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2017: The consumer protection year in review

One Direction had a hit with a song called “18,” but the FTC’s recent law enforcement and policy initiatives suggest that the agency will continue to pursue many directions in its efforts to protect consumers in ‘18. (Sorry. We’re expecting a fresh shipment of pop culture references in January.) In case you missed them – and in no particular order – here are ten FTC consumer protection topics of note from 2017.

Fraud alert, freeze or lock after Equifax? Answers to questions people are asking you

After the Equifax breach, your customers, clients, and employees may be coming to you with questions. Some people are considering placing a fraud alert on their credit file. Others are thinking about freezing or locking their credit files to help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in their name. Here are some FAQs to help you help them think through their options.

Ed Tech in session

Today’s the day for the FTC-Department of Education workshop on Student Privacy & Ed Tech. As attendees in Washington, DC, settle in before the bell rings, get ready to watch the event from your desk. A few minutes before the 9:00 ET starting time, we’ll post the webcast link from the event page. That’s where you’ll find the full agenda, speaker bios, and public comments.

Advertisers should be uneasy about unproven disease claims

The “before” photo showed a silver-haired lady in a wheelchair with a hand on her furrowed brow. “24 hours after” and she’s smiling and knitting on the sofa, thanks to a dietary supplement proven in a 1200-person clinical study to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of joint pain, hypertension, diabetes, and depression. And how’s this for a bonus? Users can “easily lose between 8-13 lbs. per week.”

NextGen’s ad claims: Isn’t it ironic?

Like Alanis Morissette’s “rain on your wedding day” or “a free ride when you’ve already paid,” the FTC’s lawsuit against Florida’s NextGen Nutritionals, LLC, Anna McLean, Robert McLean, and related companies – in addition to challenging a number of claims as false or deceptive – includes three allegations that could be characterized as ironic.

Fauxmats, false claims, phony celebrity endorsements, and unauthorized charges

Online news reports appeared to feature the miraculous results celebrities like Will Ferrell and Paula Deen achieved from muscle-building supplements, weight loss products, and other merchandise. But according to the FTC, those “news reports” were deceptively formatted ads and the claims about “miraculous” results were false or misleading. And those weren’t the only secrets hidden within the promotions.

Is that B2B “free” offer really free?

If you own a small business or are active in a nonprofit, the alleged modus operandi of New York- and Illinois-based A1 Janitorial Supply Corp., three other companies, and two individuals should sound a warning. According to the FTC, the defendants called offices to offer a free sample of a cleaning product – but then cleaned up in an altogether different way.

Lone Star, but united partners

Everyone knows that The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. But did you know that The AG’s team is a partner’s dream, deep in the heart of Texas?

That’s the tune we’re humming to honor our colleagues at the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Texas Attorney General – recipients of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Partner Award. The Award recognizes their extraordinary contribution to our shared mission to fight fraud and deception in the marketplace.

The dark web: What your business needs to know

You’ve heard about the “dark web” and wondered how it affects businesses – including small businesses. That was one of the topics addressed at an FTC conference earlier this year on identity theft. Recent headlines about high-profile data breaches have added even more urgency to the discussion. So why should the dark web matter to your company?

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