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Court bans international company, executives following FTC lawsuit

ADA: Look out for scams

September 22, 2016 Chicago — A federal court has banned a Slovakia-based company and two of its executives from the business directory business following a 2013 suit the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed.

In 2013, the agency filed a complaint against Construct Data Publishers (also called Fair Guide), and requested a permanent injunction against its executives Wolfgang Valvoda and Susanne Anhorn for scamming small businesses and other retailers, according to a FTC release.

The ADA on the Center for Professional Success website reminds members to be on the lookout for scams and to train staff to be "skeptical of unsolicited, or cold, calls." In particular, the FTC urges businesses and organizations to read the fine print and to share suspicions with authorities and colleagues.

In the complaint against Construct, the FTC alleged that by using direct mail the defendants scammed the businesses into signing a form "confirming or updating their contact information for a trade show they had attended or planned to attend." However, the FTC said that that by signing and returning the form, most of the signees failed to notice they were "agreeing to pay $1,717 annually to the company for a listing on its website."

In the final orders announced Sept. 19, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, imposed a $7 million default judgment and banned the defendants from the business directory business and also prohibited them from "misrepresenting any product or service, attempting to collect payment for their business directory listings, profiting from consumers' personal information, or failing to dispose of consumers' personal information properly."

If you've spotted a business directory scam — or been a victim of one — file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint. Learn more about the FTC's tips for spotting scams here.

The ADA Center for Professional Success also has tips to help ADA member dentists safeguard their practice from scams.

ADA 2016 – America’s Dental Meeting in Denver will feature a no fee course on scams. ADA attorneys Jeffrey Fraum and Cathryn E. Albrecht will facilitate Skip the Scams and Other Costly Contract Mistakes (5340) from 12:45-1:45 p.m. Oct. 20. in Booth 3400.