Business Blog

How the FTC works for your community – and your business

“The Federal Trade Commission works for America’s consumers in every community.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said those words or heard them from my colleagues – and that’s a good thing. Of course, business owners are consumers, too, and the FTC works for you in two ways.

First, we strive to protect all consumers – including you, your family, friends, and employees – from deceptive practices.

Vegas dealers called for deceptive claims

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But here’s one thing that doesn’t belong in Vegas or anywhere else: ads that draw buyers in with eye-catching terms while burying the “gotchas” in fine print. In separate law enforcement actions, the FTC alleged that two Las Vegas dealers – car dealers, that is – didn’t play it straight with consumers.

What’s yours is mined

It’s one of those “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” principles: Don’t use someone’s stuff without their permission. Back then, the rule applied to crayons and cupcakes. A case announced by the FTC and New Jersey AG against the marketers of a free mobile app called Prized proves that it applies to smartphones, too. And you’re not going to believe what the defendants were using people’s phones to do.

Running the risk

The online ads offer consumers a “risk-free trial” of skincare products from companies that claim to be accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A- rating. How could that possibly be deceptive or unfair? Let us count the ways.

Don’t let a natural disaster become a data security calamity

A natural disaster can wreak havoc on any business. But it’s even worse when that real-world catastrophe becomes a data security calamity.

Before the summer storm season arrives, get your business ready. Just like you gather flashlights, bottled water, and emergency supplies, you can prepare your business by reviewing data retention and disposal practices.  

What's in your window?

The Buyers Guide on a used car can’t confirm whether the original owner was that little old lady who just drove to church, but it offers other important information about the scope of any warranty the car comes with. The FTC’s Used Car Rule requires dealers to display the Buyers Guide on used vehicles offered for sale.

The latest word on warranties

Look at those lists of the most admired companies in America and what do you notice about them? Great products, for sure. But many also enjoy stellar reputations for service after the sale. When a buyer is confident you’ll stand by your product, you’ve probably created a customer for life. One measure of that is how you honor your obligations under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Homing in on homeopathy

Homeopathy has been around for centuries. But what was once a niche product formulated for an individual user has grown into a multibillion-dollar over-the-counter marketplace. Just what is homeopathy? How are homeopathic products advertised? And how does the FTC Act apply to ad claims? Those are a few of the topics on the table at Homeopathic Medicine & Advertising: An FTC Workshop, scheduled for September 21, 2015.

An unlikely commencement address

It’s graduation season. How’s this for a truthful take on the usual oratory?

Esteemed guests and distinguished graduates, despite what we said in our ads, many of you just got a degree or diploma that won’t qualify you to get the licenses you need to land a job in your field. And don’t count on your credits transferring to four-year colleges. But thanks for the thousands of dollars you paid out of your own pocket!

3 dos, 3 don’ts, and 1 don’t-even-think-about-it

It’s a text that would make most people take notice: ALERT ALERT ALERT .. YOUR PAYMENT WAS DECLINED DUE TO AN INSUFFICIENT ACH TRANSACTION…CALL 866.597.3075. But it wasn’t really an alert. There wasn’t a declined payment. And an “insufficient ACH transaction” isn’t even a real thing.

It was a deceptive text message sent by debt collectors to illegally lure purported debtors into contacting them.

If the FTC comes to call

It’s a question we’re asked a lot. “What happens if I’m the target of an FTC investigation involving data security?” We understand – no one wants to get that call. But we hope we can shed some light on what a company can expect.

First things first. All of our investigations are nonpublic. That means we can’t disclose whether anyone is the subject of an investigation. The sources of a data security investigation can be news reports, complaints from consumers or other companies, requests from Congress or other government agencies, or our own initiative.

FTC to wipes maker: Back up your claims, not buyers’ pipes

A royal flush? More like a royal pain for consumers who trusted claims that moist flushable wipes manufactured by trade supplier Nice-Pak were safe for home plumbing systems. According to an FTC complaint, the wipes were made of a non-woven fabric that didn’t break down as quickly and easily as advertised, rendering that “flushable” claim a pipe dream – or maybe a pipe nightmare if your sewer or septic system got clogged as a result.

Privacy promises and bankruptcy: The latest letter

In the immortal words of renowned legal scholar Yogi Berra, it’s “déjà vu all over again.” A national company is in bankruptcy court and an issue has arisen regarding the possible sale of consumers’ personal information, at least some of which was collected with the express promise, “We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time.”

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