CONSUMER ALERT

'Do Not Call' is permanent … New consumer publications … 3 videos alert public to phishing scams

Submitted by Harold Moldoff

(This is another in a series of public-service columns. Information for this article has been prepared by the Federal Trade Commission.)

News Flash


DO NOT CALL. Telephone numbers will remain on the National Do Not Call Registry permanently, thanks to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act, which became law in February. The FTC will continue to remove telephone numbers that have been disconnected and reassigned. Consumers can delete their phone numbers from the registry any time by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the telephone number they wish to delete. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/04/dncfyi.shtm.

SEASILVER. A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling requiring the marketers of the dietary supplement, Seasilver, to pay almost $120 million. The defendants, Jason and Bela Berkes and their companies, didn't comply with an earlier order to pay $3 million in consumer redress. According to the FTC, the defendants falsely claimed that Seasilver was clinically proven to treat or cure 650 diseases, including cancer and AIDS, and cause rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss without dieting. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/04/seasilver.shtm.

TELEMARKETER BANNED. On behalf of the FTC, a federal court has banned Brian MacGregor, the architect of a fraudulent telemarketing scheme, from ever engaging in any aspect of telemarketing and ordered him and his company to pay $28.2 million. According to the FTC, consumers wrongfully paid monthly fees for "program memberships" in discount buyers’ and travel clubs and were falsely promised free gifts. Consumers who lost money should write to: Federal Trade Commission, attn.: Faye Chen Barnouw, 10877 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90024. The letter should identify the company that took their money, including the dates and amounts of the withdrawals, and documentation. For more information, consumers may call the case hotline at 202-326-2090. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/04/walmartscam.shtm.

FALSE HOPES CASE. Lifestyle Vending, Inc., and its owners, Michael Eisenberg and Maryann McCulloh, have agreed to settle FTC charges that they misled consumers into paying up to $10,000 for a vending machine business. The defendants told consumers that they could earn $50,000 a year through the purchase of 30 candy vending machines, but they had no substantiation for their claim. This case was brought as part of Project FAL$E HOPE$, an FTC-led effort that targeted bogus business opportunities and work-at-home scams, and produced more than 100 law enforcement actions by the FTC, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and law enforcement agencies in 11 states. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/04/lsvending.shtm.


New and Revised Consumer Publications


ENERGYGUIDANCE: APPLIANCE SHOPPING WITH THE ENERGYGUIDE LABEL. Explains how consumers shopping for an appliance can use EnergyGuide labels to compare the energy use of different models. Includes a sample label. 8.5"x11", 3 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea14.shtm.

ADVANCE-FEE LOAN SCAMS: 'EASY' CASH OFFERS TEACH HARD LESSON. Provides tips on how to spot a scam and avoid losing your money. Rule number one: Legitimate lenders never "guarantee" or say that you are likely to get a loan or a credit card before you apply, especially if you have bad credit, no credit, or a bankruptcy. 8.5"x11", 2 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/telemarketing/tell6.shtm.

CÓMO RECONOCER UN RESCATE HIPOTECARIO FRAUDULENTO (HOW TO RECOGNIZE A FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAM). Explains foreclosure rescue scams and where consumers can find legitimate help. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/articles/snaps31.pdf.

Tip of the Month — Look 'Phishy7'?


The FTC has released three 60-second videos to help alert consumers to phishing scams. Phishing uses deceptive spam to trick consumers into divulging sensitive or personal information, including credit card numbers and other financial data, through an email or a link to a "copycat" site.

The videos are the newest tool on OnGuardOnline.gov, a multimedia initiative to help consumers be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal information. The award-winning site features tips, articles, how-to videos, games, and tutorials in English and Spanish. The "phishy" videos also appear on YouTube. Check them out at onguardonline.gov or at youtube.com/ftcvideos.

Numbers to Know


FTC'S OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS: 202-326-2195.

Check out the CONGRESSIONAL RESOURCES portion of our website at www.ftc.gov/bulkorder.
-- If you need a copy of any publication immediately, you can view, download, and print from www.ftc.gov
-- For special orders, email Derick Rill at drill@ftc.gov

To file a fraud complaint, visit www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).



BE AWARE OF FRAUDULENT ATTEMPTS TO STEAL MONEY FROM YOU! If you have questions or concerns on offers of solicitations, we encourage you to Contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at (603)271-3641, or 1-888-466-4454, or Rye Police Department at(603)964-5522.

Harold Moldoff is a volunteer Consumer Affairs Specialist with the Bureau of Consumer Protection and Antitrust, Concord. NH. He is a resident of Rye Beach.



July, 2008



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