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.
Financial institutions collect personal information from customers every day, from names and addresses to bank account and Social Security numbers. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule requires those institutions to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program. As part of its regulatory review process, the FTC has proposed changes to the Rule.
The FTC’s administrative litigation against NTT Global Data Centers Americas, Inc., just ended with a proposed settlement – and an important compliance message for companies that claim participation in the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework.
For consumers struggling with severe or chronic pain, ads for a product called Willow Curve appeared to offer light at the end of the tunnel. But the FTC alleges the marketers made false and unsubstantiated claims for the product, a device that applied low-level light and mild heat to the site of pain – and set people back between $599 and $799 in the process. The proposed settlement also sheds light on the FTC’s ongoing concern with deceptive native advertising.
In the face of COVID-19, many small businesses are looking for help from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. They may apply for PPP loans through Small Business Administration-authorized lenders and others the SBA has determined to be eligible. But there are concerns that some companies have falsely claimed an affiliation with the SBA or approved PPP lenders, or have represented untruthfully that people can get PPP or other SBA loans by applying on their sites.
We asked you to review and comment on the Contact Lens Rule and you responded. Thousands of you sent comments, and some included surveys, studies, and analyses.
FTC rules can have a substantial impact on businesses and on the everyday lives of consumers. As part of its ongoing review of existing rules, the FTC periodically seeks your input on whether a particular one still performs its desired function or if it’s been overtaken by changes in technology or the marketplace. Next in the review queue is a rule that’s been around for almost 50 years and the FTC is asking if it should be repealed.
If your clients are interested in Made in USA issues – and you know they are – there are two developments at the FTC they need to know about.
During this pandemic, preserving public health has, rightly, been our nation’s top concern. But a lively debate has arisen during this time about whether that top priority necessarily means that other values – such as privacy – need to give way. If tracking people’s location will facilitate contact tracing and enforcement of shelter-in-place mandates, do we give governments and commercial partners carte blanche to track our whereabouts? Will enforcing longstanding privacy requirements impede the flow of life-saving public health information?