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Cowboy AG, LLC, a Dallas, Texas, company doing business as Cowboy Toyota and Cowboy Scion (Cowboy Toyota), has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceptively advertised loan and leasing terms in ads placed in a regional Spanish-language newspaper.The FTC’s administrative complaint charges that Cowboy Toyota ran full-page Spanish-language ads claiming that consumers could buy or lease a vehicle at certain favorable terms that were prominently stated in Spanish in the ads, with material limitations to those terms provided only in fine-print English at the bottom of the ads. The complaint alleges the dealerships violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting many claims, including that:No down payment was required;
 The advertised low monthly payments were available to consumers who financed their purchases;
 The advertised interest rates, monthly payments, and other terms were available to consumers with bad credit; and
 Certain new 2016 Toyotas were available for purchase at the time of the ads in 2017.According to the FTC, Cowboy Toyota’s misrepresentation of the cost of purchasing or leasing cars, qualifications or restrictions for financing or leasing cars, and the availability of cars violated the FTC Act. The dealership also failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose credit or lease terms they are required to state under the Truth in Lending Act or the Consumer Leasing Act when they touted certain “triggering” terms of the credit or lease, such as the monthly payment.
Published in Legal
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 23:24

Dealer Group Settles with FTC

A Southern California auto dealership group will pay $1.4 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated a 2014 administrative order prohibiting it from misrepresenting how much consumers could pay to finance or lease a vehicle.The proposed court order resolving the FTC’s complaint against 12 businesses operating as the Norm Reeves dealerships, bars similar advertising misrepresentations, and imposes strict compliance and reporting terms to prevent future violations.According to the FTC’s first complaint, the defendants made a variety of misrepresentations in advertisements to consumers that violated the FTC Act, falsely leading consumers to believe they could buy vehicles for specific low prices, finance vehicles for specific low monthly payments, and/or make no upfront payment when leasing.Specifically, the FTC charged Norm Reeves with deceptively advertising that consumers could pay $0 up-front to lease a vehicle when, in fact, the advertised price excluded substantial fees and other costs. The ads also allegedly violated the Consumer Leasing Act (CLA) by failing to disclose certain lease related terms. One of the dealerships’ ads also allegedly violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z, by failing to disclose certain credit-related terms.The orders settling the previous complaint, which the Commission approved as final in May 2014, prohibited the dealerships from misrepresenting the cost of purchasing a vehicle with financing, or any other material fact about the price, sale, financing, or leasing of a vehicle in its ads. The orders also addressed the defendants’ alleged TILA and CLA violations by requiring the dealerships to clearly and conspicuously disclose terms required by these credit and lease laws.The proposed court order settles the FTC’s civil penalty complaint that the defendants violated the 2014 order by misrepresenting the total cost of vehicle financing or leases to prospective buyers, or misrepresenting the offer’s availability to all consumers. The order also settles Commission charges that the defendants failed to disclose, or did not clearly and conspicuously disclose, credit and lease information required by TILA and the CLA, and failed to maintain proper records, in violation of the order.
Published in Legal
Sunday, 22 October 2017 18:28

FTC Looks at Licensing

The Federal Trade Commission’s Economic Liberty Task Force has announced the agenda for its second roundtable in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, to examine empirical evidence on the effects of occupational licensing.“The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition, Consumers, and the Workforce: Empirical Research and Results” will bring together experts who have studied and attempted to quantify the effects of occupational licensing regulations on service providers, consumers, and markets.The Task Force’s first roundtable, held in July, focused on enhancing license portability across state lines.The Nov. 7 roundtable will focus on the ability of empirical research to clarify costs and benefits, and to better inform policy makers’ discussions of occupational licensing reform.It is free to the public and begins at 1 p.m. at Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, D.C., 20024. The FTC invites comments from the public on the topics to be addressed.
Published in Legal
Sunday, 17 September 2017 12:56

FTC Approve Fuel Guide Changes

The Federal Trade Commission announced that the agency has approved changes to the Fuel Economy Guide.Adopted in 1975, the Guide (formally, the “Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles”) helps advertisers avoid making unfair and deceptive claims.In 2016, the FTC sought public comment on proposed changes to the Guide. Based on comments received, the Commission approved changes to account for a number of new issues, such as driving range and fuel economy claims for alternative fueled vehicles, including electric and flex-fueled models. The changes also match the Guide with current Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fuel economy labeling rules. The amendments will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Published in Compliance News
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 16:40

FTC Announces Agenda for Military Conference

The Federal Trade Commission has announced the agenda for the upcoming Protecting Military Consumers: A Common Ground conference, which will take place Sept. 7 at the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters.The conference will bring together and train military attorneys and financial advisors, law enforcement, prosecution agencies, and consumer protection officials to identify, prevent, and respond to consumer fraud and other issues affecting service members and their families.Co-sponsored by the FTC and state and local law enforcement, the conference will first address current and emerging issues affecting service members and their families, such as higher education, identity theft, imposter scams, debt collection, mortgage disputes and real estate fraud.Next, participants will learn about federal, state and local consumer protection laws such as the Service Members Civil Relief Act, the Military Lending Act, the FTC Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rules and regulations, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and California’s False Advertising Law. Finally, the conference will provide practical tips on counseling, one-on-one dispute resolution, reporting fraud, and available legal representation that can help service members and military attorneys prevent, detect and defend against consumer fraud.The FTC’s Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Tom Pahl, will provide the keynote address.  Several other Federal Trade Commission staff will participate in panel discussions.  Other organizations providing speakers include the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, California Military Department’s JAG Corps, California Attorney General’s Office, San Diego District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles Police Department, and Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.
Published in Finance
Monday, 24 July 2017 20:36

FTC Offers Data Security Lessons

The Federal Trade Commission is publishing a series of blog posts to build on the FTC’s Start with Security guide for businesses.The posts use hypothetical examples based on lessons from closed investigations, FTC law enforcement actions, and questions from businesses to educate owners about data security.In the first blog post, the FTC highlights some of the themes that have emerged from an examination of closed FTC data security investigations. For example, while news reports might call attention to a data breach, they might not focus on the fact that the company that suffered the breach had encrypted the data, which substantially reduces the risk of consumer injury. Another lesson gleaned is that security researchers’ work can alert businesses to new vulnerabilities, but sometimes the risk of a vulnerability being exploited to cause consumer injury is more theoretical than likely. Another key lesson is that in almost every closed case, the entities involved used the same common-sense security fundamentals outlined in the FTC’s Start with Security guide for businesses.The FTC’s Business Blog will publish an additional post each Friday.
Published in Finance
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 17:53

FTC Streamlines Processes

The Federal Trade Commission announced several internal process reforms in the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection intended to streamline information requests and improve transparency in commission investigations. The reforms are part of efforts to further the agency’s mission to protect consumers and promote competition without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.This past April, the FTC announced new internal Working Groups on Agency Reform and Efficiency to improve processes and focus resources. As part of this initiative, the Bureau of Consumer Protection identified best practices to streamline information requests and improve transparency in investigations.The process reforms address CIDs (Civil Investigative Demands) in consumer protection cases, and include:  • Providing plain language descriptions of the CID process and developing business education materials to help small businesses understand how to comply;  • Adding more detailed descriptions of the scope and purpose of investigations to give companies a better understanding of the information the agency seeks;  • Where appropriate, limiting the relevant time periods to minimize undue burden on companies;  • Where appropriate, significantly reducing the length and complexity of CID instructions for providing electronically stored data; and  • Where appropriate, increasing response times for CIDs (for example, often 21 days to 30 days for targets, and 14 days to 21 days for third parties) to improve the quality and timeliness of compliance by recipients.
Published in Finance
Thursday, 22 June 2017 19:11

FTC Announces Connected Car Agenda

The Federal Trade Commission has announced the final agenda for its June 28 workshop to examine the consumer privacy and security issues posed by automated and connected cars. FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen will deliver opening remarks at the daylong workshop. The event will bring together a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and government officials, to discuss privacy and security issues related to connected and automated vehicles. The workshop will feature panel discussions on the types of data connected cars will generate, collect and share; cybersecurity challenges; the privacy implications of connected cars; and potential role of government agencies. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC 20024. The conference will be webcast live.    
Published in Tech News
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 20:39

FTC Looks at Military Issues

Auto purchase, financing and leasing will be among the main topics of an upcoming Federal Trade Commission workshop.The FTC announced the agenda and speakers confirmed to date for its upcoming workshop in San Antonio on July 19.The forum will focus on financial issues and scams that can affect military consumers, including active duty service members in all branches and veterans.Military consumer advocates and groups, government representatives (local, state, and federal), military legal services and legal clinics (including those at universities), all service branches, and industry representatives will speak at the event.The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will take place at Chapman Auditorium, Trinity University, San Antonio.Preregistration is not required. The event will also be tweeted live from the FTC’s Military Consumer Twitter account (@Milconsumer (link is external)) using hash tag #MilFinancialWorkshop.    
Published in Legal
Monday, 05 June 2017 19:21

Regulators Share Information

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has provided its 2016 Annual Financial Acts Enforcement Report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on enforcement and related activities regarding Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act), Regulation M (Consumer Leasing Act), and Regulation E (Electronic Fund Transfer Act).The report on TILA, CLA, and EFTA addresses, among other things, the FTC’s enforcement actions related to non-mortgage credit, including automobile purchases and financing, payday lending, and consumer electronics financing, mortgage-related credit such as forensic audit scams, leasing, and negative options and other cases involving electronic fund transfers.  It also provides information about the FTC’s efforts regarding consumer and business education, research, and policy development related to truth in lending, leasing, and electronic fund transfers.A copy of the report also has been provided to the Federal Reserve Board.
Published in Compliance News
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