FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 6 - Number 8
IN THIS ISSUE
DECEPTIVE TELEMARKETER. At the FTC’s request, a federal district court in Florida has stopped a massive telemarketing scheme that allegedly tricked consumers into revealing their bank account information. According to the FTC, Suntasia Marketing, Inc, which operated under at least 15 different business names, used negative option programs to defraud consumers across the U.S. out of millions of dollars. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/suntasia.shtm.
CREDIT-BASED INSURANCE SCORES. The FTC has released a study that found that credit-based insurance scores are effective predictors of the claims that consumers will file and the use of scores likely leads to African-Americans and Hispanics paying relatively more for automobile insurance than non-Hispanic whites and Asians. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/facta.shtm.
NOT SO SWEET. A candy vending machine operation will pay $122,000 in consumer refunds to settle FTC charges that it violated federal laws by promising customers big incomes and prime machine locations, and hiring shills to reinforce the false earnings claims. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/routewizard.shtm.
PHONE-Y CREDIT CARDS. A federal district court has stopped a cross-border advance-fee telemarketing scheme and ordered its corporate officers to pay nearly $10 million. According to the FTC, the defendants, Centurion Financial Benefits LLC, defrauded consumers with pitches for nonexistent credit cards. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/centurion.shtm.
SUBPRIME LENDING. The FTC will work with two federal agencies and two associations of state regulators on an innovative pilot project to conduct compliance reviews of non-depository lenders with significant subprime mortgage operations. By coordinating the review, the agencies will be better able to evaluate subprime mortgage lending practices across a broad range of mortgage lenders and others in the industry. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/subprime.shtm.
FINANCIAL SERVICES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS. The FTC testified on its enforcement of laws against lending discrimination and predatory lending, its use of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, its lending enforcement program, its consumer education efforts, and interagency coordination. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/hdma.shtm.
OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE. The FTC described how spyware or adware may come bundled with peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, and discussed the work the FTC has done to protect consumers from these risks. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/07/p2p.shtm.
DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES. The FTC will host a workshop October 10-11 to examine how changes in the debt collection industry have affected consumers and businesses. Consumer advocates, industry representatives, and regulators will discuss the way technology and economic trends have changed how consumer debts are collected, and the extent to which the law has kept pace with developments during the past 30 years. The workshop is free and open to the public; it will be held at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/fdcpawkshop.shtm.
NEW AND REVISED CONSUMER AND BUSINESS PUBLICATIONS
¡OJO! New issue (Vol. 3, No. 2) of bilingual Hispanic outreach newsletter which covers identity theft outreach, and gives tips about laptop security and protecting sensitive personal information. 8.5" x 11", 4 pages, color. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/newsletters/ojo/0302.pdf.
THE COOLING-OFF RULE: WHEN AND HOW TO CANCEL A SALE. Explains your three-business-day right to cancel purchases, if they’re $25 or more and made in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. 8.5" x 11", 4 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/products/pro03.shtm.
TIP OF THE MONTH – AUTO PILOT? RENTING A CAR
It’s the time of year to hit the road and get away. Renting a car can be confusing and expensive if you don’t understand industry terms and how fees are calculated. Here are some tips from the FTC when you're reserving a rental car:
- Before you reserve, think about the size car you want or need and how much you’re willing to spend.
- Call several rental car companies for price estimates and see if they offer weekly or weekend deals.
- Ask if the company checks the driving records of potential customers, even after confirming your reservation. If so, they may reject some customers --- even if you have a confirmed reservation.
- Ask if there may be charges that could increase an advertised base rate. Fees include Collision Damage Waiver, refundable charges, and airport surcharges.
For more information on how to choose a rental car company and understand the terms and conditions, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut07.shtm.
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