FTC settles with bogus international driver's license marketers

| 8/8/2003

Two companies settled Federal Trade Commission charges Aug. 5 that they fraudulently marketed supposedly authentic International Driver's Permits on the Internet. Under the terms, the defendants are prohibited from future marketing of any international driver's licenses or identification documents.

In January 2003, the FTC filed a complaint against Jaguar Business Concepts LP (dba Libertymall.com), its general partner, Cheyenne Investment Alliance LLC, and Cheyenne's member/manager, Jacqueline A. Demer.

The suit alleged the defendants deceptively claimed that consumers could use the phony licenses they marketed on their Web site to drive legally in the United States, to insulate them from sanctions for traffic violations, and as a government photo identification. The defendants charged $65 for each license.

"These so-called international driver's licenses don't give you the legal right to drive, won't help you remove points from your license, and aren't an official government ID," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "We're committed to putting the brakes on companies that make these deceptive claims."

The FTC's complaint was part of "Operation License for Trouble," a law enforcement sweep of six cases filed nationwide charging firms with scamming innocent consumers out of hundreds of dollars.

Authentic international licenses

Authentic international permits enable a person with a valid driver's license to drive in foreign countries that have signed the 1949 United Nations Road Traffic Convention. The international permit is a booklet that translates a consumer's government-issued driver's license into different languages; it is not a substitute for a valid, government-issued license.

Moreover, it cannot be used in place of a suspended or revoked license or as a government-issued identification card. Further, it will not protect consumers from traffic tickets or "points." In the United States, legitimate international permits cost $10 each, and can only be obtained from the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.

The FTC has the right to reopen the case if the financial information Jaguar and Cheyenne submitted is found to be untruthful. Finally, the settlement contains record keeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance.

By Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at dlarsen@landlinemag.com.