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 10
IN THIS ISSUE
A BEAR. The Bear Stearns Companies, LLC and its subsidiary, EMC Mortgage Corporation, agreed to pay $28 million to settle FTC charges that they misrepresented the amounts borrowers owed, charged unauthorized fees, and engaged in abusive collection practices in servicing home mortgage loans. The settlement requires them to develop a program to ensure the accuracy and completeness of consumers’ loan information. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/emc.shtm.
AMERIDEBT. The FTC returned approximately $12.7 million to about 287,000 AmeriDebt consumers from a settlement with Andris Pukke and his companies, AmeriDebt, Inc. and DebtWorks, Inc., concluding the FTC’s largest credit counseling/debt management deception case. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/ameridebt.shtm.
CANCER TREATMENT SCAMS. The FTC has charged 11 companies with making unsupported claims that their products cured or treated one or more types of cancer. Six companies settled the charges; the remaining cases are in litigation. The products the companies marketed include essiac teas and other herbal mixtures, laetrile, black salve (a corrosive ointment), and mushroom extracts. These cases began through an Internet surf conducted by the FTC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Competition Bureau Canada in June 2007. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/boguscures.shtm.
TELEMARKETING FRAUD. A Florida District Court has ordered Financial Advisors & Associates Inc. and its principal James Sweet, doing business as Freedom Financial, to pay nearly $1 million in redress to consumers. Sweet’s operation used fraudulent telemarketing to sell advance-fee credit cards. Before getting their card, consumers had to pay a fee — 10 percent of the credit line, that was debited from their bank accounts. The credit cards could be used only to buy goods from the defendants’ catalog and website. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/tsrdnc.shtm.
ASSAULT AND BATTERIES. The FTC has charged that the consummated merger of two battery separator makers reduced competition and led to higher prices in violation of the antitrust laws. The FTC filed an administrative complaint challenging Polypore International, Inc.’s February 2008 purchase of Microporous Products L.P and seeking to restore Microporous as a viable competitor. Battery separators are key components of flooded lead-acid batteries used in cars, forklifts, backup generators, and golf carts. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/polypore.shtm.
ON THE RECORD. The FTC challenged the merger of two leading providers of electronic public record services sold to law enforcement customers. According to the FTC, Reed Elsevier Inc.’s proposed $4.1 billion deal with ChoicePoint Inc. would be anticompetitive and lead to higher prices and less innovation for an important tool law enforcers use to fight terrorism, locate fugitives, and detect illegal drug transactions. The proposed order requires the divestiture of ChoicePoint’s AutoTrackXP and CLEAR assets to preserve competition. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/choicepoint.shtm.
PART 3. The FTC is seeking comment on proposed amendments to Parts 3 and 4 of the agency’s Rules of Practice, intended to expedite adjudicative proceedings, improve the quality of adjudicative decision-making, and clarify the roles of the Administrative Law Judge and the Commission. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/nprmpt3.shtm.
In September the FTC testified on the following topics:
PREPAID CALLING CARDS. The FTC told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that pending legislation would benefit consumers by providing an additional remedy. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/ppcfraud.shtm.
CALL CENTER. The FTC testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection about legislation which would require call center employees to disclose, in telephone calls with consumers, the physical location of the call center. Press release: www./ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/callcenter.shtm.
FOOD MARKETING. The FTC reported to two subcommittees of the Senate Appropriations Committee about the results of an FTC study on food marketing to children and adolescents that found that in 2006, 44 major food and beverage marketers spent $1.6 billion to promote their products to children. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/foodmarketing.shtm.
SMALL BUSINESS. The FTC told the House Committee on Small Business that small businesses benefit from the Commission’s goal of ensuring an open and honest marketplace where all businesses can compete. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/smallbiz.shtm.
The FTC is hosting the following workshops at its Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, DC. The workshops are free and open to the public. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry.
HART-SCOTT-RODINO. The FTC will host a half-day workshop on the basics of the U.S. premerger notification program on October 23, in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The workshop is a primer for new attorneys on the basics of the premerger notification process, including how to determine whether premerger notification is required and how to prepare an HSR filing. Pre-registration is now open and is limited to practitioners with less than one year of experience with premerger notification rules and filings. For more information or to preregister, visit www.ftc.gov/bc/workshops/hsr. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/09/hsrwksp.shtm.
HEALTH CARE. The FTC will hold two public workshops and roundtables this fall to examine emerging health care competition and consumer protection issues. The dates of the events are to be determined. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/08/hcissues.shtm.
On The Road
The FTC and the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law will co-host a free public workshop, “Protecting Personal Information: Best Practices for Business.” Presented in partnership with the International Association of Privacy Professionals, it will feature business people, attorneys, government officials, privacy officers, and other experts who will provide practical guidance for businesses of all sizes on how to develop an appropriate data security program and how to respond to data breaches. The workshop will be held on the campus of SMU Dedman School of Law -- in Storey Hall’s Karcher Auditorium, 3315 Daniel Avenue, Dallas, Texas, starting at 9:30 a.m. Onsite registration begins at 9:00 a.m. To pre-register, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/infosecurity.
HURRICANE RECOVERY. Microsite with important information about scams hurricane victims may encounter. Includes tips on preparing for and recovering from a hurricane, and links to other organizations that have important information about relief for hurricane victims. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/recovery/hurricane/index.html.
TELEVISION IS GOING DIGITAL: GET THE PICTURE. What you need to know about the transition to digital television on February 17, 2009, how to prepare your TVs, and how to get a digital converter box. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/articles/naps33.pdf.
If you or someone you care about has cancer, the last thing you need is a scam. That’s why the FTC has launched its new website, www.ftc.gov/curious, with important information about products advertised on the internet that claim to treat or cure cancer. Visit the site for information on cancer treatment scams, download or embed a 90-second video that shows the signs of these scams, or grab the web buttons and free content for your site, blog, newsletter, or magazine. Link your Member’s site to www.ftc.gov/curious and share these free resources with your constituents and colleagues.
Curious about cancer treatments? To learn more, visit www.ftc.gov/curious.
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