Friday, July 10, 2015

FTC and Florida Attorney General Sue to Stop Robocalls for “Free” Medical Alert Systems

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Florida Attorney General are suing Lifewatch.  The New York-based company is charged with using illegal and deceptive robocalls to trick older consumers into purchasing medical alert systems.  The monthly monitoring fees ranged from $29.95 to $39.95.

Last year, Lifewatch’s telemarketing firm, Worldwide Info Services, had charges brought against it by the FTC and the State of Florida.  Lifewatch is alleged to be aware of, and responsible for, illegal activities in that case and to have continued the practices using other telemarketing firms.

The complaint alleges that Lifewatch violated the Do Not Call Registry by bombarding senior citizens with robocalls.  The calls typically had fake caller ID information in an attempt to further deceive the consumers.
Telemarketers would often tell the consumers that the $400 alert system had been purchased for them, so it was “free”.  Eventually, they would tell the consumers that their credit cards were needed for the monthly monitoring fee.

Lifewatch’s actions are alleged to violate the FTC Act, the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

For more information, go to:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Complaint Database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau now has a consumer complaint database online.  The database contains over 7,700 consumer accounts of problems that include mortgages, bank accounts, credit cards, debt collection, private student loans, pay day loans, and more.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in an effort to handle consumer complaints.  It began in 2011, and as of June 1, 2015, the Bureau has handled more than 627,000 complaints, with mortgages and debt collection at the top of the list.

The database will allow users to explore information and become aware of specific problems and company practices.   Users can sort complaints by state and zip code.  The identity of the consumer and any personal information has been removed from the online database.  However, consumers have the option of adding a narrative to provide a firsthand account of their experience.  The narratives will help consumers to make a more informed decision when dealing with a particular company or circumstance.