Business Blog

Data security & COPPA: RockYou like a hurricane

Are there hotter topics these days than data security and kids’ privacy?  An FTC law enforcement settlement with the social networking site RockYou ticks both of those topical boxes and challenges a course of conduct the FTC says made it easier for hackers to access the personal information of 32 million users.  The complaint also alleges the company collected info from kids in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

FTC releases Privacy Report

In a world of smart phones and smart grids, the smart money is on companies that play it smart with consumers’ information.  Consistent with its 40 years’ experience protecting consumer privacy, the FTC’s just-released Report — Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change:  Recommendations for Businesses and Policymakers — underscores that message and outlines a new privacy framework designed for the

Network news

Through a series of recent law enforcement actions, the FTC has articulated what should be apparent:  that truth-in-advertising principles apply to affiliate marketers and to the companies that use them to promote their products.  A settlement announced today by the FTC makes a similarly obvious point: The law applies to affiliate marketing networks, too.

Buyers burned by BurnLounge

If you or your clients work in the multi-level marketing (MLM) arena, a decision by a federal judge in the FTC's lawsuit against BurnLounge, Inc., merits your attention. The defendants — the company, the CEO, and top salesmen — used claims of hefty profits to sell opportunities to run online digital music stores.  According to the FTC, the outfit masqueraded as a legitimate MLM program, but really was an illegal pyramid scheme.

FTC to auto dealers: Back up your ad claims

If you have clients in the auto industry, you’ve seen the ads:  “We’ll pay off your trade no matter what you owe . . . even if you’re upside down.” It’s an attractive claim to people struggling with their finances. But law enforcement settlements announced by the FTC with five dealers from around the country demonstrate the importance of giving people the straight story when making promises about trade-ins where negative equity is involved.

Jurisdiction fiction?

South Dakota can be lovely this time of year, but consumers struggling financially shouldn’t have to travel there to respond to actions filed against them in a tribal court that doesn’t have jurisdiction over their case. That’s what the FTC has alleged in its amended complaint against Payday Financial, LLC, a company that pitches its short-term, high-fee loans in TV ads and online.

I can see clearly now

It’s helpful when advertisers can get a window into the FTC’s thinking about certain ad claims — and five recent settlements with companies that sell replacement windows offer just that.

According to the FTC, the businesses made exaggerated and unsupported representations about the energy efficiency of their windows, and about how much money people could save on their heating and cooling bills by having them installed. What did the ads say? Things like:

Fast forward

Dot Com Disclosures — the FTC’s staff publication about online advertising — was published 12 years ago. Of course, the same basic consumer protection principles apply online, in mobile marketing, and in other media, but a lot has happened since then.  In light of technological changes, is it time for revised guidance about making disclosures required by FTC law?

FTC staff issues report on mobile apps for kids

For some, a discussion of childhood and technology brings back fond memories of Easy Bake Ovens and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. But like their parents, these kids today (Didn’t we swear we’d never use the phrase "these kids today"?) are embracing the opportunities presented by smartphones, tablets, and the burgeoning app market. But what about the privacy considerations when children and teens use apps?

Card tricks?

In the market for a $430 case of shower caps or some “dolphin shaped craft embellishments”? Have they got a deal for you! But for people who thought they were paying $99 up front and $19 a month for a credit card, all they got was access to the defendants’ online store, which sold bulk quantities of off-brand, overpriced items.

Faking news

Six online marketers have settled FTC charges stemming from their use of fake news websites to market acai berry supplements and other weight loss products. If you’re an affiliate marketer or you’re thinking about building an affiliate program into your business plan, the cases merit your attention.

Watch what you're doing with time-barred debts

Of course, people are responsible for their debts.  However, at a certain point, how much time has passed becomes an affirmative defense under state law and creditors can’t prevail in court.  But what happens if a payment is made on a time-barred debt?  A consumer can really get clocked — because in many states the debt can be revived if a person makes a payment or says in writing that they intend to.  The FTC has announced a $2.5 million settlement with Asset Acceptance, LLC, for allegedly breaking the law in how it tried to collect

All that glitters

The BCP Business Center is here to help you comply with applicable laws.  But we’re also committed to protecting business owners from deception.  That’s why it’s important you have accurate information if you’re thinking about investing in precious metals.  An ongoing FTC law enforcement action suggests that potential investors should step on the brakes if salespeople tout big money and low risks.

Paper, Plastic . . . or Mobile?

How consumers pay for things is changing.  Pretty soon exasperated parents may start reminding kids that “mobile payments don’t grow on trees.” And if there’s a remake of “Jerry McGuire,” the sports agent may yell to his client “Show me the mobile payment!”

Looking forward to a long and productive relationship

Last Friday, the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau signed a memorandum of understanding outlining how the agencies will work together.  The CFPB — born out of the recent financial system overhaul — and the FTC now share responsibility for protecting consumers in the non-bank financial sector.

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