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We’re ba-aack. Last year we offered our Top 10 “Nightmare on Main Street” consumer protection horror movies. Just in time for Halloween, the FTC Multiplex has reopened with ten more scary screens of deceptive practices.


Polter-priced. Ask consumers what scares them and they’re likely to answer zombie invasions and junk fees – not necessarily in that order. People are fed up with hidden and bogus charges that haunt many different kinds of transactions. That’s why the FTC has proposed a rule that would crack down on mysterious fees that lurk in the shadows.



FTC Halloween tales of deception

Village of the Spammed. Consumers have a right to keep their email boxes safe from spooky intruders, including unwanted commercial messages. The CAN-SPAM Rule requires companies to clearly tell people they can opt out of getting those messages in the future and to include a working unsubscribe link. Earlier this year the FTC announced a $650,000 settlement with a national company, alleging CAN-SPAM violations. We also published updated guidance on how to comply.


True Blood. Even vampires visit healthcare providers every now and then. And somebody somewhere must market a health-related app for blood-thirsty denizens of the night. We hope they’re up on the latest guidance from the FTC and HHS about health privacy. Collecting, Using, or Sharing Consumer Health Information? Look to HIPAA, the FTC Act, and the Health Breach Notification Rule includes informative links to help keep their practices within the law. 


The Texas Chainsaw Mail Order. Crazed cannibals with destructive implements can be pretty frightening, but so are individuals and companies that peddle fake or unsafe merchandise on online platforms. Whether they’re selling chainsaws, hacksaws, seesaws, or other consumer products, as of June 2023, the INFORM Consumers Act requires online marketplaces to collect, verify, and disclose certain information about “high-volume third party sellers.” Informing Businesses about the INFORM Consumers Act and What Third Party Sellers Need to Know About the INFORM Consumers Act offer to-the-point insights into what the law requires.


Frankenstain. Could that suspicious spot on your cloak be vampire blood – or ketchup? The good news for consumers is that the FTC’s Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers of wearing apparel to provide care instructions for the product. Read Clothes Captioning: Complying with the Care Labeling Rule for guidance.


The Signing. A haunted Colorado hotel, “redrum” in the mirror, the mysterious Room 237 – and an inescapable maze. Those are elements of what some critics call the most frightening movie of all time. But scarier than celluloid are the experiences of consumers who have been trapped by digital dark patterns. One pernicious practice that has been the subject of recent FTC law enforcement actions: making it easy for consumers to sign up for products or services and billing their credit cards like clockwork, but making it difficult to cancel.


A double feature: The Hills Have Eyes and The Watcher. It’s a popular horror film trope: The audience knows – but the hero doesn’t – that somebody is secretly watching their every move. It’s even more frightening when it’s a real-world threat that comes from apps and online services that promise to keep consumers’ personal information private and then share it with social media companies, online advertising platforms, and other shadowy third parties. It’s a top consumer protection priority at the FTC – a fact that should scare companies that engage in that illegal practice.


Hellr-AI-ser.  “Demons to Some, Angels to Others.” That was the slogan for the 1987 supernatural thriller Hellraiser. It’s also an apt description for how the potential uses – and misuses – of artificial intelligence could impact consumers. The FTC’s ongoing AI and Your Business blog series discusses some of the issues that should be on marketers’ minds.


Silence of the Scams. Fraudsters’ fervent hope is that consumers won’t report their creepy conduct. To help the FTC and law enforcement partners across the country identify deceptive or unfair practices, consumers and businesses should tell us about questionable conduct in the marketplace at


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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November 03, 2023

So creative and informative. Than you for protecting us from scammers.

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