With the end of the fiscal year approaching, the FTC has been busy issuing multiple reports, plans, and resolutions related to its various powers and obligations, including a report to Congress on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). This story and more after the jump.
The FTC has placed Twitter in the hot seat again for privacy related practices that it alleges impacted over 140 million users. The Commission has also resolved actions pertaining to alleged magazine subscription scams and credit card laundering. In addition, the FTC is turning to the public to gather information regarding the recent infant formula shortage. These stories and more after the jump. …
The FTC, in partnership with the DOJ, filed a complaint against a Voice over Internet Protocol service provider for the transmission of millions of allegedly illegal prerecorded telemarketing robocalls. The company and its owner are now facing injunctive and monetary penalties. The Commission also announced its intentions to update the Telemarketing Sales Rule with a notice and advance notice of proposed rulemaking. More on these stories after the jump. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 25-April 29, 2022)
This week, the FTC cracked down on day-trading investment advertising and Chair Khan discussed the agency’s enforcement priorities, including the proliferation of non-compete agreements. The Commission tentatively announced it will discuss expansive changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule at its April 28 Open Commission Meeting. These stories and more after the jump.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 18-22, 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 8, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive and Misleading Conduct with Franchises, Business Opportunities, and Investments
The FTC has filed a complaint against Burgerim, a fast-food chain, alleging that the chain and its owner enticed more than 1,500 consumers to purchase franchises of the chain using false promises while withholding information required by the FTC’s Disclosure Requirements and Prohibitions Concerning Franchising (“Franchise Rule”). The FTC alleges that some of the false promises include recruiting potential franchisees, including veterans, by pitching the franchise opportunity as “a business in a box,” that required little to no business experience. According to the complaint, many consumers paid Burgerim between $50,000 and $70,000 in franchise fees and Burgerim pocketed tens of millions of dollars in such fees, despite the fact that the majority of the people who paid them were never able to open restaurants. …
Continue Reading FTC Updates (February 7-13, 2022)
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Consumer Protection: Advertising and Telemarketing
- The FTC finalized a settlement with New York-Based Lifewatch, Inc, an ambulatory cardiac monitoring service, which will result in paying back more than $1.8 million to consumers, including many older Americans. The FTC’s complaint, filed jointly with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, alleged that the defendants bombarded consumers with at least a billion unsolicited robocalls to pitch supposedly “free” medical alert systems. These pre-recorded messages claimed that Lifewatch’s medical alert system was endorsed or recommended by reputable organizations like the American Heart Association. The company’s telemarketers often told consumers that a medical alert system had been purchased for them, and they could receive it “at no cost whatsoever.” Consumers eventually learned that they were responsible for monthly monitoring fees and that it was difficult to cancel without paying a penalty. The defendants are also banned from telemarketing and misrepresenting the terms associated with the sale of any product or service.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Telemarketing and Do Not Call
- The FTC released the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2021. The Data Book provides the most recent fiscal year information available on robocall complaints, the types of calls consumers reported to the FTC, and a complete
Monday, October 25, 2021
Bureau of Competition and FTC Operations
- The FTC issued a policy statement restoring its pre-1995 practice of requiring parties under a merger consent decree to obtain the Commission’s permission before pursuing additional acquisitions in that market. This “Prior Approval” policy is designed to protect consumers and deter “clearly anticompetitive” deals, per Holly Vedova, the Director of the Bureau of Competition. The FTC will consider a number of factors when deciding whether to permit a deal, including (1) the nature of the transaction, (2) the level of market concentration and the degree to which the transaction increases market concentration, (3) the degree of pre-merger market power, (4) the parties’ history of acquisitiveness, and (5) evidence of anticompetitive market dynamics. The Commission approved the statement by a vote of 3-2; the Commissioners voting against the policy subsequently issued a dissenting statement.