- FTC Announces New Initiative: Operation Collection Protection – BY CAITLIN LOONEY
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other federal consumer watchdogs coordinate with state & local law enforcement agencies to target debt collectors who use deceptive and abusive collection practices. The FTC is working with over 70 agencies nationwide and has already brought action to 115 cases so far in 2015. Some of these “zombie” debt collectors have been caught and ordered to pay damages. Chase Bank has agreed to pay $50 million in damages for allegedly selling consumer information to debt buyers who, in turn, have used the information to solicit payments by illegal practices.
- Focus on the TCPA: Record Fine for Autodialed Calls Is Just the Latest High Dollar TCPA Award – BY NICK AGNELLO
In August 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined the owner of a telemarketing firm nearly $3 million dollars for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA places restrictions on telephone solicitations, what times they may call, and requires them to maintain company-specific “Do Not Call Lists” as well as honor the National “Do Not Call” Registry. Upon violations of the TCPA, a consumer may sue for up to $1,500 for each violation and seek an injunction against the company. Other companies who received fines this year include CVS Pharmacies and the polling company of Gallup. FCC commissioner expressed, after the Final Order was published, that “After this Order, each and every smartphone, tablet, VoIP phone, calling app, texting app–pretty much any phone that’s not a “rotary-dial phone”–will be an automatic telephone dialing system.”
- FTC Sues Company for Trying to Silence Consumers who Complained – by Taras Rudnitsky
The Federal Trade Commission files suit against a Florida company, Roca Labs, for unfair trade practices. Roca labs, which sold weight loss supplements, had its customers sign a “non-disparagement clause” under its “Terms & Conditions”. When customers who had negative results or complaints about the company, and posted reviews online or through complaint forms, Roca Labs filed sued or made threats of legal action to intimidate them. The FTC lawsuit looks to afford Florida consumers with their legal right to post honest reviews about a company without fear of retaliation under this type of “gag clauses”.
- Chiropractic Clinics Attempt to Defraud GEICO – by BY MARK J. ROSE
GEICO filed suit against a Massachusetts-based Chiropractic Network that systematically defrauded the auto insurance company by billing top dollar for chiropractic services that were being administered by unskilled or under-qualified staff. Big City Chiropractic is the Florida-based company, founded by Dr. Brian Elias, which is being sued for allegedly creating a system of overbilling and patient kickbacks which defrauded GEICO of up to $1.1 million. GEICO is filing suit under the RICO Act and Massachusetts state consumer protection laws.
Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Company and its parent company, Reynolds American, Inc. are the subjects of a new class-action lawsuit targeting the misleading and misrepresented advertising claims used to sell their product. The lawsuit zeroes in on the FDA warning to the company that the words “natural” and “additive-free” are in direct violation of federal law when used in their advertising and product description.
- Proposed federal rule would protect public housing residents from secondhand smoke – posted by Scott Michelman
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a rule that will ban all smoking in public housing units. This ban is aimed to curb unwanted second-hand smoke that passes under doorways and through shared ventilation systems.
- WHAT IF I IGNORE A CREDIT CARD LAWSUIT? – by Scott Florin
If served with a Florida Credit Card Lawsuit, the two worst courses of action are to do nothing or to wait it out. If a default judgment is entered against you, you may be subject to wage garnishment or bank account lien.
- Medicare ‘Open Enrollment’ scams – by Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
It is open enrollment season for Medicare. If you receive a phone call from a representative attempting to collect your personal information, such as credit card or banking information, social security number, or other info, DO NOT give this information over the phone. Take as much information about the caller as possible, including a call back number and call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ toll-free number 1-800-447-8477 or visit stopmedicarefraud.gov
- Paper Warranties a Thing of the Past? – By Scott L. Winkelman and Preetha Chakrabarti
US House passes the E-Warranty Act of 2015, which if signed into law, will allow companies to satisfy their obligations to post-warranty information online. This law would modify existing federal law, but only if manufacturers post the information in a “clear and conspicuous manner.”
- Attorneys of Massey & Duffy Serving the Gainesville, Ocala, and Lake City – By Michael Massey
The law firm of Massey & Duffy, PLLC has, honestly, the best legal blog! We are here to advocate against illegal business practices, fraud, telemarketing scams, and harassing debt collectors. If you are the victim of product liability, consumer fraud, or feel that you have been abused by telemarketers, call our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Our office staff is standing by to hear from you today! Call (352) 505-8900.