Once you’re subject to an FTC order, if you do not comply with its provisions, there are consequences in addition to any you face for deceptive or misleading practices. Violation of an order can pave the way for civil penalties. This week, the Commission filed a complaint against Lou Lentine, the president and owner of Viatek Consumer Products Group, charging him and his company with making unsubstantiated representations about their insect repellent product – even though Lentine is under order in a previous FTC case.
Lentine’s company, Viatek, marketed Mosquito Shield Bands (also called Mosquito Bands and Bug Repellant Bands) on its website and through distributors and retailers, including HSN. Viatek’s promotional materials claimed that the bands, which could be worn on the wrist, ankle, or belt, and hung on strollers or walkers, would create a five-foot “vapor barrier” or “cocoon of protection” that protected the wearer for 96 to 120 hours. The FTC charged that Lentine and Viatek didn’t have evidence to support these claims.
But here’s the thing: this is not the first time the FTC has charged Lentine with lacking adequate evidence to back up claims about the products he’s selling. Because of his earlier failure to substantiate what his marketing touted, the FTC sued Lentine back in the day. Since 2003, he’s been subject to an FTC order that requires him to have “competent and reliable scientific evidence” to back up claims for his products. In the current case, the Commission alleges that Lentine and Viatek are in violation of the FTC Act and the 2003 order and seeks redress for consumers as well as civil penalties for violating the order.
Not to be a pest, but here’s a reminder: failure to comply with an order can lead to the sting of civil penalties.