Ads for these products promised rapid weight loss (without anything to back up that claim), used fake customer testimonials, and promised "risk-free" trials that were all but impossible to get out of.

Scammy Sellers Of AF Plus, Final Trim Weight-Loss Pills Made Millions From Bogus “Risk-Free” Trials

You may have heard radio ads for weight loss supplements named AF Plus and Final Trim, promising “24 hours of fat burning power” and “maximum weight loss,” along with supposed real-world testimonials about how well these pills worked — and how you can try them now through a “risk-free” trial. Problem is, those people in the ads claiming they lost all that weight are just as fictitious as the free trial. [More]

Full Disclosure: Neither Butterfinger nor Simon & Garfunkel paid to be advertised in this story. (photo: Renee Rendler-Kaplan)

Feds Clarify When & How Advertisers Need To Reveal They Paid For Sponsored Stories

If you’re reading a website about business travel and you read an interesting news story about saving money on hotels, does it matter to you if that “article” was paid for by an advertiser? If so, how should that sponsorship be communicated to the reader? [More]

Federal Regulators Still Objecting To Marriage Of Staples And Office Depot

Federal Regulators Still Objecting To Marriage Of Staples And Office Depot

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission went to court in an effort to block the pending merger of office-supply mega chains Staples and Office Depot, saying that it would result in too little competition in the market for supplies being sold to businesses. Since then, Staples has tried to revise the deal to make it more palatable, but to no avail. [More]

The makers of NeverCurl allegedly urged one their competitors to agree to sell their product at the same price on Amazon.

Collusion Scandal Grips Rug Accessory Industry

We’d like to think that only huge corporations — titans of telecom, colossi of crude, barons of beef — run by guys who look like Rich Uncle Pennybags are involved in sketchy backroom collusion. But even players in “I didn’t know they even existed” markets try to get overly clever and rig the system to their advantage. [More]

CenturyLink customers joined Consumers Union's End Robocalls team this morning to deliver a petition to the CL offices in Phoenix.

More Than 500,000 People Ask CenturyLink To Help End Robocalls

Even though the FCC has said that landline operators can offer robocall-blocking technology to their customers, many of them have so far chosen to not do so. That’s why our colleagues at Consumers Union hand-delivered a petition with more than 500,000 signatures to CenturyLink this morning, hoping to drive home how fed-up consumers are with these unwanted interruptions. [More]

(Louis Abate)

Amazon Sends Me Someone Else’s Order. Why Don’t They Care If I Send It Back?

In the midst of all the shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Wet and Wild Wednesday, Thanksgiving 2.0 For People Who Were Out Of Town Or In The Hospital Last Week Thursday, and Black Friday All Over Again Because Why Not?, there are oodles of Amazon packages landing on shoppers’ doorsteps. In some rare cases, those packages might end up on the wrong doorstep, so why does Amazon not seem terribly concerned about getting those items back? [More]

Google Accused Of Snooping On Students’ Internet Activity

Google Accused Of Snooping On Students’ Internet Activity

Google is one of more than 200 companies that have signed on to the “Student Privacy Pledge,” in which it promises to, among other things, “Not collect, maintain, use or share student personal information beyond that needed for authorized educational/school purposes.” But a new complaint accuses the Internet biggie of breaking its oath and spying on kids’ online activity. [More]

Car Dealers Can’t Scream “Zero Down On All Leases” If Most Buyers Won’t Qualify For Deal

Car Dealers Can’t Scream “Zero Down On All Leases” If Most Buyers Won’t Qualify For Deal

Car dealers are known for hyperbolic slogans like “Everybody rides!” or “Nobody walks away from our lot!,” but that sort of puffery is a far cry from repeatedly claiming that the advertised lease price includes “Zip, Zero, Zilch — Nothing Down!” only to hide the ugly truth in fine print that most people won’t understand. [More]

FTC Bans Wire Transfers, Reloadable Cash Cards, And Payment Orders In Phone Transactions

FTC Bans Wire Transfers, Reloadable Cash Cards, And Payment Orders In Phone Transactions

We’ve shared warnings about many different types of telemarketing scams, but they all have one thing in common: they extract money from their victims using quick and untraceable methods like wire transfers or prepaid debit cards. Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced an amendment to current telemarketing rules that’s meant to protect consumers from fraud over the phone lines. [More]

Criminal charges have been filed against USP Labs -- the maker of Jack3d -- and several of its principals by federal prosecutors.

Feds File Criminal, Civil Cases Against More Than 100 Supplement Companies

A sweeping multi-agency federal investigation has resulted in a slew of criminal and civil charges being brought against more than 100 companies that either make or market supposed dietary supplements for selling products that allegedly contain ingredients other than those listed on the label, or products that make unsubstantiated health or disease-treatment claims. [More]

(Paul)

Feds Shut Down Phony Apple, Microsoft, Google Tech Support Scammers

While consumers are much more tech-savvy today than we were during the days of Windows 3.1 and baud modems, there are still a lot of people whose tech-insecurity makes them potential prey for bogus tech support businesses that make money by convincing victims their computers are infected with viruses. [More]

Sale Of Commercial Supply Business Could Let Staples-Office Depot Merger Go Through

Sale Of Commercial Supply Business Could Let Staples-Office Depot Merger Go Through

One of the barriers to the formation of the StaplesMaxDepot office-supply Voltron has been the commercial supply businesses that both companies run: in addition to running retail stores, they both also do business delivering office supplies to corporate clients. One possibility could let the mega-merger go forward: Staples could sell its commercial supply business to competitor Essendant. [More]

(Tara Chavez)

Scammers Who Defrauded Scam Victims Barred From Scamming Anyone Else

Imagine you’ve been a victim of that old “woke up in a bathtub with my kidney gone” urban legend. As you stumble out of the hotel in urgent need of medical care, you come across a helpful doctor who will tend to your wounds… only to wake up in another tub with another missing organ. Replace “unauthorized donation of precious, life-sustaining organs” with “telemarketing fraud” and you’ve got the basis for a scam that took in nearly $3 million from people who had already been the victims of fraud. [More]

Regulators Drop Probe Into Walmart’s “Made In The U.S.A.” Labeling After Designation Dropped From Website

Regulators Drop Probe Into Walmart’s “Made In The U.S.A.” Labeling After Designation Dropped From Website

Four months after an advertising watchdog group called out Walmart’s website for selling more than 100 products labeled as “Made in the U.S.A.” even though they were manufactured in other countries, raising the watchful eye of federal regulators, the retailer announced it had removed the designation from its products.  [More]

The makers of Doryx are currently being sued by a company that claims last-minute tweaks to the acne medication have delayed the availability of a generic equivalent.

How Drug Companies Use “Product Hopping” To Fight Off Affordable Generic Drugs

You’re probably used to the idea of your doctor prescribing you a brand-name drug and your pharmacist automatically substituting a lower-cost generic equivalent that saves you, the drugstore, and your insurer money. But there’s practice known in the industry as “product hopping” that brand-name drug makers can use to repeatedly delay generic versions from reaching consumers. [More]

Wyndham Hotels Loses Legal Battle With Feds Over Lax Security Practices

Wyndham Hotels Loses Legal Battle With Feds Over Lax Security Practices

If a consumer-facing company, like say a massive hotel chain, touts its dedication to the security of customer information and then does something to repeatedly put that information at risk — like storing unencrypted credit card data on barely secure networks — can they be forced to share some of the blame when hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers are stolen? The hotel chain says that would be blaming the victim, but a federal appeals court has affirmed the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to go after businesses that fail to live up to their security promises. [More]

Makers Of Ultraviolet “Disinfectant” Devices Penalized $1.3M For Making False Germ-Killing Claims

Makers Of Ultraviolet “Disinfectant” Devices Penalized $1.3M For Making False Germ-Killing Claims

A bit of advice to gadget-makers out there: If you’re going to claim that your ultraviolet light product can ” kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria in 10 seconds or less” or eradicate disease-spreading fungus and drug-resistant MRSA, then you should have the science to back these claims up. [More]

Until May 2015, Par's generic form of Kapvay (clonidine hydrochloride) was the only generic version available in the U.S., even though Concordia also had the rights to market a competing generic.

Drug Companies Agreed To Not Compete, Resulting In High Price For Generic Medication

Imagine that Bob and Mary are the only two kids in town allowed to sell lemonade. They could try to compete against each other, potentially resulting in lower prices, improved juice, or better service… or Mary could say to Bob, “How’s about you pay me some money so I don’t exercise my option to sell lemonade?” That means the price for lemonade is whatever Bob says it is, and he’s encouraged to keep it high because he’s paying some of that money out to Mary. Now imagine this isn’t about lemonade, but about prescription drugs. [More]