This time last year, we all were adjusting to a new normal. As the pandemic took hold, the FTC kicked into high gear on COVID-19-related issues, while continuing its work on other fronts, too. The just-announced 2020 Annual Highlights reflect important enforcement actions, policy initiatives, and outreach efforts undertaken in the past year.
Blog Posts Tagged with Small Business
The pandemic is still taking a toll on your customers, your employees – and your business. The new American Rescue Plan, just signed into law, gets the ball rolling to help out on many people’s financial well-being. Payments will soon be coming by direct deposit, checks, or a debit card to people eligible for the payment. You can learn more about who’s eligible, and the timing, at IRS.gov/coronavirus. Share that link with your staff to help keep them informed.
Among the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, add a higher risk of identity theft to the mix. In the past year, we had about 1.4 million reports of identity theft, double the number from 2019. Repeatedly, identity thieves targeted government funds earmarked to help individuals and small businesses hard hit financially by the pandemic. Find out about identity theft in the age of COVID-19.
Imagine turning on your computer one morning to discover you and your employees are locked out of your system. A threatening message appears on the screen demanding a ransom if you ever want to see your data again. You check your backups and they’ve been destroyed. Your business is at a standstill, losing money with every passing minute. It may sound like a nightmare, but for many companies, a ransomware attack is all too real. And even more disturbing is that reported ransomware attacks have increased dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it’s a bogus message claiming your trademarks are about to expire unless you transfer money immediately or threats to ruin your credit if you don’t pay for unordered office supplies, scammers have small businesses in their sights. You can help the FTC and its partners fight fraud and you don’t even need to wear a superhero cape (unless you want to). Your story is your superpower. When you tell the FTC about frauds, scams, and other kinds of bad B2B practices, you’re helping the FTC and our law enforcement partners spot and stop scams.
Ohioans know how to handle the virtually impossible.
What’s in a name? According to an FTC lawsuit filed in April, if you’re an outfit that uses the name “SBA Loan Program” – and you falsely claim to be an approved lender for the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus relief lending program – what’s in your name is deception. Under the terms of a settlement, that shady tactic stops right here, right now.
It’s National Small Business Week, a time set aside annually to salute American’s 30 million small businesses – companies that employ almost half of the country’s private sector workforce. The special focus this year is on the resilience and resolve of entrepreneurs and workers as they battle back against the impact of the pandemic.
Natives and fans heartily agree that “Cleveland Rocks!” That’s why the Federal Trade Commission and its Ohio partners are ready to roll with the next installment of Green Lights & Red Flags: FTC Rules of the Road for Business, set to make its online debut on October 29, 2020, from Cleveland.
Tenth anniversaries are traditionally for tin. So we’re commemorating the tenth anniversary of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center and Business Blog by doing some tin-kering that regular readers may have noticed. (Sorry. After a decade, the wordplay is second nature.)
If you have kids in school, there’s a good chance they’re kicking off their school year . . . in your living room. All the while, you’re connecting with clients, taking meetings, and making sales from a carved out corner at home. The start of a new school year is a good time to double-check your online set-up to make sure the kids can take their classes while you take care of business. Here are a few things to check or consider.
Every day, the FTC is collecting data, watching the numbers, and spotting the trends. We’re also spreading the word about COVID-19-related scams that target consumers and businesses. Because the more you know about what’s happening, the easier it will be to protect yourself and others from these scams.
Small businesses are a critical part of the U.S. economy, providing opportunity and employment to consumers across the country. Unfortunately, the current health crisis has brought financial strain to small businesses and their ability to secure the financing they need to survive. So now more than ever, struggling businesses and their owners need protection from deceptive and unfair practices. And the FTC is working swiftly to provide it.
For businesses, cloud services are kind of like clouds. At their best, they can be soothing and expansive. But for companies that fail to appreciate the security implications, their ethereal presence may hide dangerous storms within. As cloud computing has become business as usual for many businesses, frequent news reports about data breaches and other missteps should make companies think carefully about how they secure their data.
Many small businesses, medical offices, non-profits, and religious organizations turned to a New York company called Richmond Capital for financing, but according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, they got less – and way more – than they bargained for. The just-filed law enforcement action against a network of related companies and individuals is the latest step in the FTC’s ongoing effort against questionable financing practices that target small businesses.
Dear Multi-Level Marketer. Stop it. Stop all promotions that push your products by claiming they prevent or treat COVID-19. Stop all misleading or unsubstantiated promotions that push your business opportunity by claiming people can earn substantial income peddling your products. The claims are unproven and deceptive. Whether you or your distributors are making them, you’re responsible. That means you could be breaking the law.
A large-scale scam involving phony unemployment benefits claims has been making headlines. Criminals, possibly based overseas, are filing claims for benefits, using the names and personal information of people who have not lost their jobs. The investigation is ongoing, but this much is known: the fraud is affecting tens of thousands of people, slowing the delivery of benefits to people in real need, and costing states hundreds of millions of dollars.
Small businesses and nonprofits should never be on the receiving end of another company’s deceptive practices. An FTC action challenges the methods of companies that allegedly pitch offers for “no risk” business publications and then follow up with hefty bills for unauthorized orders. But it doesn’t stop there.
As companies struggle to stay afloat financially due to the economic reverberations of COVID-19, your employees are facing the same challenges at home. The FTC has something you can share with staff members in need – and it won’t cost you a thing.