ICFE eNEWS #16-11 - April 25th 2016
Penn Corner April 2016 - Update from the Federal Trade Commission
Volkswagen's "Clean Diesel" Claims
The FTC filed a complaint against
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
for making deceptive advertising claims about its diesel engine
automobiles. Under its Volkswagen and Audi brands, Volkswagen allegedly
sold or leased more than 550,000 vehicles with concealed, illegal "defeat
devices." The defeat devices contained software hiding the
fact that the vehicles' emissions greatly exceeded government emissions
standards. VW extensively promoted its "Clean Diesel"
vehicles as environmentally friendly, having low emissions, and
being legally compliant.
Lord & Taylor's Paid Advertising Ploy
According to an FTC complaint,
Lord & Taylor failed to reveal that it paid 50 fashionistas
and an online fashion magazine to praise one of its dresses on Instagram
and in an online article, all as part of an ad campaign. The FTC
says what looked like independent reviews actually were ads dressed
up as honest opinions, with no mention that these were paid promotions.
The FTC's proposed settlement prohibits Lord & Taylor from misrepresenting
paid advertising as independent, objective opinions.
Deceptive Cancer Charities Settle Charges
Cancer Fund of America (CFA) and
Cancer Support Services (CSS) agreed to settle charges brought
by the FTC, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia that, while
those two groups claimed to help cancer patients, they actually
spent the overwhelming majority of donations on their operators,
families and friends, and fundraisers. According to the order, CFA
and CSS will shut down and their assets will be liquidated. There
also is a judgment against CFA, CSS, and their leader, James Reynolds,
of $75,825,653 - the amount consumers donated between 2008 and 2012.
"The FTC and our state enforcement partners have ended
a pernicious charity fraud that syphoned hundreds of millions of
dollars away from well-meaning consumers, legitimate charities,
and people with cancer who needed the services the defendants falsely
- Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau
of Consumer Protection
All-Natural Personal-care Products?
Four companies agreed to settle
charges that they misrepresented their skin care products, shampoos,
and sunscreens as "all natural" or "100% natural,"
when they actually contained synthetic ingredients. The FTC says
the claims appeared in both product labels and product ads. The
companies have agreed to proposed orders to stop saying a product
is 100% natural unless they have reliable evidence to back up the
claim. The orders also would require proof for any claims the companies
make about a product's environmental or health benefits. The proposed
orders are subject to public comment through May 12, 2016, after
which the Commission will decide whether to make the orders final.
The Commission issued a complaint against a fifth company, California
Naturel, seeking the same relief.
FTC Says Company Blocked Access to Low-Cost Pain Meds
The FTC charged Endo Pharmaceuticals
Inc. and several other drug companies with violating antitrust
laws by using pay-for-delay settlements to block consumers' access
to lower-cost generic versions of two prescription pain medications,
Opana ER and Lidoderm. "This lawsuit reflects the FTC's commitment
to stopping pay-for-delay agreements that inflate the prices of
prescription drugs and harm competition, regardless of the form
they take," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. The FTC's case
seeks to stop the defendants' conduct, disgorge their ill-gotten
gains, and bar them from similar deals in the future.
In the Highlights
The FTC's Annual Highlights of
2015 shows the agency's accomplishments in enforcement, policy
and consumer education, as well as the top consumer complaints.
An infographic summarizes the work and complaint data for 2015,
including top complaints about debt collection, identity theft,
and imposter scams.
Fake Debt Collector Network Shut Down
The Illinois Attorney General and the FTC got a federal court in
Chicago to shut down a network
of fake debt collectors allegedly trying to collect phantom
debt that consumers don't actually owe. According to the FTC, the
defendants also provided the bogus debt portfolios to other collectors,
who then tried to collect on them.
Robocalling Pitchmen Take a Permanent Vacation
Orlando-based telemarketing company
USA Vacation Station settled
FTC charges that the company made millions of illegal robocalls
to sell vacation packages. Under the order, the company and its
owner are permanently banned from making robocalls.
Your Money Back
The FTC is returning money to people affected by three different
cases. Consumers never have to pay money or provide information
before they can cash refund checks from the FTC. Want information
about the FTC's refund program? Visit
$33,000 is going back to people who lost money to
Wealth Education, Inc., a
company that allegedly charged homeowners an up-front fee for mortgage
relief services they never received.
The FTC is mailing 1,701
checks totaling more than $596,000 to people who lost money to
Kirit Patel, Broadway Global Master
Inc. and In-Arabia Solutions Inc., which, the FTC says, ran
a deceptive debt collection scheme.
The FTC is also mailing 2,172
refund checks totaling nearly $210,000 to people who bought "disinfectant"
devices from Zadro Health Solutions,
Inc., which claimed their devices "safely kill 99.99%"
of targeted bacteria.
IN OTHER NEWS:
FTC Releases New Guidance For
Developers of Mobile Health Apps
FTC to Host Fall Seminar Series
on Emerging Consumer Technology Issues
FTC Issues Warning Letters Regarding
the Agency's Contact Lens Rule
Need #consumer publications? Visit
and order all you want - absolutely free!
Know someone new to
the U.S.? Help protect them from #scams.
Get FTC info for recent #immigrants &
Ready to hit the road? Check out these
tips on #carbuying.
almost here. Start scam-proofing
your #vacation with these tips. #scam
eNEWS is available FREE upon request by visiting our Web site and
filling out the contact
selecting "Yes" for "Add to Mailing List.
Please pass this eNEWS on to your peers and interested others and
invite them to subscribe
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.