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ICFE eNEWS #17-18 - May 4th 2017

Penn Corner  - FTC update

Penn News for April / May 2017

News from the Federal Trade Commission

Promoter Scammed, Threatened Inventors, FTC Says
The FTC charged World Patent Marketing with deceiving people who paid it thousands to patent and market their inventions. World Patent Marketing allegedly used fake "success stories" and testimonials to lure consumers, strung them along for months - even years - and ultimately didn't deliver what it promised. The FTC said many people ended up in debt or lost their life savings. And, says the FTC, when these consumers complained, the company threatened to have them prosecuted. A federal court has temporarily stopped the Florida-based operation and frozen its assets. The FTC seeks to make this shutdown permanent and return money to consumers.

"This case is about protecting innovators, the engine of a thriving economy. The defendants promised to promote people's inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return. Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained."
- Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Acting FTC Chairman, on World Patent Marketing case

FTC: Municipal Debt Collector Made Illegal Threats
The FTC reached a settlement with a company collecting debts for more than 500 municipalities. American Municipal Services (AMS) allegedly made false threats and misrepresented itself to get people to pay court fines, parking tickets, and other debts. The FTC says AMS threatened people with arrest, having their driver's licenses suspended, their vehicles impounded, and their debts reported to credit bureaus. But, according to the complaint, AMS had no authority to jail people and didn't know if municipalities actually planned to take these actions. In addition to stopping these activities, the order requires AMS to give up collection fees it obtained using these tactics.

Used Auto Dealers Allegedly Downplayed Recalls
CarMax, Asbury Automotive Group and West-Herr Automotive Group settled FTC charges that, while boasting how thoroughly they inspect their used cars, the companies did not adequately disclose that some of the cars were subject to safety recalls. The FTC got a court order prohibiting the companies from misrepresenting key facts about the safety of the vehicles they advertise. The companies also must tell people how they can determine a vehicle's recall status and inform customers that vehicles purchased as far back as July 1, 2013 may be subject to open recalls.

FTC Says Online Marketers Deceived Shoppers
The FTC charged an online marketing group with baiting consumers by promising "free" and "risk-free" trials for merchandise and subscription services, only to later charge them for related fees without their consent. According to the FTC, the defendants asked for people's credit card information - ostensibly to cover shipping and handling charges for the "free" merchandise and services. But, the complaint alleges, the companies deceived consumers by not making it clear they would charge consumers' cards if they did not cancel the "free trial" or return the "free" products. The FTC says the marketers also misrepresented their return, refund and cancellation policies.

DaVita Will Sell Clinics to Settle FTC Charges
National dialysis chain DaVita, Inc. will sell seven clinics - five in New Jersey and two near Dallas, Texas - to settle FTC charges that its $358 million acquisition of competitor Renal Ventures Management, LLC would lead to higher prices or poorer service for dialysis patients in those areas. Hemodialysis is a life-saving therapy for patients with end-stage renal disease, many of whom are very ill, making it difficult for them to travel too far from their homes for treatment. As a result, competition between dialysis clinics in local areas is important to keep prices down and service levels high. To preserve competition, DaVita agreed to sell clinics located in Brick, Clifton, Somerville, Succasunna, and Trenton, New Jersey, and in the Dallas-area markets of Denton and Frisco.

Amazon In-App Case Ends; Refund Process to Start
The FTC and Amazon.com Inc. agreed to end litigation around last year's court findings that the company billed consumers for unauthorized in-app charges. This decision enables the consumer refund process to begin in the coming months. More than $70 million in charges may be eligible for refunds.

FTC Releases 2016 Annual Highlights
Returning nearly $12 billion to consumers and taking on more than a dozen merger cases to preserve a competitive marketplace are among the FTC's many accomplishments in 2016. The agency's Annual Highlights give an overview of its work in protecting consumers over the previous year.

Sage Auto Group Will Pay $3.6 Million to Settle FTC Charges
Los-Angeles-based Sage Automotive Group agreed to pay more than $3.6 million in redress to consumers to settle FTC charges that it used deceptive sales and financing practices, advertising, and online reviews.

Your Money Back

Rincon Management Refunds
The FTC is mailing 5,232 checks totaling more than $2.7 million to people who lost money to Rincon's debt collection scheme. People are getting back the full amount of fraudulent fees the company imposed, an average of $525.

Fair Guide Business Directory Refunds
The FTC is mailing 974 checks totaling more than $535,000 to businesses and nonprofit organizations that lost money to the Fair Guide business directory scheme, which tricked them into paying for online directory listings they didn't want. Organizations that lost money are getting back an average of $549.

Payday Support Center Refunds
The FTC is mailing 561 checks totaling more than $148,000 to people who lost money to Payday Support Center, a debt relief scheme that targeted people with outstanding payday loans. Per a federal court order, defendants may no longer promote or sell debt relief services. People who lost money will get back an average of $264.

FTC Testifies Before Senate on Efforts to Combat Fraud
Membership Reward Service Upromise Penalized for Violating FTC Order
Office Supply Operators Banned from Telemarketing to Settle FTC Charges
FTC Returns Money to Victims of Debt Relief Scheme
More >

It's illegal for #DebtCollectors to lie or harass you. Read how the law protects you from debt collection abuse. https://go.usa.gov/xXs5V
"Free" trials can wind up costing you big. The #FTC has tips on avoiding #HiddenCosts behind free trial offers. https://go.usa.gov/xXsUw
Looking to start a business? Great! Just be sure to spot and avoid #BusinessScams and empty promises of help. https://go.usa.gov/xXsUH
Before you buy a car, check it out thoroughly for recalls and other safety issues. #BuyingaVehicle https://go.usa.gov/xXsPw

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Sent by:

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.

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