Starting April 30, the Federal Trade Commission will start mailing out 140,000 refund checks totaling about $6 million to buyers of dietary supplements that were falsely marketed as helping women lose substantial weight while eating fatty and high-carb foods. The weight-loss pills were sold under the “For Women Only” brand by television’s home shopping channel, QVC.

When Facebook first revealed it would share personal profile information with third-party partner sites, users and privacy advocates voiced concerns and anger. Now a U.S. Senator wants the Federal Trade Commission, the agency that protects consumers from advance-fee schemes, deceptive marketing practices and credit card scams, to consider if federal guidelines are necessary to protect social media site users from privacy violations.

The Federal Trade Commission told a Senate panel that it is intensifying efforts to combat deceptive and abusive practices by debt collection agencies and outright debt relief scams – as more consumers seek help in these recessionary times. The FTC said it is reviewing public comments on a proposal to amend telemarketing sales rules tied to debt relief advertising.

The Federal Trade Commission today is urging caution for those with mounting credit card debt who seek companies that promise “pennies on the dollar” solutions. There is no guarantee that a debt settlement company can convince a credit card issuer to accept only a partial payment for the full, legitimate debt, the FTC said.

The new required disclaimer for credit monitoring services promoting “free credit reports” on websites and print publications took effect April 2. Those ads must remind consumers that they are entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau under federal law, and provide the official link:

A new Federal Trade Commission rule that helps consumers avoid confusion over those ads for “free credit reports” – which often require them to buy credit monitoring or other services – takes effect today. Those ads must now include disclosures telling consumers that they can obtain one free credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus for free under federal law.

A New Jersey-based telemarketing operation that misled consumers into believing they were giving directly to legitimate charities serving police, firefighters, and veterans has to pay a record $18.8 million and leave the donation business, said the Federal Trade Commission. The civil penalty against Civic Development Group, LLC; CDG Management LLC; and owners Scott Pasch and David Keezer is the largest ever in an FTC consumer protection case, the FTC said.

A marketer who falsely advertised auto loans as pre-approved to low-income, “credit-challenged” consumers has reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alleged that Direct Marketing Associates Corp. and its president and owner, John M. Rainey, Jr. also improperly obtained names of consumers from a credit reporting agency.

ECMC, one of the top 10 student loan guaranty agencies and the U.S. Department of Education’s designated provider for “student loan bankruptcy services,” has reported the theft of personal information of 3.3 million individuals. The theft involved “portable media” data of ECMC guaranteed borrowers and occurred sometime during the weekend of March 20-21 at the company’s headquarters in St. Paul, Minn. The data included names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers.

Consumers will be able dispute inaccurate information about them directly with the information furnishers, including financial institutions that provide negative items to the three credit reporting agencies, according to a new rule by the Federal Trade Commission that takes effect July 1. The FTC confirmed that the so-called Furnisher Rule is set for implementation during a hearing by a House panel yesterday on consumer credit reporting and scoring issues.