Annual Highlights 2013

Education

Acting on the belief that enforcement and education are the one-two punch behind the most effective programs to promote competition and protect consumers, the FTC seeks to alert businesses from Wall Street to Main Street to compliance standards, and to alert consumers to the tell-tale signs of fraud and deceptive business practices. Most education campaigns relate to law enforcement actions; others deal with issues like identity theft and online safety and security. Our campaigns successfully use the media, the web, and thousands of interested intermediaries to disseminate important information.

Introduction

education

In 2013, the FTC published 125 blog posts for business people and attorneys, and 222 blog posts for consumers. Posts about tech support scams, phantom debt, and phishing emails were among the most popular. More than 25,000 people subscribe to business blog updates, and more than 40,000 subscribe to Penn Corner, the FTC’s monthly newsletter. In addition, the FTC released Gut Check: A Reference Guide for Media on Spotting False Weight Loss Claims, information for mobile app developers, information about complying with the Risk-Based Pricing Rule; and to help marketers comply with the revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule in a timely way, the agency released COPPA: A Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business, a series of questions and answers about the rule, and a video.

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Competition Matters Blog

The FTC debuted its newest blog for all things competition, with insights, news, and events from the Bureau of Competition, the Bureau of Economics, the Office of Policy Planning, and the Office of International Affairs.

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Search Engine Guidance Letters

As part of the Commission’s continuing effort to ensure its guidance for online advertisers is current with changes in digital media, FTC staff sent letters to seven general-purpose search engine companies and 17 specialized search engine companies updating them on our expectations about distinguishing paid search results and other forms of advertising from natural search results. The updated guidance emphasized the need for visual cues, labels and other techniques to help avoid misleading consumers, and it recommended ways to make sure disclosures used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers.

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First-Ever Military Consumer Protection Day

Military Consumer Protection Day website

The FTC gathered a team of organizations to produce the first Military Consumer Protection Day. Held in July 2013, the Department of Defense, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Military Saves joined the FTC to lead the effort to empower military and veterans’ communities with information about managing money, protecting personal information, and avoiding scams. Two dozen other federal and state agencies, consumer advocates, and industry groups also were partners.

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Online Safety Videos

Using Public Wi-Fi Networks video

The FTC manages OnGuardOnline.gov, a campaign by 16 federal agencies to encourage safety, security and responsibility online. In February 2013, OnGuardOnline.gov released a series of four videos: Using Public Wi-Fi Networks, Computer Security, Online Shopping Tips and Protect Your Computer from Malware.

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Weather Emergencies

In 2013, we published new information to help people prepare for, deal with, and recover from weather emergencies. The FTC’s materials help people protect their property, personal information and finances from scammers who use weather emergencies to cheat people in a variety of ways, including through fraudulent fundraising.

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