Business Blog

Building your VOCabulary

The FTC just accepted final settlements with two of the largest paint manufacturers in the country — Sherwin-Williams and PPG Architectural Finishes.  The complaints charged that the companies made deceptive “zero VOC” claims for their Dutch Boy Refresh and Pure Performance brands.  But along with the settlements, the FTC issued an Enforcement Policy Statement that's a must-read if you're thinking about making similar claims and want to comply with

It's National Consumer Protection Week

This is National Consumer Protection Week, and it’s the biggest and best NCPW in 15 years.  Thanks to 64 federal, state and local agencies and nonprofits that are putting the spotlight on the critical consumer protection work they do year-round, consumers have easy access to a tremendous variety of timely, useful information about recognizing and reporting frauds and scams, managing credit and debt, using technology, and staying healthy and safe.

Not an honor to be nominated

‘Tis the season for the entertainment industry to hand out statuettes for notable achievement.  It’s also the time of year when the FTC singles out industries "nominated" by consumers for actions of a less admirable nature.  According to the just-released Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, the FTC received more than 2 million complaints from consumers in 2012 — the most ever.  What industries show up on the one Top 10 list that companies want to avoid?

Batten down the patches: Six points to take from the FTC settlement with HTC

By now, you’ve read about the FTC’s settlement with HTC — the agency’s first law enforcement action against a mobile device manufacturer.  According to the complaint, when HTC customized the operating systems used on many of its products, it introduced security vulnerabilities that put users’ sensitive information at risk.  In addition to requiring implementation of a comprehensive security program, the

Device Squad: The story behind the FTC's first case against a mobile device maker

HTC America is a leading manufacturer of smartphones and tablets using the Android, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone operating systems.  The company’s motto is “quietly brilliant.”  But based on an FTC lawsuit challenging the company's security practices, consumers might be surprised to find out their devices have also been “quietly vulnerable.”  To settle the case — the FTC’s first against a device manufacturer — HTC has agreed to a far-reaching settlement that imposes a first-of-its-kind remedy:  patching vulnerabilities on millions

Shell game?

“Payment processing” used to involve standing in the checkout line and handing the cashier your pennies.  (Remember checkout lines?  Remember cashiers?  Remember pennies?)  In a lawsuit filed in federal court, the FTC alleges that Ideal Financial Solutions and more than a dozen individual and corporate defendants used an “intricate web of concealment” to game the payment processing system in a way that resulted in more than $25 million in unauthorized credit card charges and bank account debits.

Gray matters

When even the #1 movie at the box office is called “Identity Thief,” it’s a topic at the top of everyone’s list.  If you’re in the financial or healthcare sector — or just want to stay up on an emerging issue — find out more about an FTC initiative focused on how identity theft affects a particular segment of your community.

Here Comes Money Boo Boo

No, not the cherubic child star on reality TV.  We’re talking about the serious repercussions of American Tax Relief's misleading claims about substantially reducing what consumers owed in taxes — and major mistakes some businesses make when it comes to the financial consequences of deception.  A look at the settlement offers insights into the breadth of remedies available for violations of the FTC Act and related rules.

5 top-level takeaways from the FTC staff report on mobile privacy disclosures

To Rat Pack types, "Just in Time" was a swingin' tune Dean Martin sang in the old musical "Bells Are Ringing."  It's still relevant to ringing bells, but now it's in the context of smartphones, tablets — and one of several suggestions the FTC is making to mobile platforms, app developers, ad networks, and others about how and when to disclose key privacy-related information to consumers.  Are you plugged in to what this could mean for your business?

12 tips toward kick-app mobile security

Before you start marketing your app, let’s go through the TO DO list.

Does it deliver on what you say it can do?  Check.
Have you thought through your marketing strategy?  Check.
Does it look like app stores might be interested?  Check.
Ready?  Not so fast.  There’s an indispensible step you may be overlooking.  But there’s good news:  The FTC has 12 tips to make that task easier.

FTC Path case helps app developers stay on the right, er, path

In the few years it’s been up and running, Path has billed itself as a different kind of social network.  According to a description of its "Values," "Path should be private by default.  Forever.  You should always be in control of your information and experience."  It’s a lovely sentiment.  Except that according to an FTC law enforcement action, it wasn’t private by default.  It wasn’t private forever.  Users weren’t in control of their information and experience.  And let’s not forget the alleged violation of the Children’s Online Pr

Room for improve-mint

The Hobby Protection Act is something of a misnomer.  Most hobbies don’t need much by way of protection.  But if you or your clients are involved in the sale of coins or certain collectibles, it’s a law you need to know about.  The FTC’s settlement with the National Collector’s Mint and Avram C. Freedberg alleges violations of the Hobby Protection Act — and also raises interesting issues about how the company’s automated ordering system compounded other deceptive practices challenged in the case.

Bank data security (but not that kind of bank)

You spend a good portion of your time trying to protect sensitive information on your network from high-tech hijackers.  That’s important, of course.  But don’t let it take your eye off the risks posed by good old-fashioned — make that bad old-fashioned — theft.  That’s the message businesses can take from the FTC’s settlement with cord blood bank, Cbr Systems, Inc.

Call a time-out before investing in "coaching"

Coaching isn’t just about clipboards, lanyards, and saying “Listen up” a lot.  What do winning coaches bring to a team? Leadership, personal attention, and a proven system for success.  The people who spent more than $100 million on “coaching” services sold by Ivy Capital and related companies thought that's what they were buying.  But according to an FTC lawsuit filed against dozens of defendants — and a settlement with all but five of them — that’s not what Ivy Capital delivered.

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