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ICFE eNEWS #17-28 - July 31th 2017

Penn Corner  - FTC update

Penn News for July 2017

News from the Federal Trade Commission

Paint Companies Settle with FTC over Safety Claims
Four paint companies settled FTC charges that they deceptively promoted their paints as emission-free or containing zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during and immediately after application. Some of the defendants also made explicit safety claims regarding babies, children, pregnant women, and other sensitive populations. But the FTC says these statements were based on tests that weren't consistent with how the paints are actually used. Under the terms of the settlement, the companies agreed to stop making unqualified emission-free and VOC-free claims and other unsubstantiated health and environmental claims. Also, two of the companies agreed to disclose that seals appearing in their promotional materials are actually their own designs.

FTC Says Company Illegally Sold Personal Data
Blue Global Media, LLC and its CEO agreed to settle FTC charges that the company misled borrowers into filling out loan applications on its websites, then sold personal information on the applications to anyone looking for sales leads. The websites that collected applicant data offered services to people seeking a variety of loans, and claimed the company would connect each applicant to lenders offering the best terms. However, the FTC says the defendants did not match applicants with lenders based on these criteria and, instead, sold applications to whomever offered to buy them.

FTC Stops Operation Falsely Billing Businesses
The FTC reached a settlement agreement with a telemarketing operation for allegedly tricking small businesses, non-profit organizations, and others into paying for overpriced office and cleaning supplies they never ordered. According to the FTC, the defendants - operating under several different names - had telemarketers offer to send the business "free samples" or catalogs. The defendants allegedly sent light bulbs and cleaning supplies without having disclosed any prices, then later, sent invoices for amounts far above the market price for these items. Businesses that paid, mistakenly thinking the invoices were valid, received more shipments of unordered merchandise and invoices seeking payment

Deceptive Business Coach Operation Shut Down
The FTC reached a settlement with a group of companies and individuals that allegedly used deceptive marketing tactics that robbed aspiring business owners of millions of dollars. According to the FTC, the defendants promised business coaching services that would help people earn lots of money. People paid thousands of dollars for the so-called services to start their internet business, but were only bombarded with more sales calls to buy still more services. Some of the defendants allegedly provided other telemarketers access to people's information.

Alimentation Couche-Tard to sell Fuel Stations
Convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard (ACT) Inc. agreed to sell retail fuel stations to Empire Petroleum Partners to settle FTC charges that its proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of competitor CST Brands, Inc. would violate federal antitrust law. ACT operates 4,700 convenience stores and retail fuel stations under the Circle K and Kangaroo Express banners, and CST operates 1,146 stores under the Corner Store banner. To preserve competition, the FTC order requires ACT to sell 70 CST fuel stations in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas.

"Military.consumer.gov has helpful tips for you - whether you're just starting out, managing your money during a deployment, or transitioning to a civilian career."
- Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen on Military Consumer website

Alleged Mobile Cramming Operation Settles with FTC
Multiple defendants settled FTC allegations that they placed more than $70 million in unauthorized charges on consumers' phone bills. According to the FTC's complaint, the massive landline cramming operation charged anywhere from about $10.00-$25.00 per month for voicemail services that people neither signed up for nor knew they had until the bills came.

FTC Says Scheme Collected Fake Debts from People
A North Carolina-based debt collector allegedly bought phony payday loan debts through a debt broker and continued to collect on those debts even after learning the debts were fake. Almost immediately after the company started collecting on the loans, consumers provided evidence they didn't owe the debts. But even when the defendants got refunds for the phony debts they bought and were told to stop collecting the debts, the defendants kept collecting from people for several more months.

FTC Launches New Resources for the Military
The FTC released a new video and Military Consumer Facebook page promoting the Military Consumer website. The video features Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and two FTC staff members who are veterans. The Military Consumer website, video and Facebook page all encourage servicemembers and their families to use the tools to manage their money, avoid scams and understand their rights as servicemembers.

Money Back
Devry Refunds
The FTC mailed 173,000 refund checks totaling more than $49 million to students whom DeVry University allegedly misled about the likelihood of finding jobs in their field of study and the income level they could achieve upon graduation.

Goldman Schwartz Refunds
The FTC is mailing 4,380 checks totaling more than $550,000 to people harmed by Houston-based Goldman Schwartz, Inc., a debt collection operation that also used other business names, including Cole, Tanner & Wright and Harris County Check Recovery. The FTC sued Goldman Schwartz for multiple law violations, including making false threats, and collecting bogus attorney's fees and other unauthorized charges. The defendants are banned from the debt collection business under a settlement with the FTC.

Information Management Forum Refunds
The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 338 checks totaling more than $319,000 to people who lost money to Information Management Forum Inc., which also operated under several other names. The FTC says the defendants tricked consumers into paying "registration fees" for their timeshare resale services.

FTC Returns Money to Victims of Auto Loan Modification Scheme
The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 288 checks totaling more than $109,000 to people who paid an up-front fee to Regency Financial Services, which promised to get them better terms for their auto loans. According to the FTC, the company and its CEO, Ivan Levy, did not provide the promised services and failed to honor their "money-back guarantee."

FTC and Other Consumer Protection Agencies Unveil Updated Website for International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network
FTC Provides Comments Supporting Federal Communications Commission Initiatives to Allow Providers to Block More Illegal Calls
FTC Announces Regulatory Reform Measures Ranging from TVs and Textiles to Energy Labels and Email

Say scram to cramming on your mobile bill #unauthorizedcharges
Stand up to #fakedebtcollectors
Protect your small or big business from #businessscams

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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 and founder of the College for Financial Planning in Denver, CO.) The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending practices, 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 financial continuing education courses programs and resources. In addition to eight Certification courses covering identity theft, credit files, credit repair and credit scoring, among others, it also 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 is a partner with the national Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy and the California Jump$tart chapter. The ICFE staff is also active with San Diego Saves and Military Saves, both offshoots of America Saves.

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.

The ICFE 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 library, a free eNews service, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools in the ICFE Book Store.

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