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 2
IN THIS ISSUE
UNAUTHORIZED DEBITS. An operation marketing Visa- and MasterCard-branded prepaid debit cards to consumers in the subprime market will pay more than $2 million in consumer redress to settle FTC charges. According to the FTC, Acclaim Visa and its related companies debited a $159.95 "application and processing" fee from consumers’ bank accounts without authorization, including from consumers who didn't apply for the prepaid cards. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/01/cards.shtm.
LIFE IS GOOD. The FTC has settled its charges against an apparel company that collected sensitive consumer information and pledged to keep it secure but didn't. The FTC alleges that a hacker was able to access the credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes of thousands of the company's customers. The settlement requires Life is good, Inc. to implement a comprehensive information-security program with audits by an independent third-party security professional every other year for 20 years. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/01/lig.shtm.
IT'S FREEZING. The FTC is seeking comments on the impact and effectiveness of credit freezes as one approach to combat identity theft. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws giving consumers the right to place credit freezes, and each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies is offering a commercially-developed credit freeze option. A credit freeze may help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in consumers’ names, because businesses typically will not extend new credit without first viewing a consumer’s credit report. Comments must be received by February 25, 2008. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/freeze.pdf.
MERGER ABRIDGED: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld an FTC order to fix a 2001 merger between two makers of industrial storage tanks. The court endorsed the Commission’s view that new companies are not likely to enter into these markets to counteract harmful effects for customers. The FTC’s order requires Chicago Bridge & Iron Company to restore competition by selling off assets to create a viable competitor. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/01/cbi.shtm.
UNILATERAL EFFECTS THEORY WORKSHOP. The FTC will host a workshop to discuss the application of the unilateral effects theory to mergers of firms that sell competing but differentiated products. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held February 12, at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/unilateral.shtm.
THE KEYS TO HIRING A REPUTABLE LOCKSMITH. Describes what to consider when hiring a legitimate local locksmith. 8.5"x11", 2 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt032.shtm
MINIMIZING THE EFFECTS OF MALWARE ON YOUR COMPUTER. Urges parents and kids to talk about the risks involved in using social networking sites, and includes resources for learning how to use sites safely. 8.5 x 11, 4 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/tech/tec16.shtm.
TIP OF THE MONTH --- National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Financial Literacy: A Sound Investment
The 10th annual NCPW, a time to highlight consumer protection and education efforts across the country, will take place from March 2 to March 8, 2008. The FTC and its partners encourage people from coast to coast to master the financial facts of life. Financially savvy consumers are likely to make smarter decisions about managing their money, using credit wisely, and building a solid financial foundation for later. Every day, consumers conduct some type of financial transaction requiring an educated decision: shopping for a mortgage or auto loan; understanding and reconciling credit card statements and utility bills; choosing savings and retirement plans; comparing health insurance policies; understanding their credit report and how it affects their ability to get credit and on what terms; simply deciding how to pay for a purchase. Education is the first line of defense for consumers to manage their money wisely and protect themselves against frauds or rip-offs.
Check out the NCPW website, www.consumer.gov/ncpw, to find practical – and tactical – tips from NCPW partner organizations to show your constituents how to make well-informed financial decisions, avoid credit scams, and protect their personal information. The Outreach Toolkit has promotional materials you can download and use.
Mark your calendars for the NCPW Information Fair on February 15, 9:30 am to noon in the Rayburn Lobby. Get materials and ideas for town hall meetings in your District during NCPW and throughout the year. NCPW organizers have a variety of free resources to help you empower your constituents and community groups on how to manage their money, use credit wisely, and avoid scams and rip-offs. For more information on the Fair, call Derick Rill at (202) 326-3007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.
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www.ftc.gov/ftc/congress.htm. No password needed to access.
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