avoid-scams2018-09-14T14:33:53+00:00

Avoid Invention Promotion And Marketing Scams


Every year in the United States many individuals who believe they have an idea for a great new product pay too much money for invention related products and services that are not a good value for them. While not all such products or services are "fraudulent", some may be. Be careful, and learn to protect yourself against those who would take advantage of you.

Unfortunately, there are people and companies out there who take unfair advantage of people who believe that they have inventions. These people and companies, often referred to as invention "promoters" or "marketers", promise a variety of services supposedly to help people make money from their ideas, secure a licensing deal with industry, get an invention manufactured and distributed, or secure patent protection. In a great number of cases, many thousands of dollars are charged for services that provide no meaningful return to the consumer. So many people have lost money to these unscrupulous individuals and businesses that laws at both the state and federal level have been passed to try and protect consumers.

Your Federal Rights
When Dealing With Invention Promoters

Because so many inventors were taken advantage of there are now laws that give consumers certain rights when dealing with "invention promoters". At the federal level there is the American Inventor’s Protection Act which requires all invention promoters to disclose the following information to a customer in writing, prior to entering into a contract for invention promotion services:



  1. the total number of inventions evaluated by the invention promoter for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative evaluations;

  2. the total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promoter in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter;

  3. the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter;

  4. the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter; and

  5. the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years.

A customer who enters into a contract with an invention promoter and is injured because the above disclosures weren’t made, or the invention promoter made other materially false or fraudulent representations or omissions, can sue the invention promoter for the customer’s damages, reasonable costs, and attorney fees.

If the false representations or omissions were made willfully, and with the intent to deceive the customer, the court may also triple the damages against the invention promoter. Statutory damages may also be elected by the customer in an amount up to $5000.

While these remedies are significant, inventors still need to be aware that the federal law has a specific definition of who is an "invention promoter" subject to the law, and only protects "individuals" who contract with invention promoters for "invention promotion services".

Protection Under State Law

In addition to the protections offered by federal law under the American Inventor’s Protection Act, a large number of states have enacted laws to combat fraudulent invention promotion services.

For example, the State of California has an extensive set of laws dealing with invention development services contracts. Under California law invention developers must be bonded, comply with a number of disclosure requirements to customers, treat information received by customers as confidential, and provide quarterly written reports to customers of the services being provided starting six months after a contract is entered into.

Under California law, customers also have a right to cancel any invention development service contract within seven days of entering into it and receive all of their money back. Violations of the invention development services law in California gives injured persons the right to sue for the greater of $3000 or three times their actual damages, and also seek attorney fees. Willful violators of the law are also subject to criminal prosecution.


The laws intended to protect consumers from fraudulent promotion schemes only go so far, and don’t provide protection against overpriced services or products that, while perhaps not fraudulent, don’t really help an inventor achieve the ultimate goal of success.

There is nothing wrong with being new to product development, or seeking out the help and services of others. Indeed, an inventor will almost always need to find, and work with, other people and businesses in order to successfully develop their idea into a successful commercial product. However, inventor’s need to be very careful when it comes to using the services of companies who promise to help protect and promote their ideas to industry, and/or get them a licensing deal. While such companies may actually stay within the bounds of the law, and actually do the things they commit in writing to do, the services or products provided may end up being an unwise, and very costly, mistake by inventors that gets them nowhere in the end.

Once you know and understand what is really involved in being able to bring a product to market, you will understand that in many cases the services and products offered by invention promotion or assistance companies are often not a good value. In all cases, it is strongly recommended that before you enter into any arrangement concerning your idea with another person or business, especially with someone that is promising to help you protect and promote your invention, speak directly with an independent qualified registered U.S. patent attorney. Doing so could save you from making a very expensive mistake.

If you believe that you have made a mistake entering into any contract, or paying money, to a person or business for invention development, marketing, promoting, or licensing services you should consult with a qualified registered patent attorney to see what remedies you may have available under federal and state law. Time may be of the essence so do not delay.

2003 Federal Trade Commission
Invention Promotion Alert

Invention Promotion Firms

Think you have a great idea for a new product or service? You’re not alone. Every year, tens of thousands of people try to develop their ideas and commercially market them.

Some people try to sell their idea or invention to a manufacturer that would market it and pay royalties. But finding a company to do that can be difficult. As an alternative, others use the services of an invention promotion firm. Indeed, some inventors pay thousands of dollars to firms that promise to evaluate, develop, patent, and market inventions…and then do little or nothing for their fees.

Unscrupulous promoters take advantage of an inventor’s enthusiasm for a new product or service. They not only urge inventors to patent their ideas or invention, but they also make false and exaggerated claims about the market potential of the invention. The facts are:

  1. few inventions ever make it to the marketplace; and
  2. although a patent can provide valuable protection for a successful invention, getting a patent doesn’t necessarily increase the chances of commercial success.

There’s great satisfaction in developing a new product or service and in getting a patent. But when it comes to determining market potential, inventors should proceed with caution as they try to avoid falling for the sweet-sounding promises of a fraudulent promotion firm.

Using Invention Promotion Firms

Advertisements for invention promotion firms are on television, radio and the Internet, and in newspapers and magazines. These ads target independent inventors with offers of free information on how to patent and market their inventions. Often, however, the only information you get is about the promoter.

If you respond to the ads — which may urge you to call a toll-free number — you may hear back from a salesperson who will ask for a sketch of the invention and information about you and your idea. As an inducement, a firm may offer to do a free preliminary review of your invention.

Some invention promotion firms may claim to know or have special access to manufacturers who are likely to be interested in licensing your invention. In addition, some firms may claim to represent manufacturers on the look-out for new product ideas. Ask for proof, such as contacts at manufacturers, before you sign a contract with any invention promotion firm that claims special relationships with manufacturers. If the promoter provides only one or two names, be careful: The contacts may be "shills" — people hired to give favorable testimonials.

After giving your invention a preliminary review, a firm might tell you it needs to do a market evaluation of your idea — for a fee that can be several hundred dollars. Many questionable firms don’t do any genuine research or market evaluations. Sometimes the "research" is bogus, and the "positive" reports are mass-produced in an effort to sell clients on additional invention promotion and marketing services. Fraudulent invention promotion firms don’t offer an honest appraisal of the merit, technical feasibility, or market potential of an invention.

Some invention promotion firms also may offer a contract in which they agree to help you market and license your invention to manufacturers. Unscrupulous promoters may require you to pay a fee of several thousand dollars in advance, or to agree to make credit payments instead. Reputable licensing agents usually don’t rely on large advance fees. Rather, they depend on royalties from the successful licensing of client inventions. How can they make money when so few inventions achieve commercial success? They’re choosy about which ideas or inventions they pursue. If a firm is enthusiastic about the market potential of your idea — but wants to charge you a large fee in advance — take your business elsewhere.

Inventor Protections

If you’re interested in working with an invention promotion firm, here’s information that can help you avoid making a costly mistake. The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 gives you certain rights when dealing with invention promoters. Before an invention promoter can enter into a contract with you, it must disclose the following information about its business practices during the past five years:

  • How many inventions it has evaluated,

  • how many of those inventions got positive or negative evaluations,

  • its total number of customers,

  • how many of those customers received a net profit from the promoter’s services, and

  • how many of those customers have licensed their inventions due to the promoter’s service


This information can help you determined how selective the promoter has been in deciding which inventions it promotes and how successful the promoter has been.

Many fraudulent invention promotion firms offer inventors two services in a two-step process: one involves a research report or market evaluation of your idea that can cost you hundreds of dollars. The other involves patenting or marketing and licensing services, which can cost you several thousand dollars. Early in your discussion with a promotion firm, ask for the total cost of its services, from the "research" about your invention through the marketing and licensing. Walk away if the salesperson hesitates to answer.

Many fraudulent companies offer to provide invention assistance or marketing services in exchange for advance fees that can range from $5,000 to $10,000. Some even offer to finance the full amount to entice inventors into making a quick decision. Reputable licensing agents rarely rely on large up-front fees.

Unscrupulous invention promotion firms tell all inventors that their ideas are among the relative few that have market potential. The truth is that most ideas don’t make any money.

Check References

Ask the promoter to give you the names of many previous purchasers so that you can pick and choose who to call for references. Again, beware of shills.

Fraudulent invention promotion firms may promise to register your idea with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Disclosure Document Program. Although many scam artists charge high fees to do this, you can do it for $10 by filing your document with the USPTO directly. The disclosure is accepted as evidence of the date of conception of the invention, but it doesn’t offer patent protection.

Unscrupulous firms often promise that they will exhibit your idea at trade shows, but don’t actually go to these trade shows, much less market your idea effectively. Check with previous clients and trade show sponsors about whether their ideas were exhibited.

Many unscrupulous firms agree in their contracts to identify manufacturers by coding your idea with the U.S. Bureau of Standard Industrial Code (SIC). Lists of manufacturers that come from classifying your idea with the SIC usually are of limited value.

Tips Before Moving Forward

Contracting for the services of an invention promotion firm is no different from making many other major purchases. Apply some common sense.

Question claims and assurances that your invention will make money. No one can guarantee your invention’s success.

Investigate the company before you make any commitment. Call the USPTO at 1-866-767-3848, and the Better Business Bureau, the consumer protection agency, and the Attorney General in your state or city, and in the state or city where the company is headquartered. Under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, invention promoters must give you the names and addresses of all invention promotion companies they have been affiliated with over the past 10 years. Use this information to determine whether the company you’re considering doing business with has been subject to complaints or legal action.

If a promoter causes you financial injury by failing to make the required disclosures, by making any false or fraudulent statements or representations, or by omitting any fact, you have the right to sue the promoter and recover the amount of your injury plus costs and attorneys’ fees.

In addition, while the USPTO has no civil authority to bring law enforcement actions against invention promoters, it will accept your complaint and post it online if you complete the form, Complaint Regarding Invention Promoter, at www.uspto.gov/web/forms/2048.pdf. The USPTO also will forward your complaint to the promoter, and publish its response online. To read complaints and responses, visit Inventor Resources at www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/index.htm.

Make sure your contract contains all the terms you agreed to — verbal and written — before you sign. Often the contract says one thing but the salesperson says something quite different. If possible, ask an attorney to review the agreement. Remember that once a dishonest company has your money, you may never get it back. You may have to sue the company under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, which permits a customer to recover for injuries, costs, and legal fees if a promoter has failed to make disclosures, made any false or fraudulent statement or representation, or omitted any material fact, to a customer. You have the burden to show that the law has been violated.

For More Information


  • U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

  • The USPTO offers information about patents and trademarks. Write: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; call toll-free at 1-800-PTO-9199; or visit www.uspto.gov. For more information about the Disclosure Document Program, Provisional Applications or Non-provisional Applications call 1-800-PTO-9199. In addition, every state has a Patent and Trademark Depository Library that maintains collections of current and previously-issued patents and Patent and Trademark reference materials.To order a copy of the American Inventors Protection Act, call 1-800-PTO-9199, or visit www.uspto.gov.

  • National Congress Of Inventor Organizations

  • NCIO offers free articles, information, resources, and an online magazine America’s Inventor Online. To contact NCIO, call toll-free 1-323-878-6952, or visit www.inventionconvention.com/ncio.

  • United Inventors Association

  • UIA offers free articles, information, resources, referrals to local support groups for inventors, and online copies of its newsletter. To contact UIA, call 1-585-359-9310, or visit www.uiausa.com or www.uiausa.org.

  • The Federal Trade Commission

  • The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


Produced in cooperation with
the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
October 2003



Invention Promotion
And Marketing Scams


Every year in the United States many individuals who believe they have an idea for a great new product pay too much money for invention related products and services that are not a good value for them. While not all such products or services are "fraudulent", some may be. Be careful, and learn to protect yourself against those who would take advantage of you.

Unfortunately, there are people and companies out there who take unfair advantage of people who believe that they have inventions. These people and companies, often referred to as invention "promoters" or "marketers", promise a variety of services supposedly to help people make money from their ideas, secure a licensing deal with industry, get an invention manufactured and distributed, or secure patent protection. In a great number of cases, many thousands of dollars are charged for services that provide no meaningful return to the consumer. So many people have lost money to these unscrupulous individuals and businesses that laws at both the state and federal level have been passed to try and protect consumers.

Your Federal Rights
When Dealing With Invention Promoters

Because so many inventors were taken advantage of there are now laws that give consumers certain rights when dealing with "invention promoters". At the federal level there is the American Inventor's Protection Act which requires all invention promoters to disclose the following information to a customer in writing, prior to entering into a contract for invention promotion services:

1. the total number of inventions evaluated by the invention promoter for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative evaluations;

2. the total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promoter in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter;

3. the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter;

4. the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter; and

5. the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years.

A customer who enters into a contract with an invention promoter and is injured because the above disclosures were not made, or the invention promoter made other materially false or fraudulent representations or omissions, can sue the invention promoter for the customer's damages, reasonable costs, and attorney fees.

If the false representations or omissions were made willfully, and with the intent to deceive the customer, the court may also triple the damages against the invention promoter. Statutory damages may also be elected by the customer in an amount up to $5000.

While these remedies are significant, inventors still need to be aware that the federal law has a specific definition of who is an "invention promoter" subject to the law, and only protects "individuals" who contract with invention promoters for "invention promotion services".

Protection Under State Law

In addition to the protections offered by federal law under the American Inventor's Protection Act, a large number of states have enacted laws to combat fraudulent invention promotion services.

For example, the State of California has an extensive set of laws dealing with invention development services contracts. Under California law invention developers must be bonded, comply with a number of disclosure requirements to customers, treat information received by customers as confidential, and provide quarterly written reports to customers of the services being provided starting six months after a contract is entered into.

Under California law, customers also have a right to cancel any invention development service contract within seven days of entering into it and receive all of their money back. Violations of the invention development services law in California gives injured persons the right to sue for the greater of $3000 or three times their actual damages, and also seek attorney fees. Willful violators of the law are also subject to criminal prosecution.


The laws intended to protect consumers from fraudulent promotion schemes only go so far, and don't provide protection against overpriced services or products that, while perhaps not fraudulent, don't really help an inventor achieve the ultimate goal of success.

There is nothing wrong with being new to product development, or seeking out the help and services of others. Indeed, an inventor will almost always need to find, and work with, other people and businesses in order to successfully develop their idea into a successful commercial product. However, inventor's need to be very careful when it comes to using the services of companies who promise to help protect and promote their ideas to industry, and/or get them a licensing deal. While such companies may actually stay within the bounds of the law, and actually do the things they commit in writing to do, the services or products provided may end up being an unwise, and very costly, mistake by inventors that gets them nowhere in the end.

Once you know and understand what is really involved in being able to bring a product to market, you will understand that in many cases the services and products offered by invention promotion or assistance companies are often not a good value. In all cases, it is strongly recommended that before you enter into any arrangement concerning your idea with another person or business, especially with someone that is promising to help you protect and promote your invention, speak directly with an independent qualified registered U.S. patent attorney. Doing so could save you from making a very expensive mistake.

If you believe that you have made a mistake entering into any contract, or paying money, to a person or business for invention development, marketing, promoting, or licensing services you should consult with a qualified registered patent attorney to see what remedies you may have available under federal and state law. Time may be of the essence so do not delay.

2003 Federal Trade Commission
Invention Promotion Alert

Invention Promotion Firms

Think you have a great idea for a new product or service? You're not alone. Every year, tens of thousands of people try to develop their ideas and commercially market them.

Some people try to sell their idea or invention to a manufacturer that would market it and pay royalties. But finding a company to do that can be difficult. As an alternative, others use the services of an invention promotion firm. Indeed, some inventors pay thousands of dollars to firms that promise to evaluate, develop, patent, and market inventions…and then do little or nothing for their fees.

Unscrupulous promoters take advantage of an inventor's enthusiasm for a new product or service. They not only urge inventors to patent their ideas or invention, but they also make false and exaggerated claims about the market potential of the invention. The facts are:

1. few inventions ever make it to the marketplace; and

2. although a patent can provide valuable protection for a successful invention, getting a patent doesn't necessarily increase the chances of commercial success.

There's great satisfaction in developing a new product or service and in getting a patent. But when it comes to determining market potential, inventors should proceed with caution as they try to avoid falling for the sweet-sounding promises of a fraudulent promotion firm.

Using Invention Promotion Firms

Advertisements for invention promotion firms are on television, radio and the Internet, and in newspapers and magazines. These ads target independent inventors with offers of free information on how to patent and market their inventions. Often, however, the only information you get is about the promoter.

If you respond to the ads — which may urge you to call a toll-free number — you may hear back from a salesperson who will ask for a sketch of the invention and information about you and your idea. As an inducement, a firm may offer to do a free preliminary review of your invention.

Some invention promotion firms may claim to know or have special access to manufacturers who are likely to be interested in licensing your invention. In addition, some firms may claim to represent manufacturers on the look-out for new product ideas. Ask for proof, such as contacts at manufacturers, before you sign a contract with any invention promotion firm that claims special relationships with manufacturers. If the promoter provides only one or two names, be careful: The contacts may be "shills" — people hired to give favorable testimonials.

After giving your invention a preliminary review, a firm might tell you it needs to do a market evaluation of your idea — for a fee that can be several hundred dollars. Many questionable firms don't do any genuine research or market evaluations. Sometimes the "research" is bogus, and the "positive" reports are mass-produced in an effort to sell clients on additional invention promotion and marketing services. Fraudulent invention promotion firms don't offer an honest appraisal of the merit, technical feasibility, or market potential of an invention.

Some invention promotion firms also may offer a contract in which they agree to help you market and license your invention to manufacturers. Unscrupulous promoters may require you to pay a fee of several thousand dollars in advance, or to agree to make credit payments instead. Reputable licensing agents usually don't rely on large advance fees. Rather, they depend on royalties from the successful licensing of client inventions. How can they make money when so few inventions achieve commercial success? They're choosy about which ideas or inventions they pursue. If a firm is enthusiastic about the market potential of your idea — but wants to charge you a large fee in advance — take your business elsewhere.

Inventor Protections

If you're interested in working with an invention promotion firm, here's information that can help you avoid making a costly mistake. The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 gives you certain rights when dealing with invention promoters. Before an invention promoter can enter into a contract with you, it must disclose the following information about its business practices during the past five years:

1.How many inventions it has evaluated,

2.how many of those inventions got positive or negative evaluations,

3.its total number of customers,

4.how many of those customers received a net profit from the promoter's services, and

5.how many of those customers have licensed their inventions due to the promoter's service

This information can help you determined how selective the promoter has been in deciding which inventions it promotes and how successful the promoter has been.

Many fraudulent invention promotion firms offer inventors two services in a two-step process: one involves a research report or market evaluation of your idea that can cost you hundreds of dollars. The other involves patenting or marketing and licensing services, which can cost you several thousand dollars. Early in your discussion with a promotion firm, ask for the total cost of its services, from the "research" about your invention through the marketing and licensing. Walk away if the salesperson hesitates to answer.

Many fraudulent companies offer to provide invention assistance or marketing services in exchange for advance fees that can range from $5,000 to $10,000. Some even offer to finance the full amount to entice inventors into making a quick decision. Reputable licensing agents rarely rely on large up-front fees.

Unscrupulous invention promotion firms tell all inventors that their ideas are among the relative few that have market potential. The truth is that most ideas don't make any money.

Check References

Ask the promoter to give you the names of many previous purchasers so that you can pick and choose who to call for references. Again, beware of shills.

Fraudulent invention promotion firms may promise to register your idea with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) Disclosure Document Program. Although many scam artists charge high fees to do this, you can do it for $10 by filing your document with the USPTO directly. The disclosure is accepted as evidence of the date of conception of the invention, but it doesn't offer patent protection.

Unscrupulous firms often promise that they will exhibit your idea at trade shows, but don't actually go to these trade shows, much less market your idea effectively. Check with previous clients and trade show sponsors about whether their ideas were exhibited.

Many unscrupulous firms agree in their contracts to identify manufacturers by coding your idea with the U.S. Bureau of Standard Industrial Code (SIC). Lists of manufacturers that come from classifying your idea with the SIC usually are of limited value.

Tips Before Moving Forward

Contracting for the services of an invention promotion firm is no different from making many other major purchases. Apply some common sense.

Question claims and assurances that your invention will make money. No one can guarantee your invention's success.

Investigate the company before you make any commitment. Call the USPTO at 1-866-767-3848, and the Better Business Bureau, the consumer protection agency, and the Attorney General in your state or city, and in the state or city where the company is headquartered. Under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, invention promoters must give you the names and addresses of all invention promotion companies they have been affiliated with over the past 10 years. Use this information to determine whether the company you're considering doing business with has been subject to complaints or legal action.

If a promoter causes you financial injury by failing to make the required disclosures, by making any false or fraudulent statements or representations, or by omitting any fact, you have the right to sue the promoter and recover the amount of your injury plus costs and attorneys' fees.

In addition, while the USPTO has no civil authority to bring law enforcement actions against invention promoters, it will accept your complaint and post it online if you complete the form, Complaint Regarding Invention Promoter. The USPTO also will forward your complaint to the promoter, and publish its response online.

Make sure your contract contains all the terms you agreed to — verbal and written — before you sign. Often the contract says one thing but the salesperson says something quite different. If possible, ask an attorney to review the agreement. Remember that once a dishonest company has your money, you may never get it back. You may have to sue the company under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, which permits a customer to recover for injuries, costs, and legal fees if a promoter has failed to make disclosures, made any false or fraudulent statement or representation, or omitted any material fact, to a customer. You have the burden to show that the law has been violated.

For More Information


1. U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

The USPTO offers information about patents and trademarks. Write: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; call toll-free at 1-800-PTO-9199; or visit www.uspto.gov. For more information about the Disclosure Document Program, Provisional Applications or Non-provisional Applications call 1-800-PTO-9199. In addition, every state has a Patent and Trademark Depository Library that maintains collections of current and previously-issued patents and Patent and Trademark reference materials.To order a copy of the American Inventors Protection Act, call 1-800-PTO-9199, or visit www.uspto.gov.

2.National Congress Of Inventor Organizations

NCIO offers free articles, information, resources, and an online magazine America's Inventor Online. To contact NCIO, call toll-free 1-323-878-6952, or visit www.inventionconvention.com/ncio.

3.United Inventors Association

UIA offers free articles, information, resources, referrals to local support groups for inventors, and online copies of its newsletter. To contact UIA, call 1-585-359-9310, or visit www.uiausa.com or www.uiausa.org.

4.The Federal Trade Commission

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


Produced in cooperation with
the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
October 2003