FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 7 - Number 3
IN THIS ISSUE
HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO. BlueHippo Funding, LLC, and BlueHippo Capital, LLC, will pay at least $3.5 million (and up to $5 million) in consumer redress to settle FTC charges that they didn't disclose finance terms (including their no-refund policy) before consumers made non-refundable payments to them for computers and electronics. Many consumers paid hundreds of dollars and received nothing. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/bluehippo.shtm.
$8 MILLION in REDRESS. At the FTC's request, a district court has ordered Holiday Enterprises, Inc., and its principals to pay $8.98 million in consumer redress for pitching fraudulent display rack business opportunities to consumers. According to the FTC, the defendants lied to buyers about the location and earning potential of the ink cartridge display racks, and used shills to reinforce their false claims. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/holink.shtm.
BLOCKING COMPETITORS. The FTC has charged Cephalon, Inc., with illegal conduct to prevent competition for its branded drug, Provigil, which is used to treat patients with sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and shift-work sleep disorder. According to the FTC, Cephalon paid four firms not to sell generic versions of the drug. No other generic company could enter the market until all four firms relinquished their marketing exclusivity or one of them entered the market. In effect, the payments would have allowed Cephalon to prevent any generic version of Provigil from being sold until 2012. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/ceph.shtm.
TOP COMPLAINTS. For the eighth year in a row, identity theft topped the list of fraud complaints consumers filed with the FTC. ID theft accounted for 32 percent of the more than 813,000 complaints received in 2007. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/fraud.shtm.
CAN-SPAM-A-LOT. At the FTC's request, a federal district court has ordered Sili Neutraceuticals, LLC, its principal, and an affiliate to pay $2.5 million in consumer redress for violating federal law. The court found that the defendants falsely claimed that hoodia products cause permanent weight loss and that HGH products reverse the aging process, in addition to sending illegal marketing emails. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/sili.shtm.
BUSINESS INFORMATION SECURITY. The FTC, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, and Northwestern University Law School will co-host a workshop on how businesses can secure their customers' and employees' sensitive information. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held April 15, in the Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern University Law School. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/data.shtm.
The following FTC events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the FTC's Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, DC. A government-issued ID is required for entry. A live Webcast of each event will be available at www.ftc.gov.
GREEN GUIDES. This workshop, to be held April 30, will examine developments in --- and consumer perceptions of --- green packaging claims. Interested parties have until April 11 to file comments for discussion at the workshop. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/greenguides.shtm.
MOBILE MARKETPLACE. This two-day meeting, to be held May 6-7, will explore consumer protection issues in mobile and wireless commerce. Interested parties may submit written comments or original research until March 17. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/02/townhall.shtm.
EXTRA! EXTRA! COUNT ON SCAMMERS AND SCHEMERS TO FOLLOW THE NEWS. Warns consumers that scammers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration may call or email asking for personal or financial information to deposit a government rebate check directly. The scammers then use that information to commit identity theft. 8.5"x11", 1 page. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt033.shtm.
PUTTIN' ON THE GLITZ: WHAT TO KNOW WHEN SHOPPING FOR JEWELRY. Provides tips to help jewelry shoppers, particularly those looking for gold, watches, gemstones, pearls, or diamonds. 8.5"x11", 1 page. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt011.shtm.
Foreclosure scams come in many forms, but at the heart of each is a false promise that the firm will save the consumer's home. The FTC urges consumers who are looking for foreclosure prevention help to avoid any company that:
guarantees to stop the foreclosure process --- no matter what your circumstances
instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer, or credit or housing counselor
collects a fee before providing you with any services
encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time
tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than to your lender
tells you to transfer your property deed or title to it
The FTC says that consumers having trouble paying the mortgage or who have gotten a foreclosure notice should contact their lender immediately. They may be able to negotiate a new payment schedule. Legitimate help is available through the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), a nonprofit organization that operates the national 24/7 toll-free hotline (1.888.995.HOPE) with free, bilingual, personalized assistance to help at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure.
To learn more, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre42.shtm.
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