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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 11/01/2012

FTC announces new crackdown on robocalls #thecircuit

Robocalls: The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against five agencies that they say made illegal robocalls claiming to give consumers a way to lower the interest rate on their credit card debt. The five companies may have taken in as much as $30 million from consumers in the past two or three years, the agency said.

The telemarketers, the agency said, appeared to pose as representatives from legitimate credit card companies. According to a woman who was called by one of the companies charged in the case, the telemarketers were persistent and “sweet-talked” her into giving up her personal information. The FTC gets more than 200,000 monthly complaints due to these offers, said Charles Harwood, the agency’s deputy consumer protection director in a news conference in Chicago Thursday.

None of the companies named in the actions were available to comment on Thursday.

Harwood said that the FTC would like to return funds taken from consumers who bought the interest-reduction service. The agency is looking for help on the best way to cut down on the number of robocalls that American consumers receive, offering a $50,000 prize to anyone with ideas for a new technical solution to robocalls.

Apple, Samsung: A British judge said that Apple must correct a court-ordered statement on its Web site related to its ongoing intellectual property battle with Samsung.

The notice was supposed to provide clarity to consumers, noting that Samsung had not copied Apple’s intellectual property regarding the iPad. The statement Apple posted does say Samsung tablets do not interfere with “Apple’s registered design” but then goes on to quote passages from British court documents including one that says Samsung tablets are “not as cool” as Apple’s.

It also notes that a German court did find Samsung guilty of infringement when dealing with the same patent.

According to a report from Bloomberg, one of the judges in the case said that the statement is a “plain breach of the order” and that the statements that indicate British courts are out of step with others is not true. The company has been ordered to remove the statement and put a new one in its place within 48 hours. A link to the notice must be in at least 11-point font.

FCC on Sandy: The Federal Communications Commission said that conditions are slowly improving for cellular networks across the regions affected by Hurricane Sandy earlier this year.

Meanwhile, carriers are working on getting service back up and introducing programs to offer help to consumers affected by the hurricane. AT&T and T-Mobile announced Thursday that they have enabled roaming on each other’s networks — enabling consumers to place calls on either company’s network at no charge. AT&T and Verizon are also letting consumers know that they can bring their phones and power cords into stores to charge their phones.

Comcast has also offered to open up its WiFi hotspots to anyone in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, regardless of their Internet service provider.

Pentagon to consider using iPhones for military personnel: The Pentagon is planning to let military personnel use iPhones and Android devices for work, posing a threat to the strongest base of consumers for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices.

Washington, D.C. has been considered one of RIM’s last marketshare strongholds, and the news comes as the company is trying to lure developers and customers to wait for the new BlackBerry 10 operating system due out next year. The company said Wednesday that it is testing phones for the new system at 50 carriers, sending shares up in Thursday trading.

By  |  12:45 PM ET, 11/01/2012

 
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