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ICFE eNEWS #17-33 - October 24th 2017

Penn Corner  - FTC update

Penn News for October 2017

News from the Federal Trade Commission

FTC Files First Case Against Online Influencers
Two major social media influencers in internet gaming settled FTC charges that they endorsed online gambling service CSGO Lotto, without disclosing their joint ownership of the company. The influencers also failed to disclose that they paid other influencers thousands of dollars to promote CSGO Lotto on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The FTC says the influencers must disclose any future significant relationships with endorsers as well as any connections those influencers have to the products and services they promote. In addition, the FTC sent 21 warning letters to social media influencers that the agency contacted earlier this year regarding Instagram posts.

Tax Service Enabled Tax ID Theft, FTC Says
TaxSlayer, LLC, a Georgia-based online tax preparation service, said it will settle FTC charges that it violated federal financial privacy and security rules. The FTC says hackers were able to gain full access to nearly 9,000 TaxSlayer accounts between October 2015 and December 2015. The hackers allegedly used the information they accessed to file fraudulent tax returns in order to steal people's tax refunds. The FTC obtained a court order barring the defendants from further violating privacy and security laws.

FTC, AGs Say Lenovo Put Users' Privacy at Risk
The FTC and 32 state attorneys general say Lenovo, one of the world's largest computer makers, put people's login credentials, Social Security numbers, and financial information at risk when it pre-installed adware on some of its computers so it could sell products to consumers. Lenovo settled charges that the software it installed, VisualDiscovery, created serious security vulnerabilities in laptops it sold to people beginning in August 2014.

"Tax preparation services are responsible for very sensitive information, so it's critical they implement appropriate safeguards to protect that information. TaxSlayer didn't have an adequate risk assessment plan, and hackers took over user accounts and committed identity theft."
- Tom Pahl, Acting Director, FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection

Mars to Divest Vet Clinics per FTC Charges
Mars, Incorporated agreed to divest 12 veterinary clinics that provide specialty and emergency services to settle FTC charges that its $9.1 billion acquisition of pet care company VCA Inc. would violate federal antitrust laws. According to the FTC, the combination of Mars' BluePearl and VCA's clinics would reduce competition for certain specialty and emergency veterinary services by eliminating head-to-head competition between Mars specialists in the area and those of VCA. To preserve competition, Mars will divest 12 clinics serving Kansas City, New York, Phoenix, Chicago, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and the Washington, DC area.

Millions Look to FTC for Equifax Breach Info
The Equifax data breach resulted in millions of views of the FTC's consumer information. The FTC's blog post on the breach was the most-viewed of all .gov sites at times during the week of the breach. The post got as many as 11,000 page views per minute.

FTC Offers Advice to Hurricane Victims
In preparation for and response to September's hurricanes, the FTC released six blog posts and two infographics on how to prepare for, deal with, and recover from weather emergencies - including how to avoid and report clean-up, insurance and charity scams. In addition, the FTC collaborated with the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs to provide people with hurricane-related consumer information in Spanish.

Fighting Illegal Debt Collection...
At the FTC's behest, a federal court froze the assets of and temporarily stopped a North Carolina debt collection operation from allegedly intimidating and deceiving people so it could collect money for debts these consumers did not owe, or that the defendants had no right to collect. In another case, the FTC banned from debt collection the final defendant in a debt collection scheme that allegedly threatened and harassed consumers and their friends, family members and employers.

...and Shutting Down Scams
The FTC obtained a court order to stop G2 Consulting, LLC and its owner from committing alleged telemarketing schemes that allowed them to sell worthless business opportunities. In a separate case, the FTC ended a Peru-based telemarketing scheme that the agency says used deception and abuse to sell English learning products to Spanish-speaking consumers in the United States. Meanwhile, a federal court found Jet Processing Inc., and its owner liable for more than $280 million as a result of the IWorks scheme. IWorks' online campaign falsely told people that federal grants were available to them, that its product would help them earn sizable income, and for enrolling people in membership programs without clearly disclosing it would charge their accounts on a recurring basis.

Your Money Back
Centro Natural Refunds
The FTC is mailing an additional 2,158 checks totaling $279,134 to people who lost money to Centro Natural Corp and Sumore LLC. The first round of checks went out in November 2016. This additional mailing brings the total amount refunded to consumers to more than $819,000.

Advanced Tech Support Refunds
The FTC emailed notices to people who are eligible for partial refunds from this tech support scheme. If you received the email, use this online form to apply for a refund or call the refund administrator at 877-793-0908.

Trudeau Refunds
The FTC is mailing a second round of checks totaling approximately $2.7 million to 652,678 people who bought Kevin Trudeau's book The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You To Know About. The first round of checks went out in June 2016. This additional mailing brings the total amount refunded to consumers to $5.96 million.

Top Shelf Marketing Refunds
The FTC is mailing a second round of checks to people who lost money to Top Shelf Marketing. In October 2016, the FTC mailed refunds totaling nearly $1.2 million to 3,863 consumers. The remaining $154,000 in refunds is going to the 3,326 consumers who cashed their first check. People who cash both checks will receive a total of $355.48 in refunds.

FTC Obtains Court Orders Against Telemarketing Scheme That Falsely Pitched Money-Making Opportunities and Grants
FTC Helps Consumers Understand Affiliate Marketing in Online Advertising
Court Finds Defendants Lied to Consumers When Selling Legal Services for Mortgage Relief
More >

Watch where you click! #Scammers use links that download viruses and #malware to steal your info & harm your PC.
Fraud alert or credit freeze - which is right for you? #Equifax #databreach #identitytheft #idtheft
Check out this infographic to see how affiliate marketing works and why you should care.
Get information on preparing for, coping with and avoiding scams around #weatheremergencies
Don't be influenced by an influencer influenced by a paycheck. Learn more about #onlinereviews.

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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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