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Online Seller to Pay $60,000 Penalty for Violating the Contact Lens Rule

Cosmetic contacts allegedly sold to consumers without required prescriptions or verification

A California-based online seller of non-corrective, decorative contact lenses will pay a $60,000 penalty and be banned from all contact lens sales, under an order settling Federal Trade Commission allegations that he has violated the Contact Lens Rule since at least 2014.

Under the Contact Lens Rule, sellers may provide contact lenses to consumers only after either obtaining a copy of a valid prescription for the consumer or, alternatively, verifying the consumer’s prescription with the prescriber. Sellers may not dispense lenses using an expired prescription, and may only substitute lenses under certain conditions, as specified in the Rule. The Rule applies to both corrective lenses and non-corrective, decorative lenses.

The FTC’s complaint, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf, charges Lawrence L. Duskin with providing contact lenses to consumers without obtaining the required prescription, failing to verify the prescription information, and failing to keep the records required by the Rule.

What the FTC Did to Protect Consumers

According to the Commission’s complaint, Duskin marketed and sold decorative contact lenses online through HollywoodColorContacts.com, WorldColorContacts.com, and TopModelContacts.com. The FTC alleges that since at least January 2014, he provided contact lenses to consumers without obtaining their contact lens prescriptions or verifying the prescription information with consumers’ prescribers, in violation of the Rule.

In addition, the FTC alleges that Duskin, in many instances, failed to maintain records of consumers’ contact lens prescriptions, requests to prescribers for verification of prescription information, and communications from prescribers, as the Rule requires. Further, the FTC alleges Duskin violated the FTC Act, as the conduct constituted unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.

What the Settlement Means

The proposed court order settling the FTC’s complaint permanently bans Duskin from advertising, marketing, promoting, dispensing, or selling contact lenses, as well as assisting anyone else in doing so. It also imposes a financial judgment of $575,000 against Duskin, the largest civil penalty to date in a matter alleging violations of the Contact Lens Rule.

Upon payment of $60,000, the remainder of the $575,000 will be suspended. If Duskin is later found to have misrepresented his financial condition to the Commission, the full amount will immediately become due. The order also contains standard reporting, monitoring, and record-keeping provisions to ensure Duskin complies with terms of the order.

The Commission vote to refer the complaint and proposed consent order to the Department of Justice for filing was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by the Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf. The order settles the FTC’s charges against Lawrence L. Duskin, individually and doing business as HollywoodColorContacts.com, WorldColorContacts.com, and TopModelContacts.com.

The FTC has information to help contact lens consumers understand their rights under federal law. See: Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final injunctions/orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.