FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 8- Number 11
IN THIS ISSUE
ENDORSEMENTS. The FTC has updated its Guides on how advertisers can keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in sync with the FTC Act. The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law: one updated provision specifies that bloggers who endorse a product or service must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.
WIRE TRANSFERS. MoneyGram International, Inc., the second-largest money transfer service in the U.S., will pay $18 million in consumer redress and implement a comprehensive fraud-monitoring program to settle FTC charges that its agents helped fraudulent telemarketers trick people into wiring more than $84 million. According to the FTC, MoneyGram knew that its system was being used to defraud people but did very little about it. Indeed, the FTC alleged that MoneyGram knew that 131 of its more than 1,200 agents accounted for more than 95 percent of the fraud complaints it received in 2008 about money transfers to Canada. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/moneygram.shtm.
PRIVACY. Six businesses have agreed to settle FTC charges that they falsely claimed they were abiding by an international privacy framework in keeping with EU and U.S. law. According to the FTC complaints, the companies — World Innovators, Inc.; ExpatEdge Partners LLC; Onyx Graphics, Inc.; Directors Desk LLC; Collectify LLC; and Progressive Gaitways LLC — lied about having current certifications from the relevant government departments in the US and Europe. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/safeharbor.shtm.
THE REAL DEAL. The FTC seeks public comment on proposed amendments to the “Free Credit Report Rule" that would require certain ads for “free credit reports” to include prominent disclosures to prevent confusion about the federally mandated free annual credit reports available through an official source, AnnualCreditReport.com (or 877-322-8228). The Commission also proposes an amendment to delay advertising for fee-based products until after people have gotten their free annual credit report. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/freecredit.shtm.
WHO’S CALLING? Two telemarketing operations must stop tricking people into buying overpriced magazine subscriptions and worthless medical discount plans – and must pay more than $2 million in consumer redress. The FTC charged that U.S. Magazine Services and its principal misled consumers by understating the monthly charges for its subscriptions. In addition, the FTC got a default judgment against Union Consumer Benefits and its owner, Naeem Alvi, who were charged with marketing worthless medical discount packages and tricking elderly people into revealing their bank account information. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/telephoney.shtm.
CHOICEPOINT. ChoicePoint, Inc., one of the nation’s largest data brokers, has agreed to strengthen its data security requirements to settle FTC charges that it failed to implement a comprehensive information security program to protect peoples’ sensitive information, as required by a previous court order. The security failure allowed a data breach in 2008 that compromised the personal information of 13,750 people and put them at risk of identify theft. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/choicepoint.shtm.
DEBT COLLECTION: A VIDEO ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS. Video highlights the rights of debtors and the rules for debt collectors. English and Spanish. DVD. 2:13. www.ftc.gov/multimedia/video/credit/debt/debt-collection.shtm
MONEY TRANSFERS CAN BE RISKY BUSINESS. Describes common money transfer scams and warns people not to wire money to someone they don’t know. 8.5"x11", 3 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt034.shtm
THE BOTTOM LINE ABOUT MULTILEVEL MARKETING AND PYRAMID SCHEMES. Explains how to spot the warning signs of an illegal pyramid scheme and gives tips on evaluating the trustworthiness and value of a multilevel marketing opportunity. 8.5”x11”, 4 pages. http://business.ftc.gov/documents/inv08-bottom-line-about-multi-level-marketing-plans.
The following events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the FTC Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. A live webcast will be available at www.ftc.gov.
FUTURE OF NEWS MEDIA. The FTC will hold a workshop on Dec. 1-3 about the future of the news media in the internet age, titled "From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?" Participants, including journalists, representatives of news and new media organizations, privacy experts, direct marketers, online advertisers, academics, and consumer advocates will examine the economics of journalism, possible business and non-profit models for news organizations, the role of targeted behavioral and other online advertising, and whether any government actions might be advisable, such as changes in the tax code, or additional copyright protection or limited antitrust exemptions. For more information and to comment, visit www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/news/index.shtml.
MERGER GUIDELINES. The FTC and U.S. Department of Justice are seeking public comments and will hold five joint public workshops to explore the possibility of updating the Horizontal Merger Guidelines that are used by both agencies to evaluate the potential competitive effects of mergers and acquisitions. The first workshop will be held December 3. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/bc/workshops/hmg/index.shtml.
DEBT COLLECTION. The FTC will host a roundtable December 4 to discuss protections for people who are being sued by debt collectors. State court judges, government officials, debt buyers and collectors, consumer attorneys and advocates, academics, and other stakeholders will discuss service of process, consumer default rates, time-barred debts, evidentiary requirements in collection actions, and post-judgment issues. Interested parties can submit written comments by November 30, 2009. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/debtcollectround/index.shtm.
PRIVACY ROUNDTABLES. The FTC will host a series of public roundtables to explore the privacy challenges posed by social networking, cloud computing, online behavioral advertising, mobile marketing, and the collection and use of information by retailers, data brokers, third-party applications, and other businesses. Participants — academics, privacy experts, consumer advocates, industry participants and others — will discuss the risks and benefits of information collection and use in online and offline contexts, consumer expectations surrounding various information management practices, and the adequacy of existing regimens to address privacy interests. The first roundtable will be held December 7. For information about being a panelist, or to submit an agenda topic or get a list of discussion questions, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/privacyroundtables/index.shtml.
Kids and parents have many ways of socializing and communicating online, but they come with certain risks. Parents can reduce the risks by talking to kids about how they communicate – online and off – and helping kids engage in conduct they can be proud of. In Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, the FTC gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online world.
Net Cetera covers what parents need to know, issues to raise with kids about living their lives online and where to go for more information. This booklet encourages parents to talk to their kids about conduct they can be proud of. Net Cetera covers a variety of topics – from social networking to file sharing, cyberbullying to sexting.
Read Net Cetera at www.OnGuardOnline.gov and order free copies from http://bulkorder.ftc.gov. Get copies for schools and libraries in your district, add a sticker to the booklet with your Member’s name, use sections in your constituent newsletter or on your website, and link to the booklet. For more tips on using Net Cetera in your district, contact Derick Rill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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