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The Federal Trade Commission shut-down a Texas firm that allegedly engaged in unfair and deceptive practices related to the marketing of payment card merchant accounts to small businesses nationwide. In its complaint, the FTC stated that Certified Merchant Services misrepresented the terms of merchant account agreements, allowing them fraudulently to debit previously undisclosed fees from the merchants’ bank accounts. A federal district court has issued a temporary restraining order against the defendants, has frozen the defendants’ assets, and appointed a receiver to oversee the company’s future operations.The complaint was filed against Certified Merchant Services, Ltd.; Certified Merchant GP, Inc.; Certified Merchant Services, Inc.; Jonathan Frankel; Craig Frankel; and Randal Best, of Plano, Texas. The companies also do business under the names Transaction Merchant Services, Transaction Merchant Services.Com, and Electrocheck. The FTC said, among other complaints, that CMS deceptively failed to disclose, clearly and conspicuously, that they would charge merchants certain fees, including a minimum of $25 if the merchants did not reach a certain level of card sales; a semi-annual fee of between $33 and $50; and a cancellation fee of between $300 and $400 for cancelling within three years of signing a service contract. For more details visit http://www.ftc.gov.

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