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 6
IN THIS ISSUE
OPERATION TELE-PHONEY. The FTC and its partners have announced Operation Tele-PHONEY, the FTC’s biggest sweep of telemarketing fraud, involving more than 180 civil and criminal actions in the U.S. and Canada, including 80 U.S. state actions. According to the FTC, in its 13 cases, telemarketers cheated more than 500,000 consumers out of over $100 million. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/telephoney.shtm.
GIVING THEM THE BUSINESS. At the request of the FTC, a federal judge has ordered Bernard Fromstein and Judy Provencher to pay more than $49 million for their role in a Canada-based scheme that duped American businesses into paying for business directories and listings they didn't order. The pair are the remaining defendants in the Datacom Marketing, Inc. case, which was part of an international effort against cross-border fraud. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/datacom.shtm.
$26 MILLION SETTLEMENT. The marketers of a debit and credit card processing services operation have agreed to a judgment of $26 million to settle FTC charges that they deceived small businesses throughout the country. According to the FTC, Merchant Processing, Inc. (MPI) and its affiliates falsely promised to save merchants up to thousands of dollars a year in processing fees by offering rates lower than the merchants’ existing services. They also allegedly didn’t disclose fees and hid pages of fine print until after merchants had signed contracts. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/mpi.shtm.
GAS PRICES – SEEKING COMMENT. Under new authority granted by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the FTC seeks public comments on whether and in what ways the FTC should develop rules to define and prohibit market manipulation in the petroleum industry. File comments online until June 23 at www.ftc.gov/ftc/oilgas/index.html. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/anprfyi.shtm.
STOP RIGHT THERE. The FTC and the Virginia Attorney General sued in federal court to stop Inova Health System from buying Prince William Hospital. Inova already operates five hospitals in Northern Virginia and is the largest provider of hospital services in the area. Competition between hospitals helps keep health care costs down for employers and consumers, and the lawsuit seeks to stop the merger so that the FTC can review it. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/inovapi.shtm.
CONTACTLESS PAYMENT. The FTC and the Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic at the University of Washington Law School will host a one-day Town Hall meeting to explore the consumer protection implications of contactless payment devices. The Town Hall, which is free and open to the public, will be held July 24, 2008, in Room 133 of the University of Washington School of Law William H. Gates Hall, 15th Avenue NE & NE 43rd Street, Seattle. Contactless payment devices allow consumers to make low dollar-value purchases by using smart cards, key fobs, or mobile phones enabled with radio frequency identification ("RFID") technology. Those seeking to participate as panelists or recommend topics for discussion should send their request by June 6 to email@example.com. Written comments and original research are due by June 20. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/payonthego.shtm.
HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. The FTC testified before the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about the progress of its study about the use of credit-based insurance scores --- numerical summaries of one’s credit history --- in deciding whether to offer homeowners insurance and at what price. According to the testimony, the FTC will issue orders to the nine largest homeowners insurance companies to obtain data for its study. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/creditbased.shtm.
APPROPRIATIONS. The FTC testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Committee on Appropriations, requesting $256.2 million and 1,102 full-time equivalents (FTE) to accomplish the agency’s competition and consumer protection missions in fiscal year (FY) 2009. The request represents an increase of $12.3 million and 18 FTE over the agency’s FY 2008 appropriations and staffing levels. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/fy09.shtm.
THE 411 ON DISPOSING OF YOUR OLD CELL PHONE. Offers tips for erasing data and disposing of old cell phones and other mobile communication devices. 8.5"x11" 2 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt044.shtm.
"I'M FROM THE GOVERNMENT…": SWEEPSTAKES SCAMS FEATURE CON ARTISTS IMPERSONATING GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. Warns consumers that sweepstakes scammers may be impersonating government officials and offers precautions to avoid falling victim. 8.5"x11", 2 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt167.shtm.
WHO'S CALLING? RECOGNIZE & REPORT PHONE FRAUD. Explains how to recognize and report phone fraud and encourages consumers to register their number in the National Do Not Call Registry. 3.67"x8.5", 6 panels, color. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/telemarketing/tel19.shtm.
As part of the recent Operation Tele-PHONEY fraudulent telemarketing sweep, the FTC unveiled the "Who’s Calling?" consumer education campaign, which features a new website – in both English and Spanish – and two short videos located at www.ftc.gov/phonefraud and www.YouTube.com/ftcvideos. The FTC recommends consumers ask:
- Who’s calling - and why? If telemarketers don’t tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they’re selling before they make their pitch, say "no thanks" and hang up.
- What’s the hurry? Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time.
- If it’s free, why are they asking me to pay? Free is free. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize or a gift.
- Why am I "confirming" my account information – or giving it out at all? Don’t give it out unless you know who you are talking to and what you are buying.
- What time is it? The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Isn’t there a National Do Not Call Registry? Yes, and putting your number on the Registry will stop most telemarketing calls – but not all.
Consumers can report phone fraud online at www.FTC.gov or by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP. They can report violations of the National Do Not Call Registry online at www.DoNotCall.gov or by phone at 1-888-382-1222. It helps if they can supply the phone number or name of the company that called, and the date of the call.
For more tips on avoiding telemarketing fraud, visit www.ftc.gov/phonefraud.
FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.
Check out the CONGRESSIONAL RESOURCES portion of our website at
www.ftc.gov/ftc/congress.htm. No password needed to access.
ORDERING FTC's FREE CONSUMER INFORMATION
-- For one to 49 copies of FTC publications, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
-- For 50 or more copies of publications, visit www.ftc.gov/bulkorder
-- If you need a copy of any publication immediately, you can view, download, and print from www.ftc.gov
-- For special orders, email Derick Rill at firstname.lastname@example.org
To file a fraud complaint, visit www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
To subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter:
-- Send email to email@example.com with your name, Member or Committee affiliation, email address, and the word "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" in the body of the message.