As an essential engine of the American economy, small business has a big impact. But where can small business owners turn for the capital they need to grow? Traditional lenders are one option, but the “It’s a Wonderful Life” image of George Bailey at the Building & Loan may not reflect reality. New online options may broaden the availability of credit, but they also raise some consumer protection concerns.
To review everything the FTC did in 2019 dealing with consumer privacy and data security – Enforcement, Advocacy, Rules, Workshops, Consumer Education, Business Guidance, and International Engagement – it could take days to compile all that information. The FTC has an easier way to share those developments with your company, clients, and colleagues.
There’s a text message scam making the rounds that could target your mail room staff, receptionist, or other employees. The FTC has tips on how you can protect your business.
You're a heartbreaker.
Don't you mess around with me.
With apologies to Pat Benatar, our version of her hit Heartbreaker could join Love Stinks, You’re No Good, and Lips are Movin’ on our slightly skewed Valentine’s Day playlist. Maybe it’s the decades of dealing with deception, but February 14th reminds us to remind others that sometimes hearts and flowers can give way to hurts and sours – and reports in the FTC Consumer Sentinel Database support what we’re saying.
Ads for health products often target Boomer Consumers, but those aren’t the only claims pitched to people looking toward retirement. An FTC action alleges a company called Online Trading Academy has taken in more than $370 million by gearing its deceptive representations to that demographic. In addition, the complaint alleges violations of the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
Does your company use endorsements in your advertising? Or perhaps you endorse other companies’ products. Then you’ll want to follow the FTC’s just-announced regulatory review of its Endorsement Guides.
You’ve heard of the holder-in-due-course doctrine. An FTC settlement with two Oregon-based businesses introduces the folder-in-due-course doctrine: the principle that it’s illegal to make misleading claims to induce small businesses to buy advertising space in promotional folders. It’s the latest FTC action challenging deceptive practices that target smaller companies.
It can be one of the biggest expenditures a consumer makes. It’s a uniquely sensitive transaction. And it’s covered by an FTC Rule.
Top picks, star ratings, in-depth reviews. Many consumers don’t buy anything without consulting third-party review sites or checking out the opinions of other customers. But how often are those ratings the product of buying and selling between the “independent” site and companies willing to pay for better play? And are those reviews really from satisfied customers or are they from employees acting on instructions to stuff the ballot box with five-star ratings?
We know you’re busy with the business of your business. But we’re hoping for an hour of your time. Why? It’s tax season and tax identity thieves, government imposters, and cyber criminals are out in force. Find out how to help thwart them so you can keep focused on your bottom line.
We usually wouldn’t suggest you read someone else’s mail, but FTC staff just sent letters to 19 providers of VoIP telephone services and the underlying message about the breadth of liability for consumer protection violations is relevant to other businesses.
You Don't Say: An FTC Workshop on Voice Cloning Technologies convenes today, January 28, 2020, at 12:30 ET to consider the consumer protection implications of voice cloning technologies. If you aren’t able to attend in person, watch the webcast to hear what experts on the subject are saying. A LIVE WEBCAST link will activate just before the start time.
When people report scams, deceptive practices, or identity theft, the FTC and other members of the Consumer Sentinel Network regularly use that data for law enforcement purposes. But now we’re examining the information in innovative and interactive ways – and you can, too. The FTC just produced a video featuring Paul Witt, the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Sultan of Stats.
Have you had this experience? You hear about a remarkable innovation, but before you can finish the phrase “That’s amaz . . . .” you’ve already jumped ahead to the questions and concerns it raises. That’s how many people are responding to voice cloning – emerging technologies that let users make near-perfect reproductions of a person’s voice.
The new year has just begun, but the FTC already has delivered its answer to the annual question: Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? The answer? If you’re a past defendant in an FTC case, the FTC won’t forget you.
California-based mortgage broker Mortgage Solutions FCS also does business under the name Mount Diablo Lending. And according to the FTC, the company gave consumers a devil of a time if they posted negative reviews on Yelp. Is your business pondering how to address unfavorable consumer comments?
Cruise ships should conjure up images of umbrella drinks, shuffleboard, and the Lido Deck – not a sea of annoying robocalls. But according to the FTC, Grand Bahama Cruise Line and others unleashed a tidal wave of illegal calls purportedly pitching free vacations to consumers. The FTC has filed suit against the company and six related defendants. Also announced today: settlements with a call center and three individuals involved in the operation.
Certificates of Existence, Status, or Good Standing – sounds like an existential crisis, right? Instead of a philosophical commentary on the meaning of life, the certificates in question refer to business documentation from your state or local government. In a new twist on an old scam, some not-so-honest outfits may try to confuse you into thinking they’re from the government and that you need to pay for certain documents to operate your business.
They say hindsight is 20/20, but what about foresight? We’re not ones to prognosticate, but a look at notable FTC cases and initiatives from the past year suggests some topics likely to be top of mind in months to come. Here is a non-exhaustive list of issues in our 2019 rearview mirror and likely visible through the 2020 windshield.
When Chairman Simons and I arrived at the FTC, one of our first priorities was to strengthen the FTC’s orders in data security cases. We’ve already made three major changes that improve data security practices and provide greater deterrence, within the bounds of our existing authority.