The FTC monitors advertising in all media, and has successfully challenged a number of deceptive claims about disease prevention and health promotion.
The Commission recently challenged claims that Oreck vacuum cleaners and air purifiers prevented the flu; that certain Reebok shoes toned and strengthened lower body muscles; and that Nivea My Silhouette! skin cream reduced users’ body size. Each of these cases resulted in settlements that require the companies to refund money to consumers who bought their products: Reebok, for example, will refund $25 million.
The FTC polices the internet for deceptive ads, and recently brought a slew of cases involving questionable advertising techniques. In one recent sweep, the Commission filed 10 lawsuits against online marketers, alleging that they created fake news sites where they posted phony testimonials touting acai berry supplements as effective weight-loss products.
The FTC also stopped several fraudulent online negative option schemes, obtaining settlements banning their operators from marketing negative option programs and requiring them to surrender assets. Cases against Jesse Willms and Michael Bruce Moneymaker, both of whom allegedly charged consumers recurring fees without first getting their consent, were significant wins for consumers.
In Millenium Telecard, the FTC challenged a company that sold prepaid phone cards — many to immigrants who used them to call overseas — with allegedly false and deceptive claims about the number of minutes of talk time and fees that reduced the value of the cards.
- Oreck: FTC Settlement Requires Oreck Corporation to Stop Making False and Unproven Claims That Its Ultraviolet Vacuum and Air Cleaner Can Prevent Illness
- Reebok: Reebok to Pay $25 Million in Customer Refunds To Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising of EasyTone and RunTone Shoes
- Nivea: FTC Settlement Prohibits Marketer from Claiming that Nivea Skin Cream Can Help Consumers Slim Down
- Six Online Marketers: FTC Permanently Stops Six Operators from Using Fake News Sites that Allegedly Deceived Consumers about Acai Berry Weight-Loss Products
- Central Coast Nutraceuticals: Internet Marketers of Acai Berry Weight-Loss Pills and "Colon Cleansers" to Pay $1.5 Million to Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising and Unfair Billing
- Jesse Willms: FTC Halts Deceptive Practices of Marketer Who Collected $359 Million Using Bogus 'Free' Trial Offers
- Michael Moneymaker: Settlement Bans Billing Scheme Operators from Negative-Option Sales
- Millenium Telecard: Prepaid Phone Card Marketers Agree to Pay $2.32 Million to Settle FTC Charges
- Landmark Clearing: FTC Action Bans Payment Processor from Using Novel Payment Method to Debit Accounts
- Video: Free Trial Offers
- Consumer Education: "Free Trials" Aren't Always Free
- Consumer Education: How's That Work-Out Working Out? Tips on Buying Fitness Gear
- Consumer Education: This Just In: Fake News Sites Promote Bogus Weight Loss Benefits of Acai Berry Supplements