Business Blog

Testing, testing: A review session on COPPA and schools

We often get questions about how the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act applies in the school setting. The COPPA Rule gives parents control over what information “an operator of a Web site or online service” – yes, that includes apps – can collect from their kids under 13. Among other things, COPPA requires entities covered by the law to notify parents and get their approval before they collect, use, or disclose personal information from children.

Time 2 txt about data security basics?

53 and it’s likely to go up. That’s the number of data security law enforcement actions the FTC has settled so far. The facts of each case are different, but distilled down to the basics, they stand for one central proposition: Your company’s data security measures should be reasonable and appropriate in light of the sensitivity and amount of consumer information you have, the size and complexity of your business, and the availability and cost of tools to improve security and reduce vulnerabilities.

The Dish Network case: The latest fed-state call for Do Not Call compliance

57,606,609. That’s the staggering number of illegal telemarketing calls a federal judge in Illinois has ruled that satellite TV company Dish Network is liable for. The Order granting partial summary judgment against Dish is the latest development in an ongoing case filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC and in cooperation with four states – California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio.

A videogame scientifically proven to boost kids’ school performance - and other fairy tales

A chocolate cake that causes weight loss? A recliner that tones your abs while you watch TV? They’re in our pantheon of products we’d buy in a second. Here’s something to add to that list: a videogame scientifically proven to help kids focus, enhance memory, boost attention, and improve behavior and school performance. That’s what Focus Education promised in infomercials and other ads for its ifocus System Jungle Rangers videogame.

Tax ID theft awareness: Tips for tax preparers bear (p)repeating

For most people, January offers a lull after the holidays. But if you’re a tax professional, the busy season just started. Now that figures are flying, the FTC reminds tax preparers, accountants, and others in the industry about the role they can play in fighting back against tax identity theft. Participate in events scheduled for January 26th through 30th – Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week – and consider five timely tips from the FTC.

When silence isn't golden

Silence may be golden, but not for the parents of kids with speech disorders. Illinois-based NourishLife marketed two dietary supplements, Speak and Speak Smooth, advertised as the answer for kids with a broad range of speech disorders, including those associated with autism. But the FTC says the company’s claims were long on talk and short on scientific substantiation.

Business Center 2.0

In late 2010, we were thrilled to tell you about the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Business Center, a new website that gives you tools to understand and comply with the law. We also debuted the Business Center blog which allowed us to engage in conversations with you. In fact, we’ve published more than 1,000 of your comments, so a big thank-you goes out to all of you.

Top 10 blog topics of 2014

Years ago, a TV network repackaged the summer rerun season with the brilliant tagline, “If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!” Going through this year’s Business Blog posts, we spotted the 10 most-read topics of 2014. Others in your industry are up on the latest. Are you?

Listed alphabetically, here's what business people were reading.

Slim down like a lobster? (Yes, you read that right.)

If you've been waiting for a substantive legal discussion that works in a reference to the B-52s’ surreal 1980 hit “Rock Lobster,” today’s your lucky day. The FTC announced a settlement with DERMAdoctor, Inc., and owner Audrey Kunin, M.D., for false and deceptive claims for Photodynamic Therapy anti-aging lotions and a body slimming lotion called Shrinking Beauty, advertised to “simulate a lobster’s ability to shrink its body.” (See? We weren’t kidding.)

Warts and all

On the “Evaluate your options carefully before trying this at home” list, how about adding the do-it-yourself removal of moles, skin tags, and warts, including genital warts. That's one message to take from a just-announced FTC settlement, but the case also offers insights for companies that feature consumer endorsements in their ads or use affiliate marketing programs.

Advertise auto promotions car-fully

“$1 gets you out of your current loan or lease!” According to Trophy Nissan in the Dallas area, consumers could end their loan or lease for a buck – less than the cost of one of those air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror. Trophy also promised to “match your tax refund so you can use it for a down payment!” Those are just two of the claims the FTC challenged as deceptive in a proposed settlement with the dealership.

Spotting the signs of a crampage: Lessons from the FTC’s proposed settlement with T-Mobile

Flashes at a railroad crossing. That chirp from a smoke detector. The “check engine” light on the dashboard. Those are just a few warnings that merit your attention. The FTC’s proposed settlement with T-Mobile – which imposes at least $90 million in financial remedies, including full consumer refunds – highlights another warning that businesses should heed: clear indications that consumers are getting billed without consent.

Message of the HCG Platinum case: Test your mettle before making weight loss claims

It’s called human chorionic gonadotropin and it’s a hormone produced by the human placenta – which explains why marketers call it HCG when advertising it for weight loss. The FTC just settled a second case against a company that pitched homeopathic HCG drops as an easy way to drop the pounds.

FTC Milestones: Weighing in on weight loss cases

“No need to be fat. No need to diet or go through unpleasant exercise.”
“Your thin friends can tell you the right way to fight fat.”

“Men avoided me. I was too fat.”

Sounds like a lot of the bogus diet promotions the FTC has gone to court to shut down.  But there are two things different about this false advertising case.

First, it went to the Supreme Court.  And second, the year was 1931.

A pain in the privacy

From a patient’s perspective, it was one of those “It seemed like a good idea at the time” innovations: a free online portal that lets people view their billing history with a number of different healthcare providers. But according to the FTC, Atlanta-based PaymentsMD, LLC and former CEO Michael C. Hughes signed consumers up for their service and then went on a medical information scavenger hunt without their permission.

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