Last year the FTC and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection sued Nudge, LLC, and related companies and individuals, alleging they used bogus money-making claims to lure people into buying real estate training programs – a scheme the two agencies say ultimately took consumers for more than $400 million. Soon after that, the parties entered into a stipulated preliminary injunction.
Online subscription services can be a convenience for consumers and a boon for business – especially now that so many people are shopping from home. But under the law, companies have an obligation to explain the details of the deal up front, clearly disclose any automatic renewal terms, get consumers’ express consent before billing, and offer simple ways to cancel.
Tenth anniversaries are traditionally for tin. So we’re commemorating the tenth anniversary of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center and Business Blog by doing some tin-kering that regular readers may have noticed. (Sorry. After a decade, the wordplay is second nature.)
If you have kids in school, there’s a good chance they’re kicking off their school year . . . in your living room. All the while, you’re connecting with clients, taking meetings, and making sales from a carved out corner at home. The start of a new school year is a good time to double-check your online set-up to make sure the kids can take their classes while you take care of business. Here are a few things to check or consider.
Every day, the FTC is collecting data, watching the numbers, and spotting the trends. We’re also spreading the word about COVID-19-related scams that target consumers and businesses. Because the more you know about what’s happening, the easier it will be to protect yourself and others from these scams.
As parents know, kids spend a huge amount of time online, especially now with COVID-19 school and camp closures. They get ideas from influencers on social media and video platforms, make purchases on their smartphones, and influence a lot of family spending. This phenomenon is not limited to the U.S. alone.
If you’re unfamiliar with loot boxes, you probably don’t have clients in the video game industry, aren’t a gamer yourself, or aren’t the parent of one.
Coronavirus claims for zappers, virus-busting cards, sage, oregano, and bay leaves are among the representations called into question in the latest round of warning letters sent by FTC staff. With the total closing in on 300, the letters make it clear that companies need to clean up their claims about preventing or curing COVID-19. Here are the products and promises that have raised the most recent concerns.
Consumers and small businesses want personal protective equipment now. So when companies advertise those items online with promises of in-stock merchandise and fast shipping, those claims may be the difference between a big sale and no sale.
Small businesses are a critical part of the U.S. economy, providing opportunity and employment to consumers across the country. Unfortunately, the current health crisis has brought financial strain to small businesses and their ability to secure the financing they need to survive. So now more than ever, struggling businesses and their owners need protection from deceptive and unfair practices. And the FTC is working swiftly to provide it.
Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical and related company Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical sell “plans of care” – regimens of health-related products – advertised to treat COVID-19 and other serious medical conditions. The FTC has gone to court in an effort to see the sun set on what it alleges are Golden Sunrise’s deceptive claims.
It’s one of the biggest purchases people make, but two new FTC staff reports examine some common pitfalls when consumers are in the market for a car. Buckle down and read the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Buckle Up: Navigating Auto Sales and Financing, which focuses on the challenges buyers face in getting accurate, understandable information when shopping for a vehicle.
Ask consumers what would make their lives easier and some lists might include a more comfortable home and lower bills. Four cases just filed by the FTC challenge allegedly deceptive R-value, energy-savings, or money-savings claims by unrelated companies that sell a variety of architectural coatings for houses and other structures.
As adage-writers go, whoever penned, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” should have looked for another line of work. And, the writer should have hoped that prospective employers wouldn’t spot a promotion for MyLife.com, saying they could see the writer’s criminal and sexual offender records by subscribing to MyLife’s background reports.
The FTC’s actions against Volkswagen for false “clean diesel” claims were record-setting in size, scope, and seriousness. The defendants spent millions to pitch their cars to environmentally conscious consumers. But behind those low emissions numbers was a dirty little secret – and we do mean dirty: The defendants had cheated on the test. The cases made headlines in 2016 and 2017 and for many people, that was the end of the road.
Your patient calls you panicked because she’s on her last pair of contact lenses. Perhaps due to COVID-19, she isn’t able to (or doesn’t want to) come into the office. You may determine, in your medical judgment, that it’s appropriate to renew or extend that prescription. How do the Contact Lens Consumer Act and the Contact Lens Rule apply to that interaction?
Maybe it’s the influence of that best-selling book on home organization or perhaps the silos of stuff in our makeshift home offices are becoming more noticeable. Either way, people are in a decluttering mood – and we are, too. Our recent project: updating and streamlining Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions, known as the COPPA FAQs. But not to worry. The revisions don’t raise new policy issues and our COPPA Rule review continues.
“Curtain up. Light the lights.” The FTC’s fifth PrivacyCon begins tomorrow, July 21, 2020, at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. Set a reminder now to join in from wherever you are. The virtual event will bring together global experts to share their latest research on consumer privacy and security, including topics like health apps, bias in AI algorithms, the Internet of Things, international privacy, and so much more.
Information Security and Financial Institutions: An FTC Workshop to Examine the Safeguards Rule – a virtual event to consider the future of the Rule – is on now. Watch from the LIVE WEBCAST link on the event page. In addition, FTC staff is tweeting from @FTC using the hashtag #SafeguardsFTC.
An online company advertising consumer goods, including personal protective equipment like masks and respirators, does business under the name SuperGoodDeals.com. But based on the illegal conduct alleged in a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, maybe it’s because the URL SuperDeceptivePractices.com was already taken.