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    Edelman, Combs, Latturner, & Goodwin, LLC

    20 South Clark Street
    Suite 1500
    Chicago, IL 60603

    info@edcombs.com
    Phone: 312-739-4200
    Fax: 312-419-0379


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    Private student loans

    Saturday, March 18th, 2017

    Please contact us if you are in Illinois and someone is trying to collect a private student loan on which there has been no payment for more than five years.

    Los Angeles-Based Sage Auto Group Will Pay $3.6 Million to Settle FTC Charges

    Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

    Los Angeles-Based Sage Auto Group Will Pay $3.6 Million to Settle FTC Charges

    Allegedly Used Deceptive and Unfair Sales and Financing Tactics

    FOR RELEASE

    Sage Automotive Group – nine Los Angeles-based auto dealerships, their holding and management companies, and two individuals – has agreed to pay more than $3.6 million for return to consumers in order to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it used deceptive and unfair sales and financing practices, deceptive advertising, and deceptive online reviews.

    The proposed settlement order, which will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for approval, will prohibit the defendants from making misrepresentations relating to their advertising, add-on products, financing, and endorsements or testimonials.

    The proposed order will also bar the defendants from engaging in other unlawful conduct when a sale is cancelled, such as failing to return any down payment or trade-in or seeking legal action, arrest, repossession or debt collection unless the action is lawful and the defendants intend to take such action. It also prohibits them from violating the Truth In Lending Act and Regulation Z, and the Consumer Leasing Act and Regulation M.

    The corporate defendants are Universal City Nissan, Inc., also d/b/a Universal Nissan; Sage Downtown, Inc., also d/b/a Kia of Downtown Los Angeles; Glendale Nissan/Infiniti, Inc., also d/b/a Glendale Infiniti and Glendale Nissan; Valencia Holding Co., LLC, also d/b/a Mercedes-Benz of  Valencia; West Covina Auto Group, LLC, also d/b/a West Covina Toyota and West Covina Toyota/Scion; West Covina Nissan, LLC; Covina MJL, LLC, also d/b/a Sage Covina Chevrolet; Sage North Hollywood, LLC, also d/b/a Sage Pre-Owned; Sage Vermont, LLC, also d/b/a Sage Hyundai; Sage Holding Company Inc. and Sage Management Company Inc.

    The individual defendants are Joseph Schrage and Michael Schrage.

    The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 2-1, with Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen dissenting.

    NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge

    FTC Reaches Settlement With Nationwide Debt Relief Provider

    Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

    A debt relief company and its principals who allegedly misled consumers and charged illegal advance fees will be banned from those practices under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

    According to the FTC’s complaint, United Debt Counselors LLC exaggerated how much money people would save using its services. The company’s direct mail ads, which reached up to 100,000 consumers per week, looked like official documents from a bank or attorney, and claimed that typical customers would have their credit card debt cut in half and become debt-free within 36 months.

    The defendants allegedly repeated similar claims on their website and by phone when consumers called in response to the mail. They claimed a high success rate and asserted that consumers rarely dropped out of their program. The defendants also claimed they provided consumers with a special savings account that only consumers could control, but according to the FTC, the defendants removed monthly fees from the accounts.

    The FTC alleged that consumers who wanted to buy the debt relief services were told they had to meet with an experienced sales representative, but instead the defendants sent notaries public, who had scant product knowledge, to show a sales video and witness contract signings. The defendants typically charged advance fees before they negotiated any savings on credit card debts. Such advance fees violate the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) unless consumers first meet face-to-face with a knowledgeable sales representative who can fully describe the program and answer questions.

    According to the FTC, fewer than half of those who bought the services completed the program, and even fewer were debt-free at the end of 36 months.

    The defendants are United Debt Counselors LLC, also known as United Debt Services LLC and also doing business as Department of Negotiations; David Melrose; Kirk Lanahan and Corinne Maples.

    Under a stipulated order, the defendants are banned from making misrepresentations about debt relief and other financial products or services, and making unsubstantiated claims about any products or services. They can charge advance fees only if they comply with the TSR; sales persons making face-to-face sales presentations must have authority to discuss material terms, they must do so in specific detail, and they must be able to answer consumers’ questions. The order imposes a $9 million judgment that represents the amount of alleged harm to consumers. It will be partially suspended upon payment of $510,000. The full judgment will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

    The FTC has previously instructed debt relief companies that representations about debt relief services are deceptive unless all consumers are included in the calculations, and it has warned businesses not to engage in sham face-to-face presentations. To learn more, read Debt Relief Services & the Telemarketing Sales Rule: A Guide for Business.

    The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and stipulated final order was 2-0. The FTC filed the complaint and final order in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

    NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final injunctions/orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

    Debt collection abuse and imposter scams are most common consumer complaints

    Friday, March 3rd, 2017

    Imposter scams are now the second most common source of consumer complaints

    Imposter scam complaints surpassed identity theft for the first time as the second most common category of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network in 2016, according to the agency’s new Data Book.

    Although debt collection complaints declined slightly between 2015 and 2016, they remained the top consumer complaint category, comprising 28 percent of all complaints. The high number of reported debt collection complaints was due in part to complaints submitted by a data contributor who collects complaints via a mobile app.

    The rise in impostor scam reports is due to an increase in complaints about government imposters. Imposter scams come in many varieties, but work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone trustworthy, such as a government official or computer technician to convince a consumer to send money. Imposter scams also topped the list of complaints from military consumers followed by identity theft complaints.

    Identity theft complaints declined from 16 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2016, with 29 percent of 2016 consumers reporting that their data was used to commit tax fraud. There was a jump in those consumers who reported that their stolen data was used for credit card fraud; this figure rose from nearly 16 percent in 2015 to more than 32 percent in 2016.

    “Our latest data book shows that imposter scams are a serious and growing problem, and you can be sure that the FTC will use all the tools at its disposal to address it,” said Thomas Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That includes law enforcement actions against scammers and consumer education to help consumers avoid losing money.”

    The most widely reported method of payment (58 percent) for those who reported losing money to fraud was a wire transfer. Of those who noted in their fraud complaint how they were first contacted, 77 percent said it was by phone.

    The FTC urges consumers to be wary of any caller asking for a wire transfer. The government will not ask a consumer to wire money, and it is illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire. Consumers who get a suspicious call should take their time and check it out. Call the government agency on a phone line you know to be real — not the phone number given by the suspicious caller.

    In 2016, the Consumer Sentinel Network collected more than 3.1 million consumer complaints, which the FTC has sorted into 30 top complaint categories. As with 2015, Florida, Georgia and Michigan were the top three states for fraud and other complaints, while Michigan, Florida and Delaware were the top three states for identity theft complaints.

    The complaint categories making up the top 10 are:

     

    Number of complaints

    Percentages
    Debt Collection 859,090 28
    Impostor Scams 406,578 13
    Identity Theft 399,225 13
    Telephone and Mobile Services   292,155 10
    Banks and Lenders   143,987   5
    Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries   141,643   5
    Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales   109,831   4
    Auto-Related Complaints     94,673   3
    Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users     49,679   2
    Television and Electronic Media 49,546   2

    The FTC produces the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book annually using complaints received by the Consumer Sentinel Network. These include complaints made directly by consumers to the FTC, as well as complaints received by state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

    The Data Book includes national statistics, as well as a state-by-state listing of top complaint categories in each state and a listing of metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints per capita.

    The Consumer Sentinel Network’s secure online database is currently available to more than 2,300 individual users in civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country and abroad. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims and track possible targets. Although non-governmental organizations may contribute data to the database, only law enforcement agencies can access the databas

    HBLC, CGR Services

    Friday, March 3rd, 2017

    Please contact us if you have been sued by debt buyers HBLC or CGR Services

    Salander Enterprises

    Monday, February 27th, 2017

    Please contact us if Salander Enterprises is attempting to collect money from you in Illinois.

    American Profit Recovery

    Monday, February 27th, 2017

    Please contact us if American Profit Recovery is attempting to collect money from you.

    Louisiana drug and dietary supplement maker ordered to cease operations due to federal violations

    Saturday, February 25th, 2017

    FDA News Release

    Louisiana drug and dietary supplement maker ordered to cease operations due to federal violations

    For Immediate Release

    February 21, 2017

    Release

    On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert G. James for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals, a manufacturer and distributor of drugs and dietary supplements, and its owner, Anton S. Botha, requiring the business to immediately cease operations until it comes into compliance with federal laws.

    The complaint, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, sought a permanent injunction against the company and its owners for unlawfully manufacturing and distributing unapproved new drugs, misbranded drugs, adulterated dietary supplements and misbranded dietary supplements.

    The company and its owner marketed their products online at www.ciliminerals.com, www.cilihealthstore.com and www.cil-ergy.com. They also sold their products through a retail location in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    “The FDA works with companies to ensure their processes comply with the public health requirements in our laws and regulations,” said Melinda Plaisier, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “But when a company refuses to comply, we will take enforcement action.”

    The FDA inspected Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals four times since 2012. During the inspections, the FDA found Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals was manufacturing and distributing misbranded and unapproved new drugs as well as misbranded and adulterated dietary supplements. The defendants marketed their products with claims that they could treat medical conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, bipolar disorder, brain injury and epilepsy. The FDA has not approved Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals’ drugs for any use.

    During the inspection, FDA investigators also found numerous violations of the agency’s current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations for dietary supplements, including failing to establish specifications for dietary supplement components and failure to test or verify that components and finished products meet product specifications for identity, purity, strength or composition. Because the defendants failed to follow cGMP regulations, their dietary supplements are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

    In May 2015, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals for similar violations.

    The consent decree prohibits the company and its owner from marketing and distributing misbranded or unapproved new drugs and adulterated or misbranded dietary supplements. Before the company and its owners can resume operations, they must, among other things, recall and destroy their existing stock of drugs and dietary supplements, hire labeling and good manufacturing practices experts, and receive written permission from the FDA to resume operations.

    Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals is based in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    FBCS Services

    Friday, February 24th, 2017

    Please contact us if you have received a collection letter from Financial Business and Consumer Solutions, Inc., doing business as FBCS Services

    Threats of credit reporting

    Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

    Please contact us if you receive a collection letter referring to credit reporting.