|FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community.
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
IN THIS ISSUE...Vol 8 No 11 November 2009
New and Revised Materials for Consumers
Tip of the Month -- NET CETERA
ENDORSEMENTS. The FTC has updated its Guides on how advertisers
can keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in sync with the
FTC Act. The Guides are administrative interpretations of the
law: one updated provision specifies that bloggers who endorse a
product or service must disclose the material connections they
share with the seller of the product or service.
WIRE TRANSFERS. MoneyGram International, Inc., the
second-largest money transfer service in the U.S., will pay $18
million in consumer redress and implement a comprehensive
fraud-monitoring program to settle FTC charges that its agents
helped fraudulent telemarketers trick people into wiring more
than $84 million. According to the FTC, MoneyGram knew that its
system was being used to defraud people but did very little
about it. Indeed, the FTC alleged that MoneyGram knew that 131
of its more than 1,200 agents accounted for more than 95 percent
of the fraud complaints it received in 2008 about money
transfers to Canada.
PRIVACY. Six businesses have agreed to settle FTC charges
that they falsely claimed they were abiding by an international
privacy framework in keeping with EU and U.S. law. According to
the FTC complaints, the companies -- World Innovators, Inc.;
ExpatEdge Partners LLC; Onyx Graphics, Inc.; Directors Desk LLC;
Collectify LLC; and Progressive Gaitways LLC -- lied about
having current certifications from the relevant government
departments in the US and Europe.
THE REAL DEAL. The FTC seeks public comment on proposed
amendments to the "Free Credit Report Rule" that would require
certain ads for "free credit reports" to include prominent
disclosures to prevent confusion about the federally mandated
free annual credit reports available through an official source,
AnnualCreditReport.com (or 877-322-8228). The Commission also
proposes an amendment to delay advertising for fee-based
products until after people have gotten their free annual credit
WHO'S CALLING? Two telemarketing operations must stop tricking
people into buying overpriced magazine subscriptions and
worthless medical discount plans - and must pay more than $2
million in consumer redress. The FTC charged that U.S. Magazine
Services and its principal misled consumers by understating the
monthly charges for its subscriptions. In addition, the FTC got
a default judgment against Union Consumer Benefits and its
owner, Naeem Alvi, who were charged with marketing worthless
medical discount packages and tricking elderly people into
revealing their bank account information.
CHOICEPOINT. ChoicePoint, Inc., one of the nation's largest data
brokers, has agreed to strengthen its data security requirements
to settle FTC charges that it failed to implement a
comprehensive information security program to protect peoples'
sensitive information, as required by a previous court order.
The security failure allowed a data breach in 2008 that
compromised the personal information of 13,750 people and put
them at risk of identify theft.
DEBT COLLECTION: A VIDEO ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS. Video highlights the
rights of debtors and the rules for debt collectors. English and
Spanish. DVD. 2:13.
MONEY TRANSFERS CAN BE RISKY BUSINESS. Describes common money
transfer scams and warns people not to wire money to someone
they don't know. 8.5"x11", 3 pages.
THE BOTTOM LINE ABOUT MULTILEVEL MARKETING AND PYRAMID SCHEMES.
Explains how to spot the warning signs of an illegal pyramid
scheme and gives tips on evaluating the trustworthiness and
value of a multilevel marketing opportunity. 8.5"x11", 4 pages.
The following events are free, open to the public and will be
held at the FTC Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.,
Washington , DC . No pre-registration required. A live webcast
of each will be available at
FUTURE OF NEWS MEDIA. The FTC will hold a workshop on Dec.
1-3 about the future of the news media in the internet age,
titled "From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism
Survive the Internet Age?" Participants, including journalists,
representatives of news and new media organizations, privacy
experts, direct marketers, online advertisers, academics, and
consumer advocates will examine the economics of journalism,
possible business and non-profit models for news organizations,
the role of targeted behavioral and other online advertising,
and whether any government actions might be advisable, such as
changes in the tax code, or additional copyright protection or
limited antitrust exemptions. For more information and to
find out more.
MERGER GUIDELINES. The FTC and U.S. Department of Justice are
seeking public comments and will hold five joint public
workshops to explore the possibility of updating the Horizontal
Merger Guidelines that are used by both agencies to evaluate the
potential competitive effects of mergers and acquisitions. The
first workshop will be held December 3. For more information,
find out more.
DEBT COLLECTION. The FTC will host a roundtable December 4 to
discuss protections for people who are being sued by debt
collectors. State court judges, government officials, debt
buyers and collectors, consumer attorneys and advocates,
academics, and other stakeholders will discuss service of
process, consumer default rates, time-barred debts, evidentiary
requirements in collection actions, and post-judgment issues.
Interested parties can submit written comments by November 30,
2009. For more information,
find out more.
PRIVACY. The FTC will host a series of public roundtables to
explore the privacy challenges posed by social networking, cloud
computing, online behavioral advertising, mobile marketing, and
the collection and use of information by retailers, data
brokers, third-party applications, and other businesses.
Participants -- academics, privacy experts, consumer advocates,
industry participants and others -- will discuss the risks and
benefits of information collection and use in online and offline
contexts, consumer expectations surrounding various information
management Practices, and the adequacy of existing regimens to
address privacy interests. The first roundtable will be held
December 7. For information about being a panelist, or to submit
an agenda topic or get a list of discussion questions,
find out more.
TIP OF THE MONTH - NET CETERA
Kids and parents have many ways of socializing and communicating
online, but they come with certain risks. Parents can reduce the
risks by talking to kids about how they communicate - online and
off - and helping kids engage in conduct they can be proud of.
In Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, the FTC
gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online
Net Cetera covers what parents need to know, issues to raise
with kids about living their lives online and where to go for
more information. This booklet encourages parents to talk to
their kids about conduct they can be proud of. Net Cetera covers
a variety of topics - from social networking to file sharing,
cyberbullying to sexting.
Read Net Cetera at
OnGuardOnline.gov and order free copies from
BulkOrder.FTC.gov. Get copies for schools and libraries in
your district, add a sticker to the booklet with your Member's
name, use sections in your constituent newsletter or on your
website, and link to the booklet. For more tips on using Net
Cetera in your district, contact Derick Rill at
NUMBERS TO KNOW
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Paul S. Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)
About the ICFE:
The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation). The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely.
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.
The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org). CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed. In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.
The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much. ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.
Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org. Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G, a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.