FTC Issues Final Rule to Protect Consumers in Credit Card Debt

Amendments to Telemarketing Sales Rule Prohibiting Debt Relief Companies From Collecting Advance Fees Will Take Effect in October 2010

Starting on October 27, 2010, for-profit companies that sell debt relief services over the telephone may no longer charge a fee before they settle or reduce a customer’s credit card or other unsecured debt.

“At the FTC we strive every day to make sure America’s middle class families get straight deals for their dollars,” Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “This rule will stop companies who offer consumers false promises of reducing credit card debts by half or more in exchange for large, up-front fees. Too many of these companies pick the last dollar out of consumers’ pockets – and far from leaving them better off, push them deeper into debt, even bankruptcy.”

Three other Telemarketing Sales Rule provisions to take effect on September 27, 2010, will:

require debt relief companies to make specific disclosures to consumers;
prohibit them from making misrepresentations; an
extend the Telemarketing Sales Rule to cover calls consumers make to these firms in response to debt relief advertising.

FTC

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