Showing posts from November, 2022

FTC Halts Debt Relief Scheme that Bilked Millions from Consumers While Leaving Many Deeper in Debt

The FTC has temporarily shut down a credit card debt relief scheme operated by Sean Austin, John Steven Huffman, and John Preston Thompson and their affiliated companies that allegedly took millions from people by falsely promising to eliminate or substantially reduce their credit card debt. “These defendants preyed on older Americans already struggling with credit card debt and caused them to fall into even worse debt, with lasting harm to their credit,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “We will continue going after companies that take advantage of people in financial distress.” Since 2019, Austin, Huffman, and Thompson have operated a network of companies incorporated in Tennessee, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming that have worked together as a common enterprise to support the defendants’ deceptive credit card debt relief scheme, the FTC alleged. Their companies have operated under multiple names such as ACRO Services, American Consume

FTC, Seven States Sue Google and iHeartMedia for Deceptive Ads Promoting the Pixel 4 Smartphone

The Federal Trade Commission and seven state attorneys general sued Google LLC and iHeartMedia, Inc. today for airing nearly 29,000 deceptive endorsements by radio personalities promoting their use of and experience with Google’s Pixel 4 phone in 2019 and 2020. Today’s proposed FTC orders and the state judgments settling the allegations bar Google and iHeartMedia from similar misrepresentations, and the state judgments also require them to pay $9.4 million in penalties. “Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine. “The FTC will not stop working with our partners in the states to crack down on deceptive ads and ensure firms that break the rules pay a price.” “It is common sense that people put more stock in first-hand experiences. Consumers expect radio advertisements to be truthful and transparent about products, not misleading wi

FTC, Wisconsin Attorney General Take Action Against Timeshare Exit Scammers for Cheating Consumers Out of $90 Million

The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission, and the Wisconsin Attorney General, filed suit today against Consumer Law Protection and related companies, along with their owners and operators, Christopher Carroll, George Reed, Louann Reed, Scott Jackson, and Eduardo Balderas for scamming consumers—mostly older adults—out of more than $90 million in a massive timeshare exit scam. “The defendants used scare tactics and high-pressure sales pitches to coerce seniors into forking over thousands of dollars for timeshare exit services they didn’t deliver,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC appreciates the partnership of the Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Attorney General in putting a stop to this scheme.” The Missouri-based scam has operated under a number of names, including Square One, Consumer Law Protection, Premier Reservations Group, Resort Transfer Group, and Timeshare Help Source. Since at least

FTC Releases Updated Do Not Call Registry Data Book; Impersonator Fraud Tops List of Consumer Complaints

The Federal Trade Commission today released the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2022 . The FTC’s National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry lets consumers add their phone number and choose not to receive most legal telemarketing calls. In the last fiscal year, over 2.5 million people signed up with the DNC Registry, bringing the total to more than 246 million phone numbers. Now in its fourteenth year of publication, the Data Book also provides the most recent fiscal year information available on robocall complaints, the types of calls consumers reported to the FTC, and a complete state-by-state analysis. According to the Data Book, complaints about imposter calls again topped the list, with almost 287,000 received during the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2022, including both live calls and robocalls. In such calls, imposters falsely pose as government representatives, such as the Social Security Administration or the IRS, legitimate business entities, o

FTC Secures Monetary Judgment in Deceptive Energy Savings Claims Case

In response to a Federal Trade Commission complaint , the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas ordered Superior Products International II, Inc. and the company’s CEO Joseph E. Pritchett to permanently halt the deceptive energy-efficiency claims they had been making about coating products sold for houses and other buildings. The court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Superior Products and Pritchett from misrepresenting the coatings’ insulating or energy-saving capabilities and imposed a monetary judgment of $14,182.95 against them. The FTC’s  complaint against the Kansas-based Superior Products and its officer, J.E. Pritchett , alleged that they market their Super Therm and Sunshield roof and wall coatings using deceptive energy-savings claims. Specifically, the complaint states the defendants falsely claim that the products provide significant energy savings of “between 40% and 70%” for consumers when applied to a home or other building. In issuing the opinion

FTC Explores Changes, Possible Expansion of Its Business Opportunity Rule

The Federal Trade Commission is exploring changes to the Business Opportunity Rule, seeking comment from the public on the rule’s effectiveness and a potential expansion to the rule to cover other types of money-making opportunities, such as coaching or mentoring programs, e-commerce opportunities, or investment opportunities. “The Commission is prepared to use every tool to ensure that companies can’t prey on consumers with false money-making opportunities,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “One key tool is our Business Opportunity Rule, and we want to hear from the public on how we can improve it.” The FTC is inviting the public to comment not only on the potential expansion of the rule, but also on the effectiveness of the existing rule, including whether it should be retained or eliminated, as well as other changes that should be made to the rule. The FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule was first adopted in 2012, making it easier for people to ge

FTC Takes Action to Stop DK Automation and Kevin David Hulse From Pitching Phony Amazon and Crypto Moneymaking Schemes

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against DK Automation and its owners, Kevin David Hulse and David Shawn Arnett for using unfounded claims of big returns to entice consumers into moneymaking schemes involving Amazon business packages, business coaching, and cryptocurrency. The FTC’s complaint  alleges that the defendants promised consumers that they could “generate passive income on autopilot” when the truth was that few consumers ever made money from these schemes. “DK Automation ripped off consumers by manipulating reviews and making empty promises of big returns on cryptocurrency investment schemes and bogus business programs," said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "They ignored warnings that these practices were illegal, and now they are paying the price.” A proposed court order would require the defendants to turn over $2.6 million to be used to refund consumers harmed by their deception, as well as requiring them to s

FTC Extends Deadline by Six Months for Compliance with Some Changes to Financial Data Security Rule

The Federal Trade Commission today announced it is extending by six months the deadline for companies to comply with some of the changes the agency implemented to strengthen the data security safeguards financial institutions must put in place to protect their customers’ personal information. The deadline for complying with some of the updated requirements of the Safeguards Rule is now June 9, 2023. The Safeguards Rule requires non-banking financial institutions, such as mortgage brokers, motor vehicle dealers, and payday lenders, to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive security program to keep their customers’ information safe. The Commission is extending the deadline based on reports, including a letter from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, that there is a shortage of qualified personnel to implement information security programs and that supply chain issues may lead to delays in obtaining necessary equipment for upgrading security systems. The

FTC Returns More Than $9.8 Million To Consumers Harmed by Napleton Auto’s Junk Fees and Discriminatory Practices

The Federal Trade Commission is sending payments totaling more than $9.8 million to consumers who were harmed by Illinois-based Napleton Automotive Group’s junk fees and discriminatory practices. The agency is sending 66,355 checks, averaging $147 each. Recipients should cash checks within 90 days. Consumers who have questions about their refund should call the refund administrator, Epiq, at 1-888-691-6050. The Commission never requires people to pay money or provide account information to get a refund. The FTC and the State of Illinois sued Napleton Automotive Group in March 2022 , alleging that Napleton employees were sneaking illegal junk fees for unwanted “add-ons” onto vehicle purchases and discriminating against Black consumers. According to the joint complaint, eight of the company’s dealership illegally tacked on junk fees for unwanted “add-on” products such as payment insurance and paint protection, costing consumers hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The complaint als

Hard Reset FITBIT Versa 2

First, turn on the watch. After that swipe left on the screen until you see the Settings icon. Once in Settings, scroll down and tap on the About. Next, scroll down and find Factory Reset. Finally, tap Reset to confirm and start the resetting process. Wait until FITBIT logo appears on the screen.

FTC Action Against Vonage Results in $100 Million to Customers Trapped by Illegal Dark Patterns and Junk Fees When Trying to Cancel Service

The Federal Trade Commission has stopped internet phone service provider Vonage from imposing junk fees and creating obstacles to those who try to cancel their service. The FTC alleges that the company used dark patterns to make it difficult for consumers to cancel and often continued to illegally charge them even after they spoke to an agent directly and requested cancellation. Under the proposed court order, Vonage will be required to pay $100 million in refunds to consumers harmed by the company’s actions, make its cancellation process simple and transparent, and stop charging consumers without their consent. “Today the FTC delivers on our commitment to protect consumers from illegal dark pattern tactics by companies that prevent consumers from cancelling their services,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This record-breaking settlement should remind companies that they must make cancellation easy or face serious legal consequences.”

How to Specify Default Profile to Open Links for Microsoft Edge

Open Microsoft Edge. Click on the menu button with three dots. Select Settings from the menu. In Settings, click on Profiles on the left. On the right, click on Multiple profile preferences. On the next page, select the profile you will use for opening external links under Default profile for external links.