Clearing out our IN box

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We’re glad you’re visiting the BCP Business Center and thanks for your questions. Here are answers to some of your AQs. (Calling them FAQs on a site devoted to truth in advertising doesn’t seem quite right.)

I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the disclosure I’m supposed to add when companies send me products to write about on my blog. Can you tell me the magic words?  No — and that’s because there are no magic words. Here’s how it works. Under the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, if there’s a connection between the marketer of the product and a person endorsing the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed. But no one is suggesting a mandatory “Danger Will Robinson!” neon warning box. What matters is effective communication, not legalese. A disclosure like “Company X sent me [name of product] to try, and here’s what I think about it” gives readers the information they need. Consider this rule of thumb: If you approach it as you would any other important fact you want to get across to people who follow your blog, it’s likely you’ll come up with a natural, informative way to convey it. But a “Where can I bury this so no one will see it?” attitude? Not so effective. Find out more by reading FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking.

I can’t find an old FTC case in the BCP Business Center.  Right now our topical case categories go back about five years. Some go back further and we’re adding more cases when we can, but the lists aren’t exhaustive. A great resource is the FTC Office of the Secretary’s index of FTC administrative decisions, organized by name and by volume. They go back to 1949.

You list cases alphabetically, but I’m more interested in the newest stuff.  Voila! Now you have a choice. When you go to CASE HIGHLIGHTS, you can sort them by Most Recent or A-Z.

Where can I find the FTC’s technical specs for data security?  There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Under the FTC Act, what’s reasonable for your company depends on the nature of your business and the kind of information you have. (Of course, there could be other laws — the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, etc. — that apply, too.) The FTC has free resources you can use in developing your data security practices. Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business is one place for small businesses to start. Also, it makes sense to follow recent FTC law enforcement actions in the data security area. The complaints and orders apply just to those companies, but they offer insights into conduct that has raised concerns — and the practices more likely to keep your customers happy and your company out of legal hot water.

I tried to respond to something in the blog, but my comment didn’t show up. What happened?  We want to hear from you, but ask that people abide by the published Commenting Policy. The most common reason for a comment not to be posted is because it includes a sales pitch. As a general rule, if a comment is relevant to the thread but has a link to a commercial website, we’ll delete the link and post the comment.

You have a case listed in the wrong category. Can you fix that?  Sure. When you spot a mistake — or if you have suggestions on things we can do to make the BCP Business Center easier to use — email us at

How can we get clearance to reprint something from your site in our newsletter?  You don’t need clearance. Stuff on our site is in the public domain. You’re free to reprint it in your newsletter or on your website — and we’d be delighted if you did. You’re also welcome to link to the BCP Business Center. Here are buttons to make that easier.

Is Lesley Fair a real person or is that a pun on “laissez faire economics”?  Lesley Fair is a real person, but thanks for thinking we’d know how to pun in a foreign language.

Most Esteemed Loved One: I write to you with much urgency in my heart. My late husband, the former Director of the Mining Secretariat of our small country, passed last year, leaving a sum of $USD 27,000,000 . . . .  You do know what that .gov in our URL stands for, don’t you?


Thank you for doing your best to serve the public good. Much respect and appreciation!

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It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system (PDF), and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system (PDF). We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.