FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you—and your constituents—can use.
Volume 4 – Number 2
IN THIS ISSUE
BUSINESS FLOP-ORTUNITIES. The FTC and law enforcement agencies -- both federal and from 14 states -- have taken action against more than 200 operations for promoting fraudulent business opportunity and work-at-home schemes. In the FTC’s cases alone, the defendants caused tens of thousands of consumers to lose a total of more than $100 million. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/bizoppflop.shtm
CAP CITY. Capital City, a mortgage lender and servicer, settled FTC charges that it deceptively induced consumers into taking loans secured by their homes, overcharged borrowers, and, in some instances, caused consumers to lose their homes. The settlement requires them to pay consumer redress and other monetary relief totaling at least $750,000. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/capitalcity.shtm
FIRST DO NOT CALL SETTLEMENTS Two timeshare sellers and their telemarketer will pay more than $500,000 to settle FTC charges that they violated the Do Not Call Rule by calling thousands of consumers who placed their phone numbers on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/bragliaflagship.shtm
ECONSUMER.GOV. The FTC and consumer protection agencies around the world are offering a new tool to help consumers resolve cross-border disputes. The International Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directory contains contact information for dispute resolution service providers that can help consumers resolve problems with foreign sellers, regardless of the seller’s location. The directory is available on econsumer.gov, a site operated by consumer protection agencies in 20 countries. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/internationaladr.shtm
TOP 10. The Federal Trade Commission released its annual report detailing consumer complaints about identity theft and listing the top 10 categories of fraud-related complaints filed with the FTC in 2004. For the fifth year in a row, identity theft topped the list of complaints, accounting for 39% of the more than 600,000 consumer fraud complaints filed with the agency last year. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/top102005.shtm
EYES HAVE IT. A dietary supplement promoter agreed to pay $450,000 to settle FTC charges that they made unsubstantiated advertising claims that their product – Premier Formula for Ocular Nutrition-Optim3 – can restore vision lost from age-related macular degeneration and eliminate floaters (small specks moving in the field of vision.) Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/hihealth.shtm
NEW & REVISED CONSUMER EDUCATION
TAKE CHARGE: FIGHTING BACK AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT (formerly ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name) Revised booklet helps consumers remedy the effects of ID Theft, describes what steps to take, consumers' legal rights, and how to handle specific problems on the way to clearing their name. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idtheft.shtm
DIPLOMA MILLS: DEGREES OF DECEPTION. Alert informs consumers of the claims that could indicate a diploma mill. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt149.shtm
SETTING GOALS FOR WEIGHT LOSS (in Spanish) Como Establecer Objetivos para Perder Peso. Brochure provides guidelines for setting weight-loss goals. www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/spanish/health/s-setgoals.shtm
BIZ OP RIP-OFFS
Consumers who would like to be their own boss, work from home, or just earn some extra cash may be tempted by ads for a business opportunity, like medical billing, envelope stuffing at home, or pay phone/vending machine routes. The rewards sound appealing but the they're not always accurate. The FTC offers information on how to recognize a fraudulent business opportunity:
- Test your Biz Op Savvy: Would you buy Sundae Station? www.wemarket4u.net/sundaestation/
- Send the FTC Biz Op ecard to your colleagues and constituents so they'll know what to look for when evaluating a business opportunity claim: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/ecards/bizopps/fairytale.shtm
- Get tips and other helpful information on how to protect yourself from phony business opportunities: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/bizopps/index.shtm
NUMBERS TO KNOW
FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.
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