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 4
IN THIS ISSUE
ADVANCE-FEE FRAUD. At the FTC’s request, a federal district court in Illinois has required a group of Canadian fraudsters to pay $8.1 million and permanently banned them from making deceptive telemarketing pitches. The court's order ends litigation against Paul and Elissa Price and their related companies; another defendant settled in 2006. The FTC’s complaint alleged that the defendants falsely claimed that consumers who paid a fee would get a low-interest rate, high-credit limit, and no-annual-fee MasterCard or Visa card. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/primeone.htm
ATTENTION KMART SHOPPERS. Kmart Corporation has settled FTC charges that it deceptively promoted its gift card as equivalent to cash; failed to disclose that fees are assessed after two years of non-use and that the cards expire. Kmart will implement and advertise a refund program. This is the FTC’s first law enforcement action involving gift cards. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/kmart.htm
CONTEMPT-IBLE. The FTC has brought a contempt action against individuals and businesses related to an invention promotion company that defrauded 17,000 consumers out of more than $60 million. According to the FTC, the defendants, using the name Patent and Trademark Institute of America (PTI), violated a previous court order and revived an earlier scam by charging $895 or more; providing consumers with meaningless invention evaluations; and giving no help with licensing their inventions or earning royalties. Consumers who think they may have been harmed by PTI, or its related companies may call the FTC at 202-326-2926 for more information. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/ipd.htm
The FTC and other federal regulators request public comments on a model form that financial institutions can use for their privacy notices to consumers. The privacy notices, required by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB Act), must describe an institution’s information-sharing practices, and inform consumers that they may opt out of certain types of sharing. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/03/jointrelease.htm
ENERGY ISSUES. The FTC will convene a three-day conference, April 10-12, to feature leading experts from the government, industries in the energy sector, consumer groups, and academia to exchange information and ideas about critical issues related to energy development, transportation, marketing, and use. The workshop is free and open to the public; it will be held at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, DC. All attendees will be required to show a valid form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license. A live webcast of the workshops also will run on the FTC’s website. Pre-registration is not necessary, but is encouraged. To pre-register, email your name and affiliation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/01/energywrkshp.htm
THE REAL THING. The FTC will host a workshop April 23 and 24 to explore ways to reduce identity theft through enhanced authentication methods. Topics for discussion include establishing identity in the first place, current and emerging authentication methods, new technologies' ease of use for consumers, and possible privacy concerns. The agency invites those interested in commenting on the agenda or participating as panelists to notify the FTC.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/02/authentication.htm
REBATE DEBATE. The FTC will host a workshop April 27 in San Francisco, California, to discuss issues surrounding the use of mail-in rebates. The workshop will gather representatives from consumer groups, industry, academia, and government to debate the costs and benefits of rebates from all perspectives and to explore "best practices" in rebate offers and fulfillment. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the downtown campus of San Francisco State University, starting at 9:00 a.m. For further information about the workshop, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/rebatedebate/index
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/01/rebate.htm
DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES. The FTC will host a workshop October 10 and 11 to examine how changes in the debt collection industry have affected consumers and businesses. The event will bring together consumer advocates, industry representatives, state and federal regulators, and market authorities to discuss the effects of technology and economic trends on 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.htm
COMPETITION COUNTS. Primer on the FTC's antitrust mission and how the work of the Bureau of Competition benefits consumers. 5.75"x 8.75", 8 pages, color. www.ftc.gov/bc/edu/pubs/consumer/general/zgen01.htm
A laptop computer defines convenience and mobility. It enables you to work from home, a hotel room, a conference hall, or a coffee shop. But even if you’ve taken steps to secure the data on your laptop, what about the laptop itself? A minor distraction is all it takes for your laptop to vanish. If it does and your data protections aren’t up to par, that sensitive and valuable information in your laptop may be a magnet for an identity thief. OnGuardOnline.gov, a website managed by the federal government that is devoted to computer security, protecting personal information, and guarding against Internet fraud, suggests keeping these tips in mind when you take your laptop out and about:
1. Treat your laptop like cash. Would you leave a wad of money sitting out in a public place, or would you turn your back on it — even for just a minute? Would you put it in checked luggage or on the backseat of your car?
2. Keep it locked. Whether you’re using your laptop in the office, a hotel, or some other public place, use a laptop security cable: attach it to something immovable or to a heavy piece of furniture that’s difficult to move — say, a table or a desk.
3. Keep it off the floor, no matter where you are in public — at a conference, a coffee shop, or a registration desk. If you must put it down, place it between your feet or at least up against your leg, so that you’re aware of it.
4. Keep your passwords elsewhere. Leaving your passwords or access numbers either in a laptop carrying case or on your laptop is like leaving the keys in your car.
For more tips on protecting your laptop, go to www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/tech/tec03.htm.
FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.
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