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Snapchat Settles FTC Charges That Promises of Disappearing Messages Were False

May 8, 2014 Comments off

Snapchat Settles FTC Charges That Promises of Disappearing Messages Were False
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Snapchat, the developer of a popular mobile messaging app, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers with promises about the disappearing nature of messages sent through the service. The FTC case also alleged that the company deceived consumers over the amount of personal data it collected and the security measures taken to protect that data from misuse and unauthorized disclosure. In fact, the case alleges, Snapchat’s failure to secure its Find Friends feature resulted in a security breach that enabled attackers to compile a database of 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Snapchat made multiple misrepresentations to consumers about its product that stood in stark contrast to how the app actually worked.

FTC Announces Top National Consumer Complaints for 2013

March 14, 2014 Comments off

FTC Announces Top National Consumer Complaints for 2013
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Identity theft continues to top the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints, and American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013, according to the FTC’s annual report on consumer complaints released today.

The Commission received more than two million complaints overall, as reported in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013, of which 290,056, or 14 percent, were identity theft related. Thirty percent of these incidents were tax- or wage-related, which continues to be the largest category within identity theft complaints.

The highest reported age group for identity theft is 20-29, with 20 percent of complaints. Rich says that educating consumers on this topic is a top priority for the agency. Some of the FTC resources include Signs of Identity Theft, Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft, and How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure.

Of the more than 1.1 million fraud complaints (classified separately from identity theft) the Commission received, 61 percent of consumers reported an amount of money they had paid, which collectively added up to more than $1.6 billion.

As Holiday Shopping Season Gets Underway, FTC Reminds Internet Retailers to Ensure Consumers Have Access to Warranty Information

December 11, 2013 Comments off

As Holiday Shopping Season Gets Underway, FTC Reminds Internet Retailers to Ensure Consumers Have Access to Warranty Information
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission staff is asking top Internet retailers to review their websites to ensure that they provide complete and accurate information about product warranties before consumers make their online purchases, as required by the FTC’s Pre-Sale Availability Rule.

The Rule requires retailers to make warranties available at the time of purchase for all warranted consumer products that cost more than $15. However, a recent staff survey found several instances of Internet sellers offering warranted consumer electronics and appliances for sale without disclosing complete warranty information.

FTC Issues FY 2013 National Do Not Call Registry Data Book

December 11, 2013 Comments off

FTC Issues FY 2013 National Do Not Call Registry Data Book
Source: Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission today issued the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book for Fiscal Year 2013. The FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry lets consumers choose not to receive telemarketing calls. In its fifth year of publication, the Data Book contains a wealth of information about the Registry for FY 2013 (from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013), including:

  • The number of active registrations and consumer complaints since the Registry began in 2003;
  • FY 2013 complaint figures by month and type;
  • FY 2013 registration and complaint figures for all 50 states and the District of Columbia by population;
  • Rankings of the number of Do Not Call registrations by state population;
  • The number of entities accessing the Registry by fiscal year; and
  • An appendix on registration and complaint figures by state and area code.

According to the Data Book, at the end of FY 2013, the Do Not Call Registry contained 223,429,112 actively registered phone numbers, up from 217,568,284 at the end of FY 2012. In addition, the number of consumer complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls received decreased from 3,840,569 during FY 2012 to 3,748,655 during FY 2013.

FTC Approves Changes to Vocational Schools Guides

November 20, 2013 Comments off

FTC Approves Changes to Vocational Schools Guides
Source: Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission revised its Vocational School Guides, which advise against deceptive marketing practices by businesses that offer vocational training.

Created in 1972, the Vocational School Guides (formally known as Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools) address misrepresenting accreditation, the transferability of credit to other schools, government or employment agency affiliation, and testimonials or endorsements. They also warn against misrepresenting teacher or enrollment qualifications, the nature of courses, the availability of financial aid, and the availability of jobs for graduates. In addition, the Guides address the use of deceptive diplomas or certificates, and placing classified ads that appear to be “help wanted” ads.

In 2009, the FTC sought public comment on the Guides as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides. In response to those comments, the FTC has amended the Guides to address more specifically misrepresentations:

  • commonly used in recruitment, including those regarding completion/dropout rates and post-graduation job prospects;
  • about whether completion of a program will qualify students to take a licensing exam;
  • concerning a student’s score on an admissions test, how long it takes to complete a course or program, or a student’s likelihood of success; and
  • regarding the likelihood of financial aid or help with language barriers or learning disabilities, or how much credit students will receive for courses completed elsewhere.

FTC Poses Eight Questions to Ask When Choosing a College After Military Service

November 12, 2013 Comments off

FTC Poses Eight Questions to Ask When Choosing a College After Military Service
Source: Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission is advising servicemembers, veterans, and their families that some for-profit schools may be more interested in gaining access to their post 9/11 GI Bill benefits than helping them fulfill their education goals. To help servicemembers identify a school that will meet their needs as they transition to student status, the FTC released a new tip sheet.

The guidance, 8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a College, encourages servicemembers, veterans and their families to carefully assess the schools they’re interested in attending, whether working toward a certificate or a higher degree. Using words such as “veteran” or “military-approved” may not necessarily equate to better education and support.

FTC Closes Seven-month Investigation of Proposed Office Depot/OfficeMax Merger

November 6, 2013 Comments off

FTC Closes Seven-month Investigation of Proposed Office Depot/OfficeMax Merger
Source: Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has unanimously voted to close its seven-month investigation into the proposed $1.2 billion merger of office supply superstores Office Depot, Inc. and OfficeMax, Inc. and has issued a Commission statement detailing the basis for its decision.

While the FTC successfully challenged the proposed merger of office supply superstores Staples, Inc., and Office Depot in 1997, the Commission observes in today’s statement that its investigation, “has shown that the market for the sale of consumable office supplies has changed significantly in the intervening years.” As a result, office supply superstores “today face significant competition and . . . the proposed merger is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the retail sale of consumable office supplies.”

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