ICFE eNEWS #16-19 - June 30th 2016
Penn Corner June 2016 - Update from the Federal Trade Commission
FTC Targets Student Loan Debt Relief Schemes
The FTC and the State of Florida sued Consumer Assistance Project
and Student Aid Center for student loan debt relief schemes. The
companies allegedly promised to get people out of student loan debt
or to get those debts significantly reduced through government programs.
However, people who paid the companies got virtually nothing for
their money. At best, loans were deferred or put into forbearance.
At worst, Student Aid Center told people to stop contacting their
lenders and pay the company instead, which made the situation worse.
"The FTC is not going to stand on the sidelines when
it uncovers evidence of fraudsters targeting students. Consumers
should be wary of any company that claims it can eliminate or greatly
reduce debt, especially if they ask for money in advance."
- Jessica Rich, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection
FTC Stops LearningRx "Brain Train" Promises in Their
LearningRx Franchise Corporation has agreed to settle FTC charges
that it falsely advertised its brain-training programs as able to
dramatically improve brain functions. Some ads even claimed its
programs could permanently beat symptoms of ADHD, autism, age-related
cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, strokes, and traumatic brain
injuries. But, despite ads saying "results are clinically proven,
scientifically measurable and permanent," the FTC says LearningRx's
claims were not backed by solid science.
FTC Says Fake Charity Claimed Donations Help Disabled Workers
The FTC sued and shut down American Handicapped and Disadvantaged
Workers, Inc. (AHDW) for pretending to be a charitable organization
and lying about how it used people's donations. According to the
complaint, AHDW's telemarketers - often claiming to be disabled
themselves - asked people to either give money or buy household
products to help pay wages for disabled AHDW employees. Callers
also promised a free gift as thanks for the donations. In reality,
says the FTC, most of the telemarketers weren't disabled, and only
a small portion of AHDW's earnings went to its few disabled employees.
And those unordered "gifts"? They came with invoices -
and harassing calls demanding payment.
Company Settles Charges about Privacy of Doctor Reviews
Practice Fusion settled FTC charges that it misled consumers
when seeking reviews for their doctors without adequately disclosing
their comments containing sensitive health information would be
posted publicly on the internet. According to the FTC, Practice
Fusion emailed surveys to patients after doctor visits, with the
aim of becoming an online healthcare provider directory, complete
with reviews. The emails appeared to be from patients' doctors,
and people likely thought they were communicating privately with
their physician. Then, says the FTC, Practice Fusion published information
about prescriptions, conditions, and procedures - and, in some cases,
included the person's full name, phone number, and other private
Spam Campaign Pitches Bogus Weight-Loss Products
The FTC charged an affiliate marketing operation with dishonestly
trying to sell weight-loss products by sending millions of consumers
spoofed, spam emails with links to fake news sites. The FTC says
the emails seemed to come from someone familiar, but actually came
from hackers. The emails linked to fake news sites with fictitious
articles and phony endorsements - even, supposedly, from Oprah -
and claims of huge weight-loss results. But, the FTC says, the claims
are not backed by solid science.
New Videos, Site Warn Consumers about Imposter Scams
To help people recognize and avoid some common imposter scams,
the FTC has created new resources. You can find new videos and articles
about spotting IRS imposters, romance scammers, tech support schemers,
and family emergency scammers. The videos and other information
are available in English or in Spanish.
Florida Energy Companies to Sell Pipeline Interests per FTC
Two energy companies, Energy Transfer Equity and The Williams
Companies, agreed to sell an interest in an interstate natural gas
pipeline to settle FTC charges that their merger would lead to higher
priced natural gas for Florida customers. Natural gas often is used
to generate electric power, but Florida has few local sources of
natural gas. Instead, utilities and other customers there depend
on pipelines to transport natural gas from out-of-state. The FTC's
order preserves competition by requiring the companies to sell certain
interests to a Commission-approved buyer.
FTC Says Gold, Silver Investment Outfit is Fraudulent
The FTC filed charges against a gold and silver marketing operation
for defrauding investors. The FTC says DiscountMetalBrokers marketed
gold and silver as investments, selling "at discount prices,"
yet failed to deliver. Many people used their retirement savings
to buy the precious metals, with individual orders ranging from
$1,000 to $300,000.
Company Settles Misleading Weight-Loss and Menopause Relief
Lunada Biomedical, Inc. has settled FTC charges that it deceptively
marketed a dietary supplement to perimenopausal and menopausal women,
making unsupported claims about its ability to help users lose weight
and relieve menopause-related symptoms. Among other things, the
order bars defendants from making unsubstantiated claims for any
Banned Mortgage Assistance and Debt Relief Operations
The FTC has created a list of mortgage and debt relief operations
that the FTC has asked the courts to permanently ban from the industry.
The FTC has sued over 500 companies and individuals who broke the
law, and banned nearly 300 of them.
Your Money Back
The FTC is returning money to people targeted by scams.
FTC recently settled a deceptive advertising lawsuit against Lumos
Labs, Inc., the marketers of the Lumosity brain-training program,
saying its claims about the program are not supported by science.
Affected consumers may apply online or complete this PDF form and
mail it to: FTC v. Lumos Labs, Inc. et al.; Refund Administrator;
P.O. Box 2008; Chanhassen, MN 55317.
The FTC is mailing 1,400
checks to people who paid for bogus cancer cures. Daniel Chapter
One and its principal, James Feijo, deceptively marketed the supposed
benefits of four dietary supplements - BioShark, 7 Herb Formula,
GDU, and BioMixx.
If you get a check, deposit or cash it within
60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to
pay money or to provide information before refund checks can be
cashed. Want information about the FTC's refund program? Visit ftc.gov/refunds.
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Charges in Ongoing Tech Support Scam Case
FTC Seeks Public
Input On Proposed Changes to the Fuel Economy Guide
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