Business Blog

Small business scammers’ bag of tricks

What do mystery writers, magicians, and some small business scammers have in common? The art of misdirection. But when it comes to small business scammers, we’re on to their tricks. Today the FTC announced that, at its request, a federal court stopped yellow page scammers that were targeting businesses all over the U.S. with a series of ploys. According to the FTC, this is how it worked.

Operation Ruse Control: 6 tips if cars are up your alley

When it comes to car advertising, truth should be standard equipment. That’s the message of Operation Ruse Control, a coast-to-coast and cross-border sweep by the FTC and state, federal, and international law enforcers aimed at driving out deception in automobile ads, adds-ons, financing, and auto loan modification services. The FTC cases offer 6 tips to help keep your promotions in the proper lane.

Mergers and privacy promises

Every company takes a different approach to how it collects, maintains, and shares consumers’ personal information. Companies that want to do right by their customers are careful to explain how they handle that data. That way, consumers will know how their data will be treated.

But what happens when a company changes owners or merges with another entity? Do the representations the company made to consumers before a merger about how their information will be used apply after the merger? Are there limits on how it can be used and shared?

BCP’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation: The next generation in consumer protection

The FTC keeps its finger on the pulse of markets, channeling its resources to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices involving new technologies. A few years ago, we created the Mobile Technology Unit to help bring consumer protection into the mobile era. Staffers assist the Bureau of Consumer Protection and FTC regions with law enforcement investigations and lend their expertise to the development of consumer protection policy.

Peace, love, and understanding

“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?” Elvis Costello asked that musical question back in the day. The Memorandum of Understanding between the FTC and CFPB – which the two agencies just reauthorized for a three-year period – shows that when it comes to protecting consumers, ensuring a vibrant marketplace for financial products and services, and using resources efficiently, we're in harmony.

When BOGO is a no-go

If you watch as much TV as we do, you may have been tempted to reach for the phone to order the Snuggie, that blanket with sleeves for couch potatoes; Forever Comfy, the answer to rump-sprung chairs; or a host of other items sold by New York-based Allstar Marketing Group. And if one Magic Mesh, Cat's Meow, Roto Punch, or Perfect Tortilla wasn’t enough, the ads reeled buyers in with a “double the offer” buy-one-get-one-free promotion the FTC and New York Attorney General said was misleading.

Cruisin’ for a TSR violation

Before your business cruises its way to violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), you’ll want to pay attention to the FTC’s latest case against telemarketers. The lesson: if the call includes a sales pitch, the TSR applies – no matter what other purpose the call may have.   

The Shipping News and Reviews

Consumers often first go to online review sites when they are thinking about buying a product or hiring a service provider. As a result, most businesses are concerned about managing their online reputation. But a recent FTC proposed settlement offers some lessons for businesses that seek to solicit online reviews with cash or other incentives.

Scientific substantiation: Take the right “app”roach

According to the National Cancer Institute, melanoma of the skin is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Many people want to keep an eye out for possible symptoms and take action fast, if necessary. So, could you make an app for that? Hmm, as “app”ealing as it sounds, hold the phone.

Law and Orders

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.

On our list: Updating fair packaging and labeling rules

It was a new era for shoppers in the 1960s. Suburbs, malls and grocery stores boomed. Esso “put a tiger in your tank.” And unscrupulous marketers came up with some new tricks. It turns out that a “jumbo pound” weighed, you guessed it – one pound. Into the fray entered the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), signed into law in 1966. 

Location, location, location

Does your app collect users’ locations? Is that happening even when they’re not using the app?  Savvy developers understand the importance of giving consumers a clear picture of what’s going on. The FTC has advice on making your practices more transparent.

Debt collection recollection

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. That’s so true when it comes to the thorny issues surrounding debt collection practices. Unlawful debt collection practices are a long-standing source of consumer complaints.  So, it only makes sense to have two cops on the beat; the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau work together to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and keep debt collection practices lawful.

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