FTC Consumer Protection Gains

When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) files lawsuits against companies offering payday loans or other debt relief or assistance programs, do consumers in Chicago ever see any of the funds that come from the settlements? According to a recent report from Legal News Line, the FTC recently indicated that it plans to provide more than 145,000 consumers with almost $20 million in compensation from the company One Technologies LP and two of its partner companies.
FTC Lawsuit for Fraudulent Debt and Credit Assistance Programs
Why is the FTC returning more than $20 million to hundreds of thousands of consumers that had a connection to One Technologies LP? As the article explains, the organization and its partner companies “ran an online scheme that attempted to convince consumers that it provided ‘free’ credit score access.” The FTC indicated that the defendants not only took an initial fee from consumers who signed up for those services, but the defendants also charged consumers a monthly fee of $29.95 for “un-ordered credit monitoring.”
For consumers who have recently filed for personal bankruptcy or are dealing with significant debts, scams like these can be appealing because they can provide a way to keep up with the impact of debts on a person’s credit score.
As the FTC claim made clear, the defendants violated several different federal and state laws, including but not limited to:
  • FTC Act: The FTC Act, or 15 U.S. Code § 45, specific that it is unlawful to engage in “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” The law also gives the FTC power to prohibit unfair practices.
  • Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA): This Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 8401-8405) prohibits “any post-transaction third party seller (a seller who markets goods or services online through an initial merchant after a consumer has initiated a transaction with that merchant) from charging any financial account in an Internet transaction unless it has disclosed clearly all materials terms of the transaction and obtained the consumer’s express informed consent to the charge.”
  • Illinois Consumer Fraud Act: The Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, also known as the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/), prohibits “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” including consumer fraud.
Other FTC Actions
The recent action taken against One Technologies LP is not the only consumer protection action that has served to protect individuals in the last several months. A list of proceedings from the FTC emphasizes that the agency also has obtained consumer refunds from a number of other companies, including Direct Benefits Group Refunds in September 2016 for its payday lending services, and Expense Management America Refunds in May 2016 for its mortgage and debt relief services. In each of these cases, the FTC highlighted the problems of online scams that prey upon debtors.
It is extremely important for agencies like the FTC to hold companies accountable for deceptive or fraudulent practices, particularly in their relationships with consumers. If you believe that you have been targeted by a debt relief company or another organization that has violated consumer protection laws, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you may be eligible to receive compensation. An experienced Oak Park consumer protection lawyer can speak with you today about your case. Contact the Emerson Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.
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