Action Line: Internet marketers selling international driver's licenses are breaking the law
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 3:16 AM
Dear Action Line: What can you tell me about a company I found on the Internet selling "international driver's licenses?" This seems a little far out to me. - C.K., Bartlesville
It is over the line. In mid-October, the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to 19 Internet marketers warning they are breaking the law by selling documents they promote as legitimate substitutes for "international driving permits" ( tulsaworld.com/FTCIDPletter). The letters say marketers' ads make deceptive claims in violation of the FTC Act.
The letters say: "An international driving permit is an official document, created by several United Nations road traffic conventions, that translates a person's domestic driver's license into several foreign languages. Under these conventions, residents of a signatory country must obtain IDPs from governmental agencies or organizations designated by that country. The U.S. designated the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance as the only authorized issuers of IDPs to U.S. citizens and legal residents."
Consumer groups and state and local law enforcers have charged that, in some cases, the documents are being promoted as legitimate identification to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The FTC stated marketers' websites make a variety of false claims about the documents they are selling, including they "establish a person's right to drive in foreign countries; carry an official status or are recognized as such; meet the requirements of any of the United Nations conventions on road traffic; and serve the same purpose as international driving permits."
The marketing also claims the documents "constitute proof a person's domestic driver's license is valid; allow persons to drive in foreign countries without experiencing difficulties caused by language barriers; fulfill automobile rental companies' requirements renters possess IDPs; can be used to purchase automobile insurance; and can be used as identification documents in the same ways people can use government-issued photo-identification documents."
The letters advise marketers to review their websites to identify deceptive or misleading statements and to notify the FTC of when they intend to remove or revise the claims.
On Sept. 20, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Las Vegas company for selling "invalid international driver's licenses and identification cards to Arkansas residents."
The lawsuit states: "American ID Solutions, operated by Saul G. Gomez of Las Vegas, fraudulently represents the ID cards as official, legal documents. Advertisements target Spanish-speaking consumers, and American ID Solutions claims the cards entitle holders to drive in any part of the world, rent cars in any city, obtain titles and insurance and avoid most traffic citations."
"This company intentionally made false and misleading sales pitches to consumers who are unfamiliar with the process of obtaining official identification cards or licenses," McDaniel said. "We asked the court to order this company to cease its deceptive practices and stop the sale of these useless cards."
American ID Solutions sells its so-called "international driver's licenses" for $175 each and ID cards for $75 each. The documents bear a strong resemblance to legitimate driver's licenses, but they serve no legal purpose.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington County Circuit Court in Fayetteville and alleges American ID Solutions and Gomez violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
McDaniel requested the company be ordered to stop its illegal business practices, provide restitution to affected consumers and pay civil penalties.
Original Print Headline: Sites selling international driver's licenses break law
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