FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 5 - Number 10
IN THIS ISSUE
IDENTITY THEFT TASK FORCE. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras have announced the interim recommendations of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force, which is comprised of 17 federal agencies and departments. The Task Force will deliver a final strategic plan to the President in November. Press release: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/autos/gasave.htm
$87 MILLION IN CONSUMER REFUNDS. The federal district court in Chicago has ruled for the FTC in its case against the marketers of the Q-Ray ionized bracelet. The court found that advertising by Que Te Park and his companies which claimed that the bracelet provides immediate, significant, or complete pain relief, false and misleading. Once final, the order will require the defendants to turn over $22.5 million in net profits, pay up to $87 million in refunds to consumers, and impose a permanent injunction on the defendants to prevent such deceptive conduct in the future. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/09/qray.htm
RECORD CIVIL PENALTY. A federal judge has ordered Direct Sales International, a magazine subscription seller, to pay a civil penalty of more than $5.4 million and give up more than $1.6 million of ill-gotten gains for violating a 1996 FTC consent order and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). This is the largest civil penalty the FTC has ever obtained for a violation of a consent order in a consumer protection matter. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/09/prochnow.htm
COPPA ON THE BEAT. Social networking Web site operators Xanga.com, Inc. (and its principals) will pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle FTC charges that they allegedly violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and its implementing Rule. Xanga.com allegedly collected, used, and disclosed personal information from children under the age of 13 without first notifying parents and getting their consent. The penalty is the largest ever assessed by the FTC for a COPPA violation, and is more than twice the next largest penalty. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/09/xanga.htm
SPYWARE. Enternet Media, Inc (with its principals and related companies) will give up more than $2 million to settle FTC charges that it placed spyware on consumers’ computers in violation of federal laws. The FTC alleged that the defendants’ websites caused “installation boxes” to pop up on consumers’ computer screens, offering freeware -- music files, cell phone ring tones, or song lyrics. Instead, consumers' computers were infected with spyware, which was difficult to uninstall or remove, and which interfered with the computers' functioning. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/09/enternet.htm
'FREE GOVERNMENT GRANTS:' DON'T TAKE THEM FOR GRANT-ED. Alerts consumers to scammers who trick them into paying for non-existent government grants. 8.5"x11", 2 pages www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt134.htm
"GAS-SAVING" PRODUCTS: FACT OR FUELISHNESS? Cautions consumers about gas-saving claims for automotive devices or oil and gas additives. Offers practical steps to increase gas mileage. 8.5"x11", 4 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut10.shtm
MARK YOUR CALENDARS. The FTC will host three days of public hearings to examine evolving technology and consumer protection in the coming decade. The event will bring together experts from business, government and the technology sector, consumer advocates, academics, and law enforcement officials. The hearings will be held November 6-8 at the Lisner Auditorium of George Washington University and will be free and open to the public. On November 9, the FTC will host a non-public meeting of invited law enforcers and other government officials to examine the implications of emerging technologies on consumer protection in the coming decade. For more about the hearings: www.ftc.gov/techade. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2006/07/techade.htm
On Guard Online provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help computer users be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal information. On Guard Online has information on several online topics, including social networking sites, the hippest "meet market" around, especially among teens, tweens, and 20-somethings. While these sites can increase a person's circle of friends, they also can increase exposure to people with less-than-friendly intentions, including sexual predators. To test your online savvy, check out BUDDY BUILDER, On Guard Online's new social networking quiz: http://onguardonline.gov/socialnetworking.html
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