Business Blog

Scammers target businesses with fake emails

A favorite trick for rip-off artists is to pretend to represent a trustworthy and respected organization. Today — and we mean that literally — we’re hearing from businesses that have received email exploiting the good name of the Federal Trade Commission.  We don’t want you to lose money or valuable information to a scam artist sending a phony message claiming you’re a target of the FTC.

Ready, willing, and label

Two of a kind can be a good thing in a card game, but it’s not so great when you’re filing energy data with government agencies.  For manufacturers weary of sending the same information to both the FTC and the Department of Energy, here’s some good news.  Now, energy data filers can do some one-stop shopping by submitting their required reports to a single place:  the Department of Energy’s new online database, known as the Compliance Certification Management System (CCMS).  The FTC has announced this streamlined reporting proce

Background screening reports and the FCRA: Just saying you're not a consumer reporting agency isn't enough

You know that phrase “If it quacks like a duck. . . “?  It’s applicable in the Fair Credit Reporting Act context, too.  If a company meets the legal definition of a “consumer reporting agency,” it’s a consumer reporting agency.  Including a disclaimer that says, in effect, “But we’re not a CRA!” won’t change that.  That’s one important takeaway tip from the FTC’s settlement with Filiquarian Publishing, the agency’s first FCRA case involving mobile apps.

Bamboo snafu

Bamboo:  It’s not just for tiki huts anymore.  Consumers are seeing more items, especially clothing and textiles, labeled or advertised as “bamboo.”  But according to FTC lawsuits, Amazon.com, Leon Max, Macy’s, and Sears claimed that products were made of bamboo when they were really made of rayon.  In addition, some bamboo wannabes were promoted as environmentally friendly.  But manufacturing rayon — even when it’s made from bamboo — is far from a “green” process.

FTC's settlement with Google: In brief

Not too long ago, talking on the phone, listening to music, and playing games required three clunky pieces of equipment.  Manage that wirelessly?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  But now we can do all that — and more — with a device smaller than a chocolate bar.  That took phenomenal feats of technology.  But it also took some ground rules to make sure companies had incentives to innovate and consumers could be assured what they bought would work glitch-free with other products.  Benefiting consumers by encouraging that kind of innovation is what the F

Cooling-Off heats up

Say “Cooling-Off Rule” and most people (OK, most people over a certain age) think of the classic door-to-door salesman — although the scope of the Rule is broader than that.  After listening to comments about the future of the Cooling-Off Rule, the FTC has decided to keep it in place, but is asking for your feedback about one important proposed change.

FTC's revised COPPA Rule: Five need-to-know changes for your business

It’s not often we describe something as a drop-what-you’re-doing development.  But if you’ve been following proposed changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, this may qualify.  After national workshops, Federal Register Notices, and hundreds of comments from the public, the FTC just issued final changes to the COPPA Rule.

Going for broke(r)

Until recently, most consumers — and a whole lot of businesses — were unfamiliar with the operations of the data broker industry.  Data brokers collect personal information from a variety of public and non-public sources and resell it to other companies.  No doubt, there are economic benefits to the flow of certain kinds of information.  But legislators, law enforcers, and others have raised concerns about the privacy implications of what goes on behind the scenes.

Masquer-aid?

Usually we lay out the facts of a case and then summarize what we see as the take-away tips for business.  But this time we’re switching things up.  Here are the two bottom-line messages from the FTC’s ongoing action against The Cuban Exchange:  It’s a Bad Idea to use robocalls to impersonate familiar groups in an effort to trick people into turning over their bank account info and other sensitive data.  And it’s a Really Bad Idea when the group you impersonate is the Federal Trade Commission.

New URL in town

Business.ftc.gov is happy to welcome a sibling:  consumer.ftc.gov — the new URL for consumer resources from the FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency.

Why should the FTC’s consumer site matter to your business?  It’s become a catchphrase, but it’s true: An educated consumer really is your best customer.  When prospective buyers are empowered with information, satisfaction soars.  And there’s another reason:  You put in a long day on the job, but in your down time, you’re a consumer, too.

Survey says: What FTC follow-up report on kids' apps means for your business

Next time you’re in a long line at the grocery store, watch how parents distract a kid who's feeling cranky.  They used to jangle keys or offer a favorite toy.  But now a lot of Moms and Dads hand them a smartphone with an app designed for children.  As the kids' app market continues to grow, FTC staff issued a report detailing survey results showing that neither app stores nor app developers were giving parents the information they need to figure out what data is being collected from their kids, how it’s shared, and who has access to it.  The report recommended that members of the app ind

Proposed changes to the Used Car Rule: What you auto know

The wheels are turning on proposed updates to the FTC’s Used Car Rule.  Formally known as the Used Motor Vehicle Trade Regulation Rule (although only its Mother calls it that), the Rule has been in effect since 1985.  It requires car dealers to display a window sticker, called a Buyers Guide, on used cars they offer for sale.  The Buyers Guide gives people information about the car — for example, whether it’s being sold “as is” or with a warranty, what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty, and the syst

Sporting goods companies: Guard against deception

Some sports fans spend Saturdays on the field.  For the rest of us, raising a Big Foam Finger is exertion enough.  But we’ve all read stories about the dangers that head injuries pose to participants in contact sports.  That’s why the FTC is continuing to raise concerns about possibly unsubstantiated claims for products advertised to reduce the risk of sports concussions.

The last resort

When it comes to making hotel reservations, some consumers aren’t feeling very hospitable about drip pricing — the practice of advertising only part of the price and then revealing other charges later as the customer goes through the buying process.  That’s why FTC staff sent out 22 warning letters to companies raising concerns about the practice.

The Big Picture

Are you and your clients taking in The Big Picture?  That’s what the FTC is calling its December 6, 2012, workshop on comprehensive online data collection.  The event will gather consumer groups, academics, industry representatives, privacy professionals, and others to look at the current state of comprehensive data collection, its risks and potential benefits, and where it could be going in the future.

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