FTC Warns Consumers About Possible Charity Scams

The Federal Trade Commission urges consumers to be cautious of potential charity scams in connection with the damage caused by hurricanes Ike and Gustav along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest.

Scam artists might take advantage of this situation by creating bogus fund-raising operations. The FTC has issued a Consumer Alert, the “FTC Charity Checklist,” which lists precautions consumers should take when donating to charities. The alert, available at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt114.shtm, advises consumers to be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving current events. If you are asked to contribute to a charity, the FTC recommends that you:

  • Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly;
  • Ask what percentage of your donation will support the cause described in the solicitation;
  • Call the charity to find out if it’s aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name;
  • Do not provide any credit card or bank information until you have reviewed all information from the charity and made the decision to donate;
  • Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax deductible; and
  • Avoid cash gifts. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check – made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.

To order copies of this or other FTC Consumer Alerts, visit http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm#publications. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on consumer issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available for more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice Issue Joint Statement on Certificate-of-Need Laws in Illinois

In a joint statement to the Illinois Task Force on Health Planning Reform, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ) stated the agencies’ position regarding certificate-of-need (CON) laws, saying that the laws undercut consumer choice, stifle innovation and weaken markets’ ability to contain health care costs. Today’s statement reiterates the agencies’ ongoing efforts to promote competition in health care.

State CON programs generally prevent firms from entering certain areas of the health care market unless they can demonstrate to state authorities that there is an unmet need for their services. The task force is considering eliminating or amending Illinois’ CON requirements. The agencies were asked by the task force to present their views at a meeting to be held in Chicago on Sept. 15, 2008.

FTC Chairman William Kovacic underscored the importance of health care competition, stating that, “The health care industry provides us all with fundamental services at significant and vulnerable times. Vigorous competition can promote greater access to cost-effective, high-quality health care.”

In the joint statement, the agencies said that CON laws impede the efficient performance of health care markets by creating barriers to entry and expansion, to the detriment of health care competition and consumers. The statement describes economic research on the effects of CON laws, as well as some of the risks that CON laws can entail. For example, in addition to limiting entry, CON laws create opportunities for existing competitors to exploit the CON process to thwart or delay new competition; they can facilitate anticompetitive agreements among providers; and the CON process itself may be susceptible to corruption.

“The Antitrust Division is committed to providing guidance on how to promote competition in the health care industry,” said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division. “Competition in this important industry benefits consumers by offering lower prices and better quality services.”

The joint statement also evaluates several arguments in support of CON laws, noting that the original cost-control reasons for CON laws no longer apply and that CON laws are an ineffective means to fund indigent care. For these reasons, the agencies encourage members of the Illinois task force – as well as officials in other states that continue to require certificates of need – to consider whether such laws do more harm than good.

Today’s statement is based on the agencies’ extensive experience with CON laws. The agencies jointly conducted hearings on issues in health care competition, including CON laws, in 2003; those hearings, and related research, led to a 2004 report, Improving Health Care: A Dose of Competition, which observed that, “on balance, CON programs are not successful in containing health care costs, and that they pose serious anticompetitive risks that usually outweigh their purported economic benefits.” Today’s statement is based on that report and more recent economic studies. Recently, the agencies have provided similar statements to the General Assembly and the Senate of the state of Georgia; the Committee on Health, Education and Social Services of the Alaska House of Representatives; and the Florida Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Appropriations.

The Commission vote approving the joint statement was 4-0.

Copies of the joint testimony are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to [email protected], or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at http://www.ftc.gov/competitioncounts.

(FTC File No.: V080018)
(Illinois CON..final.wpd)

Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice Issue Joint Statement on Certificate-of-Need Laws in Illinois

In a joint statement to the Illinois Task Force on Health Planning Reform, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ) stated the agencies’ position regarding certificate-of-need (CON) laws, saying that the laws undercut consumer choice, stifle innovation and weaken markets’ ability to contain health care costs. Today’s statement reiterates the agencies’ ongoing efforts to promote competition in health care.

State CON programs generally prevent firms from entering certain areas of the health care market unless they can demonstrate to state authorities that there is an unmet need for their services. The task force is considering eliminating or amending Illinois’ CON requirements. The agencies were asked by the task force to present their views at a meeting to be held in Chicago on Sept. 15, 2008.

FTC Chairman William Kovacic underscored the importance of health care competition, stating that, “The health care industry provides us all with fundamental services at significant and vulnerable times. Vigorous competition can promote greater access to cost-effective, high-quality health care.”

In the joint statement, the agencies said that CON laws impede the efficient performance of health care markets by creating barriers to entry and expansion, to the detriment of health care competition and consumers. The statement describes economic research on the effects of CON laws, as well as some of the risks that CON laws can entail. For example, in addition to limiting entry, CON laws create opportunities for existing competitors to exploit the CON process to thwart or delay new competition; they can facilitate anticompetitive agreements among providers; and the CON process itself may be susceptible to corruption.

“The Antitrust Division is committed to providing guidance on how to promote competition in the health care industry,” said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division. “Competition in this important industry benefits consumers by offering lower prices and better quality services.”

The joint statement also evaluates several arguments in support of CON laws, noting that the original cost-control reasons for CON laws no longer apply and that CON laws are an ineffective means to fund indigent care. For these reasons, the agencies encourage members of the Illinois task force – as well as officials in other states that continue to require certificates of need – to consider whether such laws do more harm than good.

Today’s statement is based on the agencies’ extensive experience with CON laws. The agencies jointly conducted hearings on issues in health care competition, including CON laws, in 2003; those hearings, and related research, led to a 2004 report, Improving Health Care: A Dose of Competition, which observed that, “on balance, CON programs are not successful in containing health care costs, and that they pose serious anticompetitive risks that usually outweigh their purported economic benefits.” Today’s statement is based on that report and more recent economic studies. Recently, the agencies have provided similar statements to the General Assembly and the Senate of the state of Georgia; the Committee on Health, Education and Social Services of the Alaska House of Representatives; and the Florida Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Appropriations.

The Commission vote approving the joint statement was 4-0.

Copies of the joint testimony are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to [email protected], or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at http://www.ftc.gov/competitioncounts.

(FTC File No.: V080018)
(Illinois CON..final.wpd)

FTC Issues Final Order on Remand in Case of North Texas Specialty Physicians

The Federal Trade Commission today issued a Final Order on Remand from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of North Texas Specialty Physicians v. FTC, 528 F.3d 346 (5th Cir. 2008). The FTC’s Final Order on Remand modifies the text in one paragraph of the remedial order (Paragraph II.A) to make it consistent with the Fifth Circuit opinion.
Paragraph II of the Commission’s order contains the core cease-and-desist provisions against North Texas Specialty Physicians (NTSP), prohibiting it from engaging in the anticompetitive price-fixing conduct alleged in the original complaint. Paragraph II.A includes provisions that specifically address types of joint activities that the FTC and the Court of Appeals found NTSP used to carry out its unlawful conduct. The Court of Appeals expressed concern that one provision of that paragraph was internally inconsistent and overly broad.

The Commission’s final order on remand, issued today, addresses these concerns. First, it deletes the reference to agreements “to deal” from Paragraph II.A.2, eliminating the internal inconsistency in the provision to which the Court of Appeals referred, while leaving intact the prohibition against NTSP involvement in collective decisions by physician members on whether, or on what terms, to participate in a payor network. Second, it modifies paragraph II.A.2 by adding the phrase “in furtherance of any conduct or agreement that is prohibited by any other provision of Paragraph II of this Order.”

Finally, the final order on remand rescinds the stay in enforcement of NTSP’s obligation to comply with two other paragraphs in the order (IV.B and IV.C).

Case History

In September 2003, the FTC issued an administrative complaint charging NTSP with unlawfully restraining competition, resulting in increased health care costs for consumers in the
Fort Worth area. The Commission charged the group with violating federal law by implementing agreements among its participating physicians on price and other terms, refusing to deal with payors except on collectively agreed-upon terms, and refusing to submit payor offers to participating doctors unless the offers’ terms complied with NTSP’s minimum-fee standards.

The Commission also alleged that NTSP’s unlawful practices included, among other things, polling its participating physicians to determine the minimum fee they would accept for medical services provided under a group payor agreement and communicating the results back to members, reducing competition among participating doctors. Finally, the Commission charged the group with discouraging payors and participating physicians from negotiating directly with one another and that the arrangements resulted in no increase in clinical integration.

In an initial decision filed on November 8, 2004, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) D. Michael Chappell upheld the Commission’s complaint, finding that NTSP restrained trade by conspiring to fix prices in certain contracts its doctors entered into to provide medical services to health plan patients in Fort Worth. Chappell wrote in the decision that, “The government has proved its case . . .,” and that, “the appropriate remedy [is] an order to cease and desist.” NTSP subsequently appealed the decision to the full Commission, which issued its decision and order in December 2005.

The Commission’s decision, issued in favor of complaint counsel, was authored by Commissioner Thomas B. Leary and announced on December 1, 2005. In it, the FTC affirmed the ALJ’s initial decision that NTSP had illegally fixed prices in its negotiations with payors, including insurance companies and health plans. “This is not really a close case,” the Commission wrote in its opinion. “NTSP’s conduct is similar to conduct that has been found per se unlawful and summarily condemned in other contexts…” In issuing its accompanying order, the FTC required NTSP to cease and desist from engaging in the anticompetitive price-fixing conduct alleged in the complaint. The defendants appealed the Commission’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which issued a unanimous opinion in favor of the FTC on May 14, 2008.

In its opinion, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the FTC’s decision that found certain activities of NTSP violated Section 5 of the FTC Act. In particular, NTSP was found to have participated in horizontal price-fixing that was not related to any procompetitive efficiencies. The appellate court’s decision fully endorsed the analytical framework applied by the Commission in its decision, which found NTSP’s conduct to be “inherently suspect,” with “no procompetitive justification.” The Court did, however, find the FTC’s remedial order overly broad in one narrow respect and remanded it to the Commission for modification, leading to the final order on remand announced today.

The Commission vote approving the issuance of the final order on remand was 4-0.

Copies of the Commission’s final order on remand are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600
Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to [email protected], or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at http://www.ftc.gov/competitioncounts.

(FTC File No.: 021-0075; Docket No. 9312)
(NTSP Final Order.final.wpd)

FTC Issues Final Order on Remand in Case of North Texas Specialty Physicians

The Federal Trade Commission today issued a Final Order on Remand from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of North Texas Specialty Physicians v. FTC, 528 F.3d 346 (5th Cir. 2008). The FTC’s Final Order on Remand modifies the text in one paragraph of the remedial order (Paragraph II.A) to make it consistent with the Fifth Circuit opinion.
Paragraph II of the Commission’s order contains the core cease-and-desist provisions against North Texas Specialty Physicians (NTSP), prohibiting it from engaging in the anticompetitive price-fixing conduct alleged in the original complaint. Paragraph II.A includes provisions that specifically address types of joint activities that the FTC and the Court of Appeals found NTSP used to carry out its unlawful conduct. The Court of Appeals expressed concern that one provision of that paragraph was internally inconsistent and overly broad.

The Commission’s final order on remand, issued today, addresses these concerns. First, it deletes the reference to agreements “to deal” from Paragraph II.A.2, eliminating the internal inconsistency in the provision to which the Court of Appeals referred, while leaving intact the prohibition against NTSP involvement in collective decisions by physician members on whether, or on what terms, to participate in a payor network. Second, it modifies paragraph II.A.2 by adding the phrase “in furtherance of any conduct or agreement that is prohibited by any other provision of Paragraph II of this Order.”

Finally, the final order on remand rescinds the stay in enforcement of NTSP’s obligation to comply with two other paragraphs in the order (IV.B and IV.C).

Case History

In September 2003, the FTC issued an administrative complaint charging NTSP with unlawfully restraining competition, resulting in increased health care costs for consumers in the
Fort Worth area. The Commission charged the group with violating federal law by implementing agreements among its participating physicians on price and other terms, refusing to deal with payors except on collectively agreed-upon terms, and refusing to submit payor offers to participating doctors unless the offers’ terms complied with NTSP’s minimum-fee standards.

The Commission also alleged that NTSP’s unlawful practices included, among other things, polling its participating physicians to determine the minimum fee they would accept for medical services provided under a group payor agreement and communicating the results back to members, reducing competition among participating doctors. Finally, the Commission charged the group with discouraging payors and participating physicians from negotiating directly with one another and that the arrangements resulted in no increase in clinical integration.

In an initial decision filed on November 8, 2004, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) D. Michael Chappell upheld the Commission’s complaint, finding that NTSP restrained trade by conspiring to fix prices in certain contracts its doctors entered into to provide medical services to health plan patients in Fort Worth. Chappell wrote in the decision that, “The government has proved its case . . .,” and that, “the appropriate remedy [is] an order to cease and desist.” NTSP subsequently appealed the decision to the full Commission, which issued its decision and order in December 2005.

The Commission’s decision, issued in favor of complaint counsel, was authored by Commissioner Thomas B. Leary and announced on December 1, 2005. In it, the FTC affirmed the ALJ’s initial decision that NTSP had illegally fixed prices in its negotiations with payors, including insurance companies and health plans. “This is not really a close case,” the Commission wrote in its opinion. “NTSP’s conduct is similar to conduct that has been found per se unlawful and summarily condemned in other contexts…” In issuing its accompanying order, the FTC required NTSP to cease and desist from engaging in the anticompetitive price-fixing conduct alleged in the complaint. The defendants appealed the Commission’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which issued a unanimous opinion in favor of the FTC on May 14, 2008.

In its opinion, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the FTC’s decision that found certain activities of NTSP violated Section 5 of the FTC Act. In particular, NTSP was found to have participated in horizontal price-fixing that was not related to any procompetitive efficiencies. The appellate court’s decision fully endorsed the analytical framework applied by the Commission in its decision, which found NTSP’s conduct to be “inherently suspect,” with “no procompetitive justification.” The Court did, however, find the FTC’s remedial order overly broad in one narrow respect and remanded it to the Commission for modification, leading to the final order on remand announced today.

The Commission vote approving the issuance of the final order on remand was 4-0.

Copies of the Commission’s final order on remand are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600
Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to [email protected], or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at http://www.ftc.gov/competitioncounts.

(FTC File No.: 021-0075; Docket No. 9312)
(NTSP Final Order.final.wpd)

Advice for Consumers Facing Hurricane Ike

For Your Information

The Federal Trade Commission has advice for people who find themselves in the path of Hurricane Ike. A special Web site set up by the agency provides preparedness tips and information about recovery.

Consumers who may be affected by Hurricane Ike can go to:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/recovery/hurricane/index.html.

The agency also has advice to help drivers save money at the pump:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt139.shtm.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FYI hurricane Ike)

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2180

Advice for Consumers Facing Hurricane Ike

For Your Information

The Federal Trade Commission has advice for people who find themselves in the path of Hurricane Ike. A special Web site set up by the agency provides preparedness tips and information about recovery.

Consumers who may be affected by Hurricane Ike can go to:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/recovery/hurricane/index.html.

The agency also has advice to help drivers save money at the pump:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt139.shtm.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FYI hurricane Ike)

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2180

Commission Approves Extension of Divestiture Period in Matter of Linde AG, et al.

– The Commission has approved an extension of time under the order it issued concerning Linde AG, et al.’s acquisition of The BOC Group. The FTC’s order in this matter, issued on August 29, 2006, remedied the proposed acquisition’s likely anticompetitive effects in the bulk refined helium market by requiring Linde to divest bulk refined helium assets, including helium source contracts, ancillary distribution assets, and customer contracts, to Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC). Among other things, the order requires Linde to divest a Northern California helium transfill facility to TNSC by September 15, 2008, unless TNSC builds its own helium transfill in Northern California by that date.

The Monitor in this matter, with the consent of Linde and BOC, requested that the Commission extend the September 15, 2008, deadline until December 31, 2008. The Monitor noted that TNSC’s efforts to complete the construction of its new helium transfill in Newark, California, have been delayed by certain regulatory circumstances beyond TNSC’s control and that extending the time until December 31, 2008, should provide TNSC with sufficient time to complete construction. The Commission has now approved the request and extended the divestiture deadline accordingly.

The Commission vote approving the extension of the divestiture time period was 4-0. (FTC Docket No. C-4163; the staff contact is Roberta S. Baruch, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2861; see press releases dated July 18, September 5, and December 1, 2006; and March 9, 2007.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release 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, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI 44.2008.wpd)

Commission Approves Extension of Divestiture Period in Matter of Linde AG, et al.

– The Commission has approved an extension of time under the order it issued concerning Linde AG, et al.’s acquisition of The BOC Group. The FTC’s order in this matter, issued on August 29, 2006, remedied the proposed acquisition’s likely anticompetitive effects in the bulk refined helium market by requiring Linde to divest bulk refined helium assets, including helium source contracts, ancillary distribution assets, and customer contracts, to Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC). Among other things, the order requires Linde to divest a Northern California helium transfill facility to TNSC by September 15, 2008, unless TNSC builds its own helium transfill in Northern California by that date.

The Monitor in this matter, with the consent of Linde and BOC, requested that the Commission extend the September 15, 2008, deadline until December 31, 2008. The Monitor noted that TNSC’s efforts to complete the construction of its new helium transfill in Newark, California, have been delayed by certain regulatory circumstances beyond TNSC’s control and that extending the time until December 31, 2008, should provide TNSC with sufficient time to complete construction. The Commission has now approved the request and extended the divestiture deadline accordingly.

The Commission vote approving the extension of the divestiture time period was 4-0. (FTC Docket No. C-4163; the staff contact is Roberta S. Baruch, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2861; see press releases dated July 18, September 5, and December 1, 2006; and March 9, 2007.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release 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, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI 44.2008.wpd)

FTC Testifies on the Call Center Consumers Right to Know Act

The Federal Trade Commission provided testimony today before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection regarding H.R. 1776, legislation entitled the “Call Center Consumer’s Right to Know Act.” Lois Greisman, Associate Director of the Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, testified on behalf of the FTC.

The Commission’s testimony began by discussing the agency’s law enforcement experience with call centers, which is based primarily on its enforcement of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and the privacy protections provided by the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. The testimony next provided a history of the Commission’s telemarketing fraud law enforcement program, dating back to 1991, and of the agency’s enforcement of the DNC Registry which was put into place in 2003 to strengthen consumers’ privacy protections.

As an example of the agency’s telemarketing fraud enforcement program, the testimony described “Operation Tele-PHONEY,” the largest law enforcement sweep of the telemarketing industry ever conducted by the FTC. In May 2008, the FTC and other agencies announced they had brought more than 180 civil and criminal law enforcement actions targeting illegal telemarketing due to the sweep and interagency cooperation. The testimony also described how the FTC refers cases for criminal prosecution and how it pursues third parties that facilitate telemarketing fraud.

The testimony then discussed H.R. 1776, which would require call center employees to disclose, in telephone calls with consumers, the physical location of the call center. The Commission provided comments on the draft legislation relating to its scope and enforcement and expressed its willingness to work with the Committee as the legislation progresses.

The Commission vote to approve the testimony and place a copy on the public record was 4-0. The written statement presented at the hearing represents the views of the FTC.

Copies of the Commission’s testimony are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 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 1,500 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.

(FTC File No. P034412)
(Call Center Testimony.final.wpd)