Saunas, IV vitamins, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) devices, and licorice – yes, licorice – are among the subjects of the latest round of FTC staff warning letters sent to 30 companies promoting their products and services with COVID-19 prevention or treatment claims. Who got the latest letters and what representations raised concerns?
The beige envelope says IMPORTANT COVID-19 ECONOMIC STIMULUS DOCUMENT ENCLOSED. Inside – next to what appears to be the Great Seal of the United States – is the phrase COVID-19 STIMULUS (INDIVIDUAL) and a 16-digit serial number. The mailer also includes a check purporting to be from the “Stimulus Relief Program.” Is it official information affiliated with a COVID-19 economic stimulus program? We won’t leave you in suspense. It’s a car ad.
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.
An FTC complaint against Kohl’s Department Stores alleges the retailer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by refusing to provide victims of identity theft with complete records of questionable transactions – a right the FCRA guarantees to victimized consumers. The $220,000 settlement is a reminder to other companies to rethink their approach to that provision of the law.
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.
If your business sells funeral goods and services, you probably know that the FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to give itemized price lists to consumers. To help ensure that you know what specific information needs to be in the lists and when you must provide it, the FTC has released a new tip sheet, Funeral Rule Price List Essentials.
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.
FTC staff sent the latest round of warning letters to 35 businesses alleged to have made unsubstantiated coronavirus prevention or treatment claims. What they sold diverges widely – IV vitamin treatments, products containing silver, patches purporting to block electromagnetic radiation, etc.
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.
Ostriches get a bad rap. The popular perception is that the species Struthio camelus bury their heads in the sand. But, in fact, they flee from perceived danger at speeds that top 60 miles per hour. An FTC proposed settlement with a payment processor that ignored signs that certain clients were engaged in fraud suggests that more companies should follow the real-life example of the ostrich and hightail it away from any association with illegal conduct.
The FTC’s complaint against Bronx Honda alleges the company jacked up what consumers had to pay by fabricating fees, inflating charges, and sneaking in stealth add-ons. The lawsuit also alleges the defendants discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers by charging them higher financing markups and fees, in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Reg B.
For a company called Harvest Moon, its business practices sure leave consumers in the dark about key aspects of its payday loans. That’s what the FTC alleges in a case filed in federal court in Nevada.
Elderberry, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, mushrooms, and horse milk. (Horse milk?) The FTC just sent 50 more warning letters to companies promoting products or services advertised to prevent or treat coronavirus. Here’s the latest list of who’s been warned, what they’re selling, and some of what they’re saying.
Just as consumers are engaging in social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, businesses, too, should distance themselves from companies using robocalls to spread coronavirus-related scams. That’s the message of joint warning letters just sent by the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission.
Companies that deceive consumers often don’t act alone. Pull back the curtain and you may find behind-the-scenes businesses that lend a hand. The FTC alleges that Atlanta-based First Data Merchant Services and its former vice president, Chi “Vincent” Ko, engaged in conduct that helped scammers rake in megabucks at consumers’ expense.
Way back in Marketing 101, we learned that consumers factor a number of features into their purchase decisions: price, performance, product positioning, and personal preference, to name just a few. The FTC’s proposed settlement with game developer Miniclip serves as a reminder of another important alliterative consideration for many consumers: privacy.
Many small businesses are looking for a financial life preserver to help them stay afloat until the COVID-19 wave subsides. But joint warning letters just sent by FTC staff and the Small Business Administration raise concerns that some companies – including lead generators – are making questionable claims about their affiliation with SBA-administered programs designed to offer emergency relief to struggling businesses.
If you have clients who operate nursing homes or assisted living residences, a word of advice from you now can save them from making a serious misstep. We’ve heard that some facilities are requiring residents on Medicaid to sign over their stimulus payments to the facility. That contradicts the CARES Act, so you’ll be doing your clients a favor by cautioning them against that practice – and here’s why.
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.