Business Blog

“High School Skinny” claims are thin on proof

“Get High School Skinny!”  That was one pitch Georgia-based HealthyLife Sciences made for its Healthe Trim line of diet products.  The company’s radio ads, TV commercials, and website promised it all.  Just a couple of capsules in the morning would burn fat, boost metabolism, and suppress the appetite, leading to the fast and easy loss of as much as 19 pounds the first week.  But according to a proposed FTC settlement, the real result was the fast and easy loss of b

Pass It On

There's an abundant natural resource that’s underused in the U.S. – and unleashing its power could make a major contribution to economic independence.

It’s the expertise and experience of America’s older consumers.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Just as Helen of Troy has gone down in history as The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships, a seriously flawed study purporting to show that green coffee bean extract is scientifically proven to cause weight loss may be remembered as The Fake that Launched a Thousand Slips.  An FTC settlement with Applied Food Sciences, Inc. – whose ingredient has been promoted everywhere from diet pill ads to The Dr.

4 tips businesses can take from the FTC’s $19+ million Google settlement

The polar bears and penguins sold within kids’ apps offered in the Google Play Store may have been virtual, but the unauthorized charges Moms and Dads got stuck with were all too real.  A proposed FTC settlement will refund at least $19 million to parents whose accounts were charged illegally, according to the complaint, and will implement enforceable changes in how Google handles in-app purchases.  Of course, the order applies just to Google, but the case of

Robocalls, honeypots and DEF CON 22

If it were a 50s scifi movie, we’d call it “Invasion of the Serenity Snatchers” – illegal and annoying robocalls that disturb consumers’ peace and quiet. The battle continues, of course, but we’re happy to announce the winners of the FTC’s “Zapping Rachel” contest held just a few weeks ago at DEF CON 22.

The contest challenged participants to design a robocall honeypot, a system for attracting robocallers. It’s a critical tool for helping law enforcers, researchers, and others enhance our understanding of robocallers’ tricky tactics.

A bossy business scam

You get an email from your boss’s boss requesting that you make a wire transfer to a new vendor. The email is marked urgent, so you ignore the 20 others that need your attention to take care of it. You handle wire transfers all the time, and you’ll definitely score points for responding so quickly, right? Maybe not.

Hunting the wily CROA-codile

They’re dangerous, they strike fast, and they rely on camouflage to ambush their prey. We call them CROA-codiles – companies that lure cash-strapped consumers in with false promises of debt relief and credit repair, in violation of the FTC Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). According to a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, the defendants added to the injury by claiming a bogus affiliation with federal agencies – and the President.

The final chapter in the FTC’s “Your Baby Can Read!” case

With a product name like “Your Baby Can Read!” – exclamation point in the original – it didn’t take long for consumers to figure out what the marketers were promising.  The company’s massive ad campaign featured 14-month-olds mastering vocabulary flashcards, two-year-olds reading books, and an array of charts, graphs, and studies purporting to show that Your Baby Can Read! was scientifically proven to work.

From the sports page to the front page

For some athletes and fans, September is the equivalent of the start of the sports “new year.” From the FTC’s perspective, it’s a good time to remind retailers that they need appropriate proof to support concussion protection claims for athletic mouthguards. That’s why FTC staff has sent letters to five major retailers, alerting them to concerns about what they’re promising on their websites.

David Mamet didn’t write the dialogue in this $40 million court order. It just sounds that way.

"A-B-C. Always be closing."

"As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired."

"These are the new leads. The Glengarry leads. To you, they're gold. But you don't get them. Why? Because they're for closers."

Big Data: What’s on the agenda?

Whether it’s advances in medical research, making sure buses are where they need to be during rush hour, or reducing how long consumers are stuck on hold listening to canned music, Big Data promises a lot for the future. But what are the risks it could be used to disadvantage some people?

Debt collection double feature

The 2011 science fiction movie “The Adjustment Bureau” dealt with a dystopian future (Is there any other kind in sci-fi movies?) where mysterious forces plot against individuals. But for many consumers, Regional Adjustment Bureau, a Memphis-based debt collector, made their day-to-day reality just as dystopic.

What’s the Deal? Dealing with shopping apps

Whether by click, tap, swipe, or scan, apps now offer a variety of beneficial services that can enhance consumers’ shopping experience.  These services help consumers compare prices in-store, load the latest deals, and make purchases – all from the convenience of their phone. To better understand the consumer protection implications of this ever-changing environment, FTC staff recently issued a report, What’s the Deal?

Wholly hobby

We’ll confess a certain fondness for the Hobby Protection Act. Based on the name, we were hoping it safeguards our right to watch reality TV while eating ice cream – our favorite hobby – but the real purpose is much different.

Acc-cen-tuate the negative?

Acc-cen-tuate the positive.
Eliminate the negative.
Latch on to the affirmative.
And don't mess with Mr. In-Between.

That's how the catchy Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters number went in the 40s. When it comes to negative options now, the message for marketers is to explain things positively.

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