Consumer Education

The FTC has a new Consumer Alert, available on its Web site at http://ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt034.shtm, titled “Money Transfers Can Be Risky Business.” It includes useful information on how consumers can avoid telemarketing and money transfer fraud, including the following tips. Don’t wire money to:

  • someone you don’t know, in the U.S. or in a foreign country;
  • someone claiming to be a relative in the midst of a crisis and who wants to keep the
    request for money a secret;
  • someone who says a money transfer is the only form of payment that’s acceptable; or
  • someone who asks you to deposit a check and send some of the money back.

Consumers interested in the process of redress administration should call 202-326-3755.

The FTC’s case was investigated with the assistance of the Toronto Strategic Partnership, Project Colt, Project Emptor, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Additional assistance was provided by the Durham Regional Police Service, Ontario, Canada, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (PhoneBusters).

The Toronto Strategic Partnership includes the FTC, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Competition Bureau Canada, the Toronto Police Service Fraud Squad – Mass Marketing Section, the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets Section, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading. Project Colt includes the FTC, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Surete du Quebec, City of Montreal Police Service, Canada Border Services Agency, Competition Bureau Canada, U.S. Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Project Emptor includes the FTC, the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority of British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Competition Bureau Canada, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The Commission vote approving the complaint and proposed consent order was 3-0, with Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour recused. The complaint and order were filed on October 19, 2009, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law. A stipulated court order is for settlement purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Stipulated orders have the force of law when signed by the judge.

Copies of the complaint and stipulated order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

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