When it comes to cars, sometimes good things come in twos: double wishbone suspension, dual overhead cams, twin torsion bars, and classic 2 + 2 muscle cars. What’s not on that list? Two lawsuits charging two auto dealers with deceptive advertising in violation of two FTC orders.
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.
“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.
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.
As the FTC celebrates its Centennial, we are thankful for all of the very talented folks who chose to spend part or all of their career with us protecting consumers and promoting competition. You can visit FTC Moments to read, hear, or watch as present and former FTC’ers share special moments from their time with the agency. And if you only have a moment, here are our highlights.
Looking for PlayStation tips and tricks? We can’t tell you how ISA Vekta Special Forces Team Alpha can navigate the Akmir Snowdrift in Killzone 3. But for businesses – including ad agencies and PR firms – interested in keeping their practices out of the Pyrrhus Crater, the FTC’s proposed settlements with Sony Computer Entertainment America and ad agency Deutsch LA offer practical guidance.
According to the ads, “It’s a problem as old as gaming itself. Stay home and just keep playing, or get to work on time so your coffee breath boss doesn’t ride you like a rented scooter.” For gamers who face that dilemma, Sony Computer Entertainment America marketed its PlayStation Vita as the solution. But according to a settlement announced by the FTC, Sony didn’t deliver on its promises.
If you manufacture, import or sell garments containing fur, November 19th should be circled on your calendar. That’s because today’s the day amendments to the FTC’s Fur Rule take effect. Looking for help with compliance? The FTC has published How to Comply with the Fur Products Labeling Act, updated guidance on keeping your practices within the law.
We’ve brought law enforcement actions – dozens of ‘em. We’ve held workshops, issued reports, and sent warning letters. If it takes sky writing, tap dancing, and a float in a Thanksgiving Day parade, we’ll do that, too. But here’s what’s not going to happen. The FTC is not giving up until businesses get the message that: 1) Free means free; and 2) Key terms and conditions have to be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
(In observance of the FTC's 100th anniversary, here's the next in our FTC Milestones series.)
People who aren’t into marketing jargon might not know a “credence claim” from a Creedence Clearwater Revival, but experts tell us it’s a representation about a product that consumers aren’t in a position to evaluate for themselves. One example is what websites say about their privacy practices. Because consumers can’t test the accuracy of those claims, they often rely on third-party seals trusted for their expertise and independence.
It’s rare we get Shakespearean on you, but a letter the FTC staff just sent to Verizon Communications reminds us of the quote from Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. . . ” When it comes to the FTC’s now-closed investigation of Verizon, the staff says the fault wasn’t in the stars, but in the default.
If you’ve been following the FTC’s 50+ data security settlements, you know there are some places it’s not wise to leave sensitive information laying around – for example, in a dumpster behind a drugstore, in the trash near a payday loan company, or in an employee’s backpack.
In celebration of the FTC’s 100th anniversary, we’ve been examining the leaves on our family tree. The FTC’s founding is often associated with turn-of-the-century trust busting, but a closer look – including a study of the very first case published in Volume 1 of Federal Trade Commission Decisions – proves that the intertwined roots of consumer protection and competition run deep. That’s one of the themes of the FTC@100 Symposium on Friday, November 7, 2014.
Patent assertion entities have been the subject of much debate in antitrust and intellectual property circles. But there’s one proposition we hope that parties on all sides of the issue can agree on: It’s illegal to falsely threaten patent suits against small businesses or make unfounded claims that other companies have paid for patent licenses.
This is a special week for the Federal Trade Commission. On Thursday evening, November 6, along with the Antitrust Section of the ABA, the FTC will host our 100th Anniversary Dinner, a public event for FTC staff, alumni, friends, and supporters. Information about the event and tickets can be found on the event’s registration page.
Parents want to make the best choices for their babies’ health. But between diaper changes and 2 AM feedings, they aren’t in a position to spend much time surveying the scientific literature for ways to reduce the chance their kid will develop the allergies they suffer from. So when Gerber (also doing business as Nestle Nutrition) advertised Good Start Gentle baby formula as a way to “reduce the risk of developing allergies” – and featured a gold seal on products suggesting FDA approval – it’s understandable that parents would take note.
How’s this for a profile on a dating site? “Enjoys travel, long walks on the beach, fake potential dates that really are subscription solicitations, and illegal negative option programs, in violation of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA).” If that’s your idea of a dream date, have we got a site for you!
A rental car company prominently advertises “unlimited mileage.” You rent from them and everything is going fine until you’ve done a few hours of highway driving. That’s when the company tells you it’s changed its unlimited mileage policy. Since you’ve traveled more than 100 miles, they've restricted it so the car you contracted for won't accelerate over 30.
Paying with plastic is a convenience for consumers, but a cost for companies. So small businesses are always looking for a penny to pinch in what they pay to process credit and debit cards. Enter unscrupulous pitch people who resort to impersonation, erasures, fine print, half-truths, and flat-out lies to get a business owner’s signature on a contract. When you're pricing processing, the FTC has advice on protecting yourself from a B2B bamboozle.