ICFE eNEWS #15-09 - March 25th 2015
FTC filed a complaint against DIRECTV, a national provider of home
satellite television services, for deceptively advertising a discounted
12-month programming package. According to the FTC, ads for the
programming package don't clearly disclose to customers that the
package requires a two-year contract. The complaint also alleges
DIRECTV does not clearly say that the package-s cost increases up
to $45 more per month in the second year of the contract - or that,
if you wanted to cancel before the end of the two-year period, you'd
pay fees of up to $480 to cancel the package.
FTC sponsors two robocall contests
part of a long-term effort to combat illegal robocallers, the FTC
announced two new contests. The first contest, Robocalls: Humanity
Strikes Back, challenges contestants to create a tool that people
can use to block or automatically forward unwanted landline or mobile
robocalls. These calls go to a honeypot, which is an information
system that researchers and investigators can use to analyze robocalls.
The second contest, DetectaRobo, challenges contestants to use honeypot
data to predict which incoming calls are robocalls. Visit www.ftc.gov/strikeback
and www.ftc.gov/detectarobo for more information.
Survey robocall hid telemarketing pitch
FTC and 10 state attorneys general took action against Florida-based
Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc. (CCL) and seven other companies. According
to the FTC, the companies violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule
by illegally using political survey robocalls to sell cruise vacations.
People who answered the calls heard a pre-recorded message asking
them to participate in a 30-second research survey. Those who "pressed
one" to get a two-day cruise to the Bahamas were connected to a
live telemarketer working for CCL, who tried to sell them cruise
Marketing Group, LLC, agreed to settle charges from the FTC and
the New York Office of the Attorney General that it deceived people
with its "buy-one-get-one-free" offers for "as-seen-on-TV" products.
According to the charges, the company didn't disclose the total
number of products people were buying, or all the related fees and
costs, and billed people without their consent. The FTC says that
Allstar offered the products to people who believed they were buying
items at the prices and quantities they saw advertised on TV. Instead,
people who called to order from Allstar were given a confusing sales
pitch that mislead them to buy more than what they wanted, and were
charged more fees than they bargained for. Allstar will pay $7.5
million for consumer refunds.
Premier Precious Metals refunds
FTC sent more than $2.4 million in refund checks to people harmed
by a Premier Precious Metals investment scam. The Commission alleges
that the company took millions of dollars from investors, including
many older people, by conning them into buying precious metals on
credit without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks. The
people affected will recover nearly 70 percent of the amount they
lost. If you get a refund check, be sure to cash it within 60 days
of the mailing date. And remember, the FTC will never ask you to
pay anything or give personal information before you can cash a
Cancer drugs stay competitive
pharmaceutical company Novartis AG has agreed to divest assets related
to two oncology drugs currently in development to settle FTC charges
that its $16 billion acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline's portfolio
of cancer-treatment drugs would likely be anticompetitive. Physicians
use BRAF and MEK inhibitors to treat melanoma, and both products
are also being developed to treat a variety of other cancers. According
to the FTC, if the acquisition went forward as proposed, Novartis
would likely have delayed or terminated development of both drugs,
raising prices for consumers and depriving them of potentially superior
Buying or selling online?
FTC has two new articles, Online Auctions for Buyers and Online
Auctions for Sellers, providing tips for people who want to buy
or sell using an online auction. For more free information on a
variety of consumer topics, visit consumer.ftc.gov.
"DIRECTV misled consumers about the cost of its satellite
television services and cancellation fees. DIRECTV sought to
lock customers into longer and more expensive contracts and
premium packages that were not adequately disclosed. It's a
bedrock principle that the key terms of an offer to a consumer
must be clear and conspicuous, not hidden in fine print."
— FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez
Double Shot refunds
The FTC mailed 11,585 refund checks totaling more than $464,000
to people who lost money buying dietary supplements deceptively
marketed as "fat burning" and "calorie blocking." According to the
FTC settlement, Manon Fernet and her company, the "Freedom Center
Against Obesity" falsely claimed that their Double Shot pills would
cause rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss without diet
or exercise. People receiving refund checks are encouraged to cash
them before they expire on April 21, 2015.
Melanoma app crackdown
Two companies – Heath Discovery Corporation and New Consumer Solutions
LLC, – that market MelApp and Mole Detective agreed to stop making
claims that their mobile apps could detect symptoms of melanoma.
According to the FTC, the apps instructed users to photograph a
mole with a smartphone camera and input other information about
the mole. The apps then claimed to calculate the mole's melanoma
risk. The FTC says the marketers lacked adequate scientific evidence
to support the claim.
Swatting mosquito repellent claims
According to the FTC, Viatek deceptively marketed Mosquito Shield
Bands, claiming that their mint oil wristbands would protect or
prevent users from being bitten by mosquitos. Viatek also claimed
their bands would create a five-foot vapor barrier and protect people
from being bitten for 96-120 hours. The FTC says the company did
not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up their
Weight-loss product scammers banned
Hispanic Global Way scammers have been banned from telemarketing
and selling weight loss products after the FTC said the company
charged Spanish-speaking consumers for unordered or defective products.
According to the FTC, the company shipped incomplete orders, wrong
or defective products, and products that did not perform as advertised
on TV. When people called to complain, telemarketers ignored or
insulted them. Some people were also told they couldn't return or
exchange products, or that they would have to pay a fee to do so.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- FTC, New York Attorney General Crack Down on Abusive Debt
- FTC Stops Automobile Shipment Broker from Misrepresenting
- FTC Sues to Stop Deceptive Debt Relief Operation
- Identity Theft Tops FTC's Consumer Complaint Categories
Again in 2014
- Beware of emails from the Bureau of Defaulters-FTC. The
FTC doesn't send emails like that to people. Report the scam.
- Imposter scams can happen to anyone. Here are the top ten
to look out for: http://go.usa.gov/3acVR
- Have questions about unwanted calls and the National Do
Not Call Registry? The FTC has answers. Check out
Federal Trade Commission | 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW | Washington
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Also, visit the ICFE's new Web site: StudentDebtHelp.org
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.