Business Blog

Shedding light on what your app is up to: 3 lessons for developers

Goldenshores Technologies’ “Brightest Flashlight Free” is an incredibly popular Android app downloaded by tens of millions of consumers.  But did those people know that when they used the app, it would transmit their precise location and unique device identifier to third parties, including ad networks?  According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, Goldenshores didn’t give people the straight story about how their information would be used and then compounded the problem by making them think they could exercise a choice about it – a “ch

And now for something completely different

Take out your mobile device where you input all that personal information and make note of three upcoming FTC events where the topic of conversation will be, well, the collection and use of all that personal information.  But this time we're switching things up a bit.  The FTC's Spring Privacy Series will consist of three two-hour seminars focused on emerging issues that consumers, industry groups, consumer advocates, and academics are starting to talk about.

After the cameras stop rolling

Every so often, the FTC announces a law enforcement sweep targeting a particular kind of deceptive practice.  Sometimes there’s a press conference featuring federal agencies and state AGs.  Blue suits and official seals abound.  A typical headline:  “More Than 70 Actions Brought By FTC and Its Law Enforcement Partners.”  But do you ever wonder what happens after the cameras stop rolling?

Combating "cramouflage": What businesses can learn from the FTC's latest mobile case

Call it "cramouflage" — unauthorized (and unexplained) charges that show up on people's mobile phone bills.  Regardless of whether consumers use cell phones, land lines, or two cans tied together with string, it’s illegal to bill them without their express consent.  That’s always been the law.  It’s the law now.  And we’ll go out on a limb and predict it’ll always be the law.  A settlement involving "cramouflage" charges is the FTC's latest foray against deception in the mobile marketplace.

Heads up, payment processors

Here’s a fun fact we didn’t know:  Contrary to popular belief, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand.  And here's a disturbing observation borne out by FTC experience:  Some companies that grease the wheels for fraudsters do bury their heads in the sand.  Others go a step further and help cover up their affiliates’ wrongdoing.  Either course of conduct could land them in legal hot water.  That’s just one message businesses can take from the FTC’s settlement with Process America, Inc.

Blurred lines

Blurred lines are the talk of the media world.  No, not that “Blurred Lines.”  What advertisers, consumer groups, academics, and the FTC are trying to put into focus is the blending of ads with news, entertainment, and other content in digital media — sometimes called “native advertising” or “sponsored content.”  That’s what’s up for discussion at a December 4, 2013, public workshop at the FTC.  Blurred Lines:  Advertising or Content? will explore ways that consumers g

How your business can help protect those who protect us

Maybe it’s a “We Support Our Troops” sign at the front of your business or a special discount for members of the military.  There are lots of ways companies try to show appreciation to servicemembers and their families.  If Veterans Day has you thinking about how to say “thank you” for their sacrifice, the FTC has an easy first step:  Honor their legal rights.

How I spent my summer vocation: FTC revises Vocational School Guides

We’ve all seen ads for vocational schools promising the inside track on well-paying careers in exciting industries.  If you have clients in the vocational school business, class is in session about revisions to key FTC guides.

In place since 1972, the Vocational School Guides (known more formally as the Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools) are designed to protect potential enrollees from deceptive statements about educational programs that claim to qualify people for certain occupations or trades.

In a world . . .

In a world where your coffee pot secretly notifies your toaster that you’re ready for breakfast, one agency dares to stand up and ask the question others won’t:  Just what are the consumer privacy and security implications?

A Mark, A Yen, A Buck or A Pound

Those billions of dollars people send from the U.S. to other countries make the world go around. If your company or your clients are in the business of sending remittances overseas for consumers, you need to know about a rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that just took effect.

6 tips for keeping your green claims clean

A recent FTC law enforcement crackdown focused on allegedly deceptive biodegradability claims for plastics. Four of the cases settled and a fifth is heading to trial. Another action targeted green claims made by a company the FTC had sued before. Of course, the orders in the cases apply just to those companies, but if you’re intent on keeping your green claims clean, there’s a lot you can glean from the announcement.

Grading your degradability claims: The latest for green marketers

Golf tees, food containers, paper plates, shopping bags, additives for plastics, and rebar caps to prevent construction workers from getting impaled on the job. That’s either the strangest shopping list ever or just some of the products at the center of the FTC’s latest law enforcement effort to make sure companies’ environmental claims are truthful and substantiated.

Phantom of the owe-pera

This tale of phantoms doesn’t involve crashing chandeliers and operatic crescendos.  But according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, the results were just as dramatic for consumers mistreated by debt collectors who used deceptive and threatening tactics to collect on “phantom” payday loans — bogus debts people didn’t really owe.  The complaint charges Atlanta- and Cleveland-based Pinnacle Payment Services, LLC and a chorus of corporate officers and affiliated outfits with violations of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practice

Pages