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The terms of the FTC’s Spokeo settlement apply just to Spokeo, but that case and other recent law enforcement actions offer insights for a much broader audience.

Consumer reporting agencies.  Sure, people usually think of a few specific companies when the topic turns to consumer reports, but the definition of “consumer reporting agency” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act is broader than you might think.  If you’re covered under the FCRA, you have certain responsibilities under the law.  Among other things, you have to take reasonable steps to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of what’s in the reports.  You also have to give those who use the reports how-tos about complying with the law.  Bookmark the Business Center’s Credit Reporting page for resources.

Employers.   If you use information from reports in making decisions about hiring, firing, promotions, etc., the FCRA requires that you take certain steps before and after.  It’s also wise to check on laws in your area because some states restrict the use of reports for employment purposes.  Read Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know for essential info. 

Recent grads.  We hate to break the news, but what happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas.  When you’re looking for a job, applying for insurance, or trying to get an apartment, know that companies may be checking your report and may look for other information about you.  And these days, a prime source of data is online, including social networking sites.

Advertisers.  There’s nothing like positive word of mouth to promote your brand, but resist the temptation to post favorable stuff about your products on blogs or elsewhere without revealing who you are.  When it comes to the FTC Act and the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, compliance doesn’t have to be complicated:

  1. Mandate a disclosure policy in keeping with the law;
  2. Make sure people who work for you or with you know what the rules are; and
  3. Monitor what they’re doing on your behalf.

Read The FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking to find out more

Ad agencies and PR firms.  Of course, you want results for your clients — and online buzz is a great indicator.  But the law applies to you, too.  Deceptive endorsements can create a headache for your client and there’s no worse PR for a PR firm than a bogus PR campaign.  Watch this video for a two-minute compliance refresher.



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