices.