Business Blog

Business buyer beware

As a small business person, you’re looking for ways to keep your credit and debit card processing costs down.  So when someone calls claiming to be associated with your current card processor, Visa or MasterCard, or your bank and promises big savings, of course you’d be all ears.  But according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, the deceptive practices of one processing outfit have given new meaning to the word “swipe.”

New COPPA FAQs: You asked, we answered

If you’re the COPPA cop for your company or clients, you know that Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions (A Guide For Business And Parents And Small Entity Compliance Guide) – close friends call ‘em The FAQs – are an indispensable resource.  When FTC staff revised the FAQs a few months ago to reflect changes to COPPA that took effect July 1, 2013, we promised to update them as questions arose.  And we’re making good on that promise.

It'll all come out in the wash

Maybe you can’t tell from looking at us, but the FTC is very label-conscious.  No, not in that red carpet “Who are you wearing?” way.  We’re more concerned that apparel and other products covered by the Care Labeling Rule give consumers accurate cleaning instructions.  Fashionistas, take note because the FTC just announced a one-day roundtable on October 1, 2013, to talk over proposed changes to the Rule.

Magistrate Judge's finding: Payday lenders covered by FTC Act even if affiliated with American Indian Tribes

In an FTC action challenging allegedly illegal business practices by a payday loan operation affiliated with American Indian Tribes, a United States Magistrate Judge just issued a report and recommendation on the scope of the FTC Act.  Attorneys will want to give the order a careful read, but here’s the need-to-know nugget:  Over the defendants’ vigorous opposition, the Magistrate Judge concluded that the FTC Act “gives the FTC the authority to bring suit against Indian Tribes, arms of Indian Tribes, and employees and contractors of arms of

We've got your number

Most people are familiar with labels in clothing and other textile products that name the fabric and explain how to clean it.  But look a little closer and you may spot the prefix RN followed by a series of digits.  If you’re in the textile business, those are important numbers to know.

Itchy and Scratchy

Two things that bug us:  1) head lice, bed bugs, and other creepy crawlies that score off the charts on the eeww-ometer; and 2) companies that make deceptive claims that their products can treat and prevent infestations.  Settlements the FTC just announced with the marketers of the BEST Yet! line of cedar oil-based products reminds companies of the importance of backing up claims with sound science.

The truth is out there

Earlier this week was the 66th anniversary of the so-called Roswell UFO incident.  No, Mulder and Scully aren't on temporary assignment to the FTC and we don’t have any “now it can be told” government news on the subject.  But we can offer insights into what happening on MARS:  the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule.  As X Files fans would say, "The truth is out there," but one place it appears to be lacking is in promotions making overhyped promises to homeowners in financial trouble.

Saluting Military Consumer Protection Day

Members of the military face unique consumer protection challenges.  For example, when the brakes go or the basement floods, it’s not easy to find trustworthy local businesses if you’re new in town.  And deployments, TDYs, and relocations can make it tougher to spot the early signs of identity theft.  So what can your business do to make things easier for military families?

When all is said and dun: Record-setting penalty for debt collection violations

"You’ve reached the FTC.  Sorry we’re not able to take your call right now.  But if you’re Expert Global Solutions — the biggest debt collection operation in the world — please pay a $3.2 million civil penalty, the largest ever from a third-party debt collector, and start honoring the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Oh, and at the sound of the tone, please don’t leave a voicemail illegally disclosing that a person owes money."  BEEP.

New suite of resources can streamline COPPA compliance

Who should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the collection of personal information online from kids under 13?  That’s easy:  Parents.  To keep up with technology, the FTC revised the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule last year.  As a result, some companies that may not have given COPPA much thought in the past are covered as of today — the July 1st effective date of the revised Rule.  To streamline your responsibilities, the FTC has a suite of compliance tools designed with business in mind.

FTC's record-setting Do Not Call settlement: 4 tips for business and one candid suggestion

Yesterday’s 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry was a good time to reflect on a decade of progress.  But to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson (or Patrick Henry, Irish statesman John Philpot Curran, or whoever else said it), eternal vigilance is the price of an uninterrupted dinner hour.  A record-setting $7.5 million settlement with a national mortgage broker demonstrates the FTC’s commitment to the fight against

10 years of National Do Not Call: Looking back and looking ahead

To etiquette purists, the 10th anniversary dictates gifts of metal.  So to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry, the FTC presents this iron-clad guarantee:  You can count on us to continue to take action against companies that violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, as today’s $7.5 million civil penalty — the largest ever collected in an FTC Do Not Call case — demonstrates.

FTC staff to search engines: Differentiate ads from natural results

When users type something into a search engine and hit enter, what shows up on the screen next?  Is it the natural result of their search or is it advertising?  If they get natural results and ads, is it clear to consumers which is which?  Following up on efforts to update guidance to digital advertisers, including revisions to .com Disclosures and the

Telemarketing violations? Court ruling suggests distance, not assistance

The Telemarketing Sales Rule outlaws a variety of deceptive practices.  But liability isn’t limited just to the companies that place the calls or the marketers that hire them.  It’s also illegal to “provide substantial assistance or support” to a seller or telemarketer when you know or consciously avoid knowing they’re violating the Rule.  A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit unpacks that portion of the

Internet of Things: Same topic, new date

If you have a really smart smart device, it’s probably already told you.  But here’s the news anyway:  The new date for the FTC’s Internet of Things workshop is November 19, 2013.  The workshop will cover the consumer protection implications now that everyday devices have started to communicate with us and with each other.  To quote SNL’s Linda Richman, “Tawk amongst ya-selves” about how to weigh the privacy and security risks against pot

Last resort

Three FTC cases, 83 civil actions brought by 28 states, more than 184 defendants facing criminal charges in cases filed by federal and local prosecutors, and 25 actions brought by agencies in 10 other countries.  If you’re unclear on whether law enforcers are presenting a united front against travel-related fraud, then we have some oceanfront property to sell you.

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