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FDIC Announces Settlement With Insurance Company for Misuse of the FDIC Logo and Seal and Misrepresentation of Insured Financial Products
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced a settlement with AL Amerilife First Financial, LLC, an entity responsible for managing Amerilife First Financial, LLC, of Clearwater, Florida, formerly known as Interstate First Financial, LLC and other commonly controlled entities (collectively Amerilife). Amerilife is an insurance company that markets and sells insurance and financial products, such as annuities, nationwide. As part of its marketing campaign, Amerilife advertised above market-rate certificates of deposit (CDs) in 80 newspapers nationwide. Amerilife generated customer lists with information from those who responded to the ads in order to later contact the consumers and attempt to sell them uninsured annuities.
The FDIC has reason to believe that Amerilife violated the amended Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDI Act), 12 U.S.C. § 1828(a)(4), relating to misuse of the FDIC sign, seal, and symbol and misrepresentation of the insured status of entities and products. Specifically, Amerilife's CD ads promised an interest rate on the CDs higher than the rates offered by any bank, and prominently displayed the FDIC logo and seal, giving the impression that Amerilife was an insured bank. When a consumer went into an Amerilife office to purchase the advertised CD, Amerilife helped the consumer sign up for the CD on a bank's website. Amerilife then forwarded a bonus payment plus the consumer's check to the bank as the CD principal. The total amount created the rate of return advertised by Amerilife. The advertisements, however, misrepresented the actual terms and conditions under which the bank offered the insured CDs.
AL Amerilife has consented to a Cease and Desist Order that will correct the violations of the FDI Act and prevent Amerilife from using the FDIC sign, seal, and symbol, and from misrepresenting that its financial products are insured. The order, dated June 18, 2009, also requires Amerilife to pay a civil money penalty of $100,000. In agreeing to the issuance of the order, Amerilife does not admit or deny any liability.
"The Amerilife settlement demonstrates the FDIC's commitment to protecting the integrity of the FDIC name, logo and seal. Seniors and other consumers rely on these symbols of confidence and stability, particularly during these difficult economic times," said FDIC Board member Thomas J. Curry. "Any person or business that deceptively uses the FDIC name, logo or seal to market non-insured financial products should be aware that the FDIC will pursue and stop these deceptive and damaging marketing practices."
Copies of the FDIC's Order to Cease and Desist and Order to Pay issued against Amerilife are available at the FDIC's website at www.fdic.gov.
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Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 8,246 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed. The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars – insured financial institutions fund its operations.
FDIC press releases and other information are available on the Internet at www.fdic.gov, by subscription electronically (go to www.fdic.gov/about/subscriptions/index.html) and may also be obtained through the FDIC's Public Information Center (877-275-3342 or 703-562-2200). PR-93-2009
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