Showing posts from January, 2021

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FTC Sends More Than $250,000 in Additional Refunds to Victims of Mortgage Modification Scheme

The Federal Trade Commission is sending a third round of checks totaling more than $250,000 to victims of a mortgage modification scheme dating back to 2009. The FTC began mailing refunds in this matter in 2012 . In total, the FTC has distributed more than $900,000. According to the FTC, First Universal Lending, LLC, Sean Zausner, David Zausner, and David J. Feingold deceived distressed homeowners with phony claims that they would negotiate with lenders to modify their mortgages. The FTC charged that the defendants encouraged homeowners to stop making mortgage payments, saying lenders would not negotiate unless they were at least a few months behind in their payments. After charging consumers up to $7,000 in up-front fees, the defendants did little or nothing to help them. The FTC is providing $253,615 in refunds to 6,935 victims. Those who receive checks should deposit or cash their checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or p

FTC Marks Identity Theft Awareness Week with Events to Help Consumers Identify Risks of Identity Theft During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Federal Trade Commission is launching Identity Theft Awareness Week, February 1-5, 2021, with a series of events to highlight steps consumers can take to help reduce their risk of identity theft and recover if identity theft occurs. Identity theft happens when someone steals personal information about you such as your Social Security number or credit card information, and uses it to commit fraud. Reports about any type of identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints submitted to the FTC through the third quarter of 2020. As part of Identity Theft Awareness Week, the FTC will participate in webinars and other events to highlight what you can do to protect your personal information, red-flag warning signs of possible identity theft, and steps to take if identity theft happens to you. Events include a webinar on Monday, February 1, with Identity Theft Resource Center and FTC experts discussing identity theft during the pandemic, and a Facebook Live discussion on Thursda

FTC Returns More Than $482 Million to Consumers in 2020

FTC law enforcement actions lead to refunds to more than 1.6 million consumers nationwide New data released by the Federal Trade Commission shows that FTC actions led to more than $482 million in refunds to consumers across the country in 2020. A core part of the FTC’s mission is to return money to consumers who have been harmed by fraud or other illegal business practices. More than 50 different FTC cases resulted in distributions to consumers in 2020. The FTC Act allows the FTC to seek refunds from companies whose actions harm consumers. During 2020, more than 1.6 million consumers received refunds from the FTC as a result of law enforcement cases. The FTC usually sends refunds to consumers by check, but in 2020, the agency also issued PayPal payments to consumers in 11 cases. By sending electronic payments, the FTC made it possible to get money back to people even when their physical mailing address information was not available.  When consumers don’t cash their refund chec

FTC Brings First-Ever Cases Under the BOTS Act

Ticket brokers will face partially suspended judgment of more than $31 million in civil penalties The Federal Trade Commission is taking legal action against three ticket brokers based in New York who allegedly used automated software to illegally buy up tens of thousands of tickets for popular concerts and sporting events, then subsequently made millions of dollars reselling the tickets to fans at higher prices. The three ticket brokers will be subject to a judgment of more than $31 million in civil penalties for violating the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, under a proposed settlement reached with the FTC. Due to their inability to pay, the judgment will be partially suspended, requiring them to pay $3.7 million. This is the first case brought under the BOTS Act, which was enacted in 2016 and gives the FTC authority to take law enforcement action against individuals and companies that use bots or other means to circumvent limits on online ticket purchases. “These ticket broke

At FTC’s Request, Court Finalizes Orders and Monetary Judgments against Ringleaders of the Sanctuary Belize Real Estate Investment Scheme

Andris Pukke, Peter Baker Ordered to Pay $120.2 Million A federal district court entered final orders against the three primary individual defendants—Andris Pukke, Peter Baker, and Luke Chadwick, and related corporations—in the Federal Trade Commission’s case involving the allegedly deceptive sale of real estate properties in Belize to U.S. consumers. The orders announced today finalize a September 2020 memorandum opinion requiring Pukke and Baker jointly to pay $120.2 million to the Commission—representing the amount of money consumers lost through the Sanctuary Belize real estate development scheme—with Chadwick also jointly responsible for $91.9 million of that amount. The FTC plans to use the money collected to provide refunds to defrauded consumers. The court’s final order against Pukke, Baker, and Chadwick also bans Pukke from selling or assisting others in selling most real estate, and ban all three defendants from any involvement with Sanctuary Belize or related entities in t

A house is condemned when the government deems it to be unfit to live in.

No one is allowed to live in or use the property because it is a safety hazard.  If there are occupants living in the house at the time it is condemned, they will need to move and cannot return unless necessary renovations are made to the house to address the reasons it was condemned.

FTC Publishes Annual Performance Report

The Federal Trade Commission published its Fiscal Year 2020 Performance Report as required under the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010. The report documents the progress made by the Commission in achieving the mission and performance goals established in the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Performance Plan. Also, as required by the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act during a transition in administration, the Commission will submit its Fiscal 2021-2022 Performance Plan along with its Fiscal Year 2022 budget request in support of the President’s FY 2022 budget for the federal government later this year. The Commission vote to submit the Performance Report  to Congress was 5-0 The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition , and protect and educate consumers . You can  learn more about consumer topics  and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at . Like the FTC on Facebook , follow us on Twitter , read o

#EAT in #SEO stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

EAT has an important role in determining where your business website to be placed on the Google result page.

FTC Comment to Department of Veterans Affairs Supports Agency’s Interim Final Rule on VA Professionals’ Authority to Practice Health Care

The Federal Trade Commission staff has submitted a comment to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  in response to its request for comment on its Interim Final Rule titled Authority of VA Professionals to Practice Health Care . The comment supports the Rule, which confirms the VA’s current practice of allowing licensed VA health care professionals to deliver health care services in a state other than the health care professional’s state of licensure, and also confirms the VA’s authority to establish national standards of practice for health care professionals in all VA medical facilities. As the comment explains, the COVID-19 public health emergency, for which the VA has had to rapidly deploy licensed health care professionals to locations where they may not be licensed, has highlighted the need for this regulatory preemption. By improving access to care, avoiding delays in care, and potentially improving outcomes, the Rule benefits veterans, especially those at underserved locati

Developer of Popular Women’s Fertility-Tracking App Settles FTC Allegations that It Misled Consumers About the Disclosure of their Health Data

The developer of a period and fertility-tracking app used by more than 100 million consumers has settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that the company shared the health information of users with outside data analytics providers after promising that such information would be kept private. The proposed settlement  requires Flo Health, Inc. to, among other things, obtain an independent review of its privacy practices and get app users’ consent before sharing their health information.  “Apps that collect, use, and share sensitive health information can provide valuable services, but consumers need to be able to trust these apps,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are looking closely at whether developers of health apps are keeping their promises and handling sensitive health information responsibly.” In its complaint , the FTC alleges that Flo promised to keep users’ health data private and only use it to provide the app’s services t

California Company Settles FTC Allegations It Deceived Consumers about use of Facial Recognition in Photo Storage App

A California-based developer of a photo app has settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that it deceived consumers about its use of facial recognition technology and its retention of the photos and videos of users who deactivated their accounts.  As part of the proposed  settlement , Everalbum, Inc. must obtain consumers’ express consent before using facial recognition technology on their photos and videos. The proposed order also requires the company to delete models and algorithms it developed by using the photos and videos uploaded by its users. “Using facial recognition, companies can turn photos of your loved ones into sensitive biometric data,” Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “Ensuring that companies keep their promises to customers about how they use and handle biometric data will continue to be a high priority for the FTC.” Everalbum offered an app called “Ever” that allowed users to upload photos and videos from their mobile devic

Don’t Wear the Same #Mask All Day

If you go out in public multiple times a day with a stop at home in between, it's a good idea to be safe and change masks for each trip. 

Calgary pastor says church will continue to break #COVID-19 restrictions

FTC Requires Mobile Advertising Company to Stop Misleading Users About In-Game Rewards

Tapjoy got hundreds of thousands of complaints about failure to provide rewards promised to consumers, agency alleges A California-based mobile advertising company has settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that it failed to provide in-game rewards users were promised for completing advertising offers. As part of the proposed settlement , Tapjoy, Inc., is prohibited from misleading users about the rewards they can earn and must monitor its third-party advertiser partners to ensure they do what is necessary to enable Tapjoy to deliver promised rewards to consumers. Tapjoy operates an advertising platform that works within mobile games by promising in-game virtual currency—such as gold bars or diamonds—to users who complete activities including purchasing a product, signing up for a free-trial offer, providing personal information (for example, an email address), or taking a survey. In its complaint , the FTC alleged that Tapjoy, which earns commissions from third-party advertiser

A flow through share (FTS) is a share that has been issued by mining, oil, gas, or energy conservation company in Canada to help finance project development.

Flow-through shares (FTSs) Certain corporations in the mining, oil and gas, and renewable energy and energy conservation sectors may issue FTSs to help finance their exploration and project development activities. The FTSs must be newly issued shares that have the attributes generally attached to common shares.

Flow-through shares lock in your money for up to 2 years.

You can’t get your money out, no matter how the company is doing or what you need your money for.