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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FTC orders credit card payment ISO to comply with heightened monitoring practices

Federal Issues FTC Enforcement Payments Credit Cards Consumer Finance FTC Act TSR

Federal Issues

On May 24, the FTC finalized an order against an independent sales organization and its owners (collectively, “respondents”) to settle allegations that they violated the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule by helping scammers launder millions of dollars of consumers’ credit card payments from 2012 to 2013 and ignored warning signs that the merchants were fake. According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, the respondents, among other things, created 43 different merchant accounts for fictitious companies and provided advice to the organizers of the scam on how to spread out the transactions among different accounts to evade detection (covered by InfoBytes here).

Under the terms of the final order, the respondents are required to make several substantial changes to their processes, and are prohibited from engaging in credit card laundering, as well as any other actions to evade fraud and risk monitoring programs. Additionally, the respondents are banned from providing payment processing services to any merchant that is, or is likely to be, engaged in deceptive or unfair conduct, and to any merchant that is flagged as high-risk by the credit card industry monitoring programs. Furthermore, the respondents are required to screen potential merchants who are engaged in certain activities that could harm consumers, and monitor and designate as necessary current merchants who may require additional screening. The FTC noted that it is unable to obtain a monetary judgment in this action due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AMG Capital Management v. FTC, which held that the FTC does not have statutory authority to obtain equitable monetary relief under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act (covered by InfoBytes here).