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Four U.S. Senators called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate third-party online marketing companies that they say often use deceptive practices to recruit on behalf of for-profit colleges.

The companies, known as "lead generators," "have become a key part of the aggressive recruiting strategy for many for- profit colleges," the senators wrote in a letter today to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

They said while the companies promise to connect students with admissions offices of well-known non-profit schools, the companies instead send student information to for-profit colleges.

The four senators, all Democrats, are Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer of California.