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FTC Submits Statement to HHS on its Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices

The Federal Trade Commission responded to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ request for comment to its publication, Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs. The publication seeks to “increase competition and end the gaming of regulatory processes that may keep drug prices artificially inflated or hinder generic, branded, or biosimilar competition.” “The Federal Trade Commission is committed to maintaining competition in the pharmaceutical industry,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said. “The pharmaceutical industry provides American consumers with access to life-saving medicines and significantly affects our economy. Regulatory barriers and abuse of government processes that delay and constrain competition can lead to higher prices and reduce access to those medicines – all to the detriment of consumers. The FTC firmly believes that a vibrant, competitive marketplace offers the greatest benefits to consumers. The Commission’s comments are directed toward that goal.”The FTC comment focuses on two topics in the…

FTC to Send Refund Checks to Uber Drivers as Part of FTC Settlement

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing checks totaling $19,798,233 to drivers for Uber Technologies Inc., as part of a settlement with the Commission over allegations the ride-hailing company exaggerated the yearly and hourly income drivers could make in certain cities, and misled prospective drivers about the terms of its vehicle financing options.In its complaint, the FTC alleged, for example, that Uber falsely claimed on its website that uberX drivers’ annual median income was more than $90,000 in New York and over $74,000 in San Francisco. In fact, drivers’ annual median income in those cities was actually much lower and very few drivers—less than 10 percent—earned the yearly income Uber touted, according to the FTC.As part of a settlement with the FTC, Uber agreed to pay $20 million, which the FTC is using to send 88,799 checks to affected drivers. The average refund amount is $222.96, which is based on several factors, including…

Avoiding tech support scams

You’re working on your computer when, suddenly, a message pops up on the screen: “Virus detected! Call now for a free security scan and to repair your device.” That’s a tech support scam. Don’t call, text, or email. Legit tech support companies don’t operate that way.
Scammers pose as big-name companies and use pop-up messages, fake websites, and phone calls to trick you into thinking your computer has an urgent problem. Their plan is to get your money by selling you worthless software, enrolling you in fake programs, or getting you to pay for useless tech support. The scammers urge you to call a toll-free number immediately, threatening that you may lose personal data if you don’t.
When you call, the scammer might ask you to give them remote access, pretend to run a diagnostic test, or tell you they’ve found a virus or other security issue. They try to sell you…

FTC looks for revised Used Car Buyers Guides

The FTC’s Used Car Rule says that dealers have to display a Buyers Guide in every used car they have for sale, and give it to buyers after the sale. The FTC recently checked out how dealers are following that rule in 20 cities, visiting 94 dealerships, and inspecting more than 2325 vehicles.
The Guide, which was updated in 2016, tells you about the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the big problems you should look out for. It says whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty, and what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty. And it tells you to get all promises in writing.
Why check things out now? Well, dealers were required to start using the new version of the Guide on January 28, 2018. And here’s what we found. Of the more than…

FTC Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee on Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Federal Trade Commission testified today before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) remains a top priority, and outlined the agency’s efforts to educate consumers and businesses about the law’s requirements.Testifying on behalf of the Commission at a hearing on credit bureaus and the FCRA, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, noted that the Commission has played a key role in the implementation, enforcement, and interpretation of the FCRA since its enactment in 1970. The FCRA requires consumer reporting agencies to follow reasonable procedures to ensure they only provide consumer report information to those with a “permissible purpose” for receiving it; to maintain reasonable procedures to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of the information; and to allow consumers to dispute and correct information in their consumer reports. In the last decade, the FTC…

FTC, Partners Conduct First Compliance Sweep under Newly Amended Used Car Rule

All dealers are required to display a revised Buyers Guide on used vehicles for sale
The Federal Trade Commission, working jointly with 12 partner agencies in seven states, conducted the first compliance sweep of car dealerships since the amended Used Car Rule took effect earlier this year. Under the amended Rule, dealers must display a revised window sticker called a “Buyers Guide,” which contains warranty and other important information for consumers, on each used car they offer for sale.The compliance sweep was conducted between April and June 2018, in 20 cities nationwide. The inspectors found Buyers Guides on 70 percent of the more than 2,300 vehicles inspected, with almost half of those displaying the revised Buyers Guide. Of the 94 dealerships inspected, 33 had the revised Buyers Guide on more than half of their vehicles, and 14 had revised Buyers Guides on all of their used cars.Following the sweep, the FTC…

FTC Approves Final Order Imposing Conditions on Merger of Generic Drug Marketers Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC and Impax Laboratories Inc.

Companies will divest rights to 10 generic medications
Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that Amneal’s $1.45 billion acquisition of an equity share in Impax likely would be anticompetitive.According to the complaint, which was first announced in April 2018, the acquisition likely would harm current competition in U.S. markets for three generic products: desipramine hydrochloride tablets; ezetimibe and simvastatin immediate release tablets; and felbamate tablets.The acquisition also likely would harm future competition in U.S. markets for seven generic products: aspirin and dipyridamole extended release capsules; azelastine nasal spray; diclofenac sodium and misoprostol delayed release tablets; erythromycin tablets; fluocinonide-E cream; methylphenidate hydrochloride extended release tablets; and olopatadine hydrochloride nasal spray.Under the settlement, ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will acquire seven products. Perrigo Company plc will acquire Impax’s rights to two products that it had partnered with Impax to develop, manufacture, and sell. G&W Laboratories…

Online love asking for money? It’s a scam.

While plenty of successful relationships begin online, scammers also use online dating sites, apps, and chat rooms to trick you into sending them money. These imposters create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love. Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money. It’s a big problem: reports to the FBI about online romance scams tripled between 2012 and 2016, and imposter scams were among the top reports to the Federal Trade Commission for both the general population and the military community.
These scams can take a military angle with imposters stealing servicemembers’ photos to create phony profiles. They might claim to be servicemembers who can’t get into their accounts overseas or who need money fast. The first sign of a scam is an online love interest who asks for money. But the Army’s Criminal Investigative Service (CIS) says…

Operator and Corporate Associate of Business Coaching Scheme Settle with FTC

An officer of the Digital Altitude scheme that falsely claimed it would enable people to earn substantial income online, and a company it used to process consumers’ credit card payments, are banned from selling business coaching programs and investment opportunities under settlements with the Federal Trade Commission.According to the FTC, Digital Altitude falsely claimed its program would enable people to earn “six figures” in “ninety days or less.” It also promised to provide individualized coaching from successful marketers, who in fact were just salespeople selling higher membership levels. Most people never earned the promised income.Consumers lost tens of millions of dollars to the scheme, including some individuals who lost more than $50,000.Under the settlement orders, these defendants are also prohibited from credit card laundering, making misrepresentations about any product or service, profiting from consumers’ personal information collected as part of the scheme, and failing to dispose of it properly.The judgment…

FTC Wins $5.2 Million Judgment against Defendants Who Tricked Consumers with Ads for Non-existent Rental Properties and 'Free' Credit Reports

Money will be returned to consumers
A federal judge has ordered Credit Bureau Center, LLC and its owner, Michael Brown, to pay more than $5.2 million to return to consumers, to resolve FTC charges that they deceived people with fake rental property ads and deceptive promises of “free” credit reports, and then tricked them into enrolling into a costly monthly credit monitoring service.Brown and his company, formerly known as MyScore LLC, and their co-defendants placed Craigslist ads for rental properties that did not exist or that they had no right to offer for rent. They impersonated property owners and offered property tours if consumers would first obtain credit reports and scores from their websites. These sites claimed to provide “free” credit reports and scores, but then enrolled consumers in a credit monitoring service with monthly charges of $29.94. Many people did not realize they were enrolled until they noticed unexpected charges…

Student loan debt relief customers: Take 2 steps

Do you have student loans? Did you respond to an ad from Ameritech Financial claiming to offer you debt relief? The FTC has sued Ameritech for deceptive practices and just sent letters about the case to thousands of customers. The court hasn’t ruled, but there are steps you can take now to make sure your payments are going toward your loans. In addition, Ameritech may have changed your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account information. There are steps you can take to protect your financial privacy.
Here are answers to questions consumers are asking.
How do I know if Ameritech Financial is the company I do business with?
In addition to the name Ameritech, the company uses the names American Financial Benefits Center, AFB, AF Student Services, and Financial Education Benefits Center (FEBC).
I’m making monthly payments to Ameritech. Are those payments going toward my student loans?
No. Your monthly payments to Ameritech do not go…

Don’t let “FREE” cost you

When a company says you can try its product for free, you might think, why not?
Here’s why not: You could end up paying a lot of money for that free trial. Scammers often use free trial offers with undisclosed or buried terms to enroll people in costly membership programs.
That’s what happened in the case of Triangle Media Corporation, the FTC alleges. Triangle Media advertised “risk free” trials on different websites for skincare products, dietary supplements, and e-cigarettes for just the cost of shipping and handling.
But people who accepted the “risk free” trial paid a lot more than shipping and handling — as much as $98.71 for the first shipment, and for each monthly shipment that followed. And anyone who clicked the “COMPLETE CHECKOUT” button that appeared after placing their order was charged for an additional product and monthly membership without their knowledge.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here are a…

FTC Halts Online Marketers Responsible for Deceptive “Free Trial” Offers

Consumers charged for supposedly “free trials” and enrolled in costly continuity plans
A federal district court has granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request to stop a group of San Diego-based Internet marketers from deceptively advertising free trial offers and not only charging consumers full-price for the trial product, but also enrolling them in expensive, ongoing continuity plans without their knowledge or consent. The court order announced today temporarily halts the operation, freezes its assets, and appoints a temporary receiver over the business.According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants market and sell a variety of products online, including skin creams, electronic cigarettes, and dietary supplements. Advertising through third-party websites, blog posts, and surveys, the defendants allegedly offer consumers “RISK FREE” trials of products such as “Wrinkle Rewind,” “Erase Repair H/A,” “Pro Vapor,” “Cerebral X,” “Test X Core,” and “Garcinia Clean XT.”Consumers who click on these advertisements are taken to the defendants’ websites,…

Scammers create fake emergencies to get your money

“I lost my wallet and ID. I’m stranded — please wire money.”
“Your grandson is being held in jail. He needs bail money right away.”
Scammers try to trick you into thinking a loved one is in trouble. They call, text, email, or send messages on social media about a supposed emergency with a family member or friend. They ask you to send money immediately. To make their story seem real, they may claim to be an authority figure, like a lawyer or police officer; they may have or guess at facts about your loved one. These imposters may insist that you keep quiet about their demand for money to keep you from checking out their story and identifying them as imposters. But no matter how real or urgent this seems — it’s a scam.
If you get a call or message like this, what to do?
Check it out before you act. Look…

Getting a vacation rental? Watch out for scams.

With July 4th right around the corner, plenty of us are still running around trying to book a last-minute vacation rental. If that’s you, here’s what you need to know: scammers are ready with fake vacation rental ads. Rental scammers try to get your rental booking and take your money. But, when you show up for the vacation, you have no place to stay and your money is gone!
Here are some of the ways they pull off the scam:
Some scammers start with real rental listings. Then they take off the owner’s contact information, put in their own, and place the new listing on a different site — though they might continue to use the name of the actual owner. In other cases, scammers hijack the email accounts of property owners on reputable vacation rental websites.
Other scammers don’t bother with real rentals — they make up listings for places that aren’t…

FTC Warns Consumers about Vacation Rental Scams

With July 4th approaching, the FTC is warning consumers to watch out for vacation rental scams. The agency has published a blog post, Getting a vacation rental? Watch out for scams, with a message for consumers who are looking to book a summer rental: Scammers are ready with fake vacation rental ads, and their plan is to take your money and leave you with no place to stay.The blog post explains how vacation rental scams operate and includes a list of tips on how to avoid them. The blog also encourages consumers who come across any scam rental ads to report them to the FTC.The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to…

FTC Sends Refund Checks Totaling More Than $214,000 to People Who Bought Deceptively Marketed Bed Bug Treatments

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 852 refund checks, totaling more than $214,000, to consumers nationwide who bought bed bug treatments that claimed to use cedar oil to stop and prevent bed bug infestations. Each check recipient is receiving 95% of the amount they spent on these treatments. The average check amount is $251. These checks must be cashed within 60 days of the date they are issued or they will become void.The refunds stem from a January 2018 complaint against Chemical Free Solutions LLC (CFS), the seller of Cedarcide Original, a line of products deceptively marketed as effective at stopping and preventing bed bug infestations. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the company violated a 2013 Commission order barring it from making scientifically unsupported claims.Under the modified court order announced in January, CFS admitted it violated the 2013 order, was banned from selling bed bug eradication products, and…

California Company Settles FTC Charges Related to Privacy Shield Participation

A California company has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that it falsely claimed it was in the process of being certified as complying with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework, which establishes a process to allow companies to transfer consumer data from European Union countries to the United States in compliance with EU law.“Today’s settlement demonstrates the FTC’s continuing commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Privacy Shield,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons commented. “We believe Privacy Shield is a critical tool for ensuring transatlantic data flows and protecting privacy that benefits both companies and consumers.”According to the FTC’s complaint, the Commission alleges that ReadyTech Corporation, which provides online training services, falsely claimed on its website that it is “in the process of certifying that we comply with the U.S.-E.U. Privacy Shield Framework.” While ReadyTech initiated an application to the U.S. Department of Commerce in October 2016, the company did not…

FTC Obtains Court Order Barring Remaining AuraVie Skincare Sellers from Deceptive Marketing and Billing Practices

The two remaining defendants among a group of California-based marketers are permanently barred from the deceptive marketing and billing tactics they allegedly used in connection with selling skincare products offered to consumers with supposedly “risk-free” trials. The court order resolves the Federal Trade Commission’s charges against them, which the agency announced in mid-2015.A total of thirty-two defendants who sold AuraVie, Dellure, LéOR Skincare, and Miracle Face Kit branded skincare products have agreed to court orders with the FTC or had default orders entered against them. The proposed court settlement announced today resolves the FTC’s charges against the remaining two defendants in the case, Alan Argaman and Secured Merchants, LLC.The FTC alleged Argaman owned and controlled two companies that were part of the scheme, Secured Merchants and Secured Commerce, LLC, which previously defaulted in this case. According to the FTC, Argaman provided services to help continue the skincare marketers’ unauthorized billing practices.The…

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