Today’s Business Blog post is brought to you by the letters C-O-P-P-A. If your website or online service is covered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, you’re readying your business for the changes that go into effect on July 1, 2013. For the benefit of those looking for a compliance refresher, the FTC just sent out letters to more than 90 companies that may be affected by the revision to the Rule.
Lending a helping hand is great when you’re talking about a barn raising, a rent party, or assisting a little old lady across the street. But when the activity in question is, well, questionable — like selling businesses technology that can be used to place illegal robocalls — companies need to make sure they’re not assisting and facilitating violations of the law. That’s one message your clients should take from the FTC’s settlement with Skyy Consulting, which also does business under the name CallFire.
Have you marked your calendar for July 1, 2013? As the FTC announced in December 2012, that’s the date revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule take effect. If COPPA compliance is on your “to do” list, you’ll want to stay in the know about two related developments.
Shakespeare coined the line in The Merchant of Venice. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant referred to it in Stairway to Heaven. And now it's one of the topics up for discussion at an FTC Roundtable on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Any guesses?
"All that glitters is not gold."
Those people who approached you to buy information about consumers and said they needed it for things like determining creditworthiness, suitability for employment, or eligibility for insurance? They may really have been FTC staffers checking if companies were complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
When it comes to older consumers, the usual anti-identity theft advice still applies. But as we get older, we’re more likely to receive government benefits, visit the doctor regularly, or ponder a move to Del Boca Vista Phase 3 — lifestyle changes that may present different kinds of ID theft concerns. Sure, it's an important topic for older consumers and their families. But if you have clients in the financial services, healthcare, or residential care sector, an upcoming FTC workshop will help them focus on what this means for businesses, too.
We’ve been saying it for years: “What the headline giveth, the footnote cannot taketh away.” The same holds true for the dense block of text, the hidden-away reverse side, the vague hyperlink, or any other place the FTC has warned advertisers may not meet the standard for “clear and conspicuous” disclosure. A recent settlement involving long distance phone cards emphasizes what’s not so fine about fine print.
When the topic turns to debt collection, some people assume the only thing that changes hands is money. But there’s another important consideration: the life cycle of consumer information as it flows through the debt collection process. That's the subject of Life of a Debt: Data Integrity in Debt Collection, a June 6, 2013, roundtable co-hosted by the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Law enforcers hate ‘em, legitimate businesses hate ‘em, and consumers — well, they really hate ‘em: unauthorized charges that show up on people’s cell phone bills. It’s called mobile cramming and The Good Guys are united in finding answers to the problem.
A lot has been happening on the COPPA front. A few years ago, the FTC announced it was taking a fresh look at the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule to make sure it was keeping up with the times. Hundreds attended a national workshop to offer their candid assessment of what could be done to improve the Rule. Then came more than 400 written comments from consumer groups, industry, educators, and parents. You suggested sensible steps to keep Moms and Dads in the driver's seat about the information companies collect from their kids online while also streamlining compliance for busin
The FTC is always working to know more about the types of fraud being committed and who spends money on them. Periodically, we survey consumers and ask them to share details about their recent marketplace experiences and a bit about themselves. Our most recent survey found that nearly 11% of U.S. adults — an estimated 25.6 million people — paid for fraudulent products and services in 2011.
We can’t figure out why Hollywood hasn’t returned our call, but here's a great idea for an action movie. FTC attorneys go to court to stop a company from illegally billing people for text message-based subscription services they never asked for and didn’t authorize. We even have a can’t-miss title: Crambo.
The people with really cool glasses and fancier gadgets than the rest of us call it "the Internet of Things" — the fact that everyday devices are starting to communicate with each other and with us. Already we can use a smartphone to start the car, turn on the AC before we get home, and have the doctor monitor the trajectory of our blood pressure in traffic. But what if when we drive near a grocery store, our refrigerator lets us know we’re low on milk? Would that be convenient? Disconcerting? Or maybe a little bit of both?
It’s time for the FTC to recap the past year for The Boss. (We mean taxpayers, not Bruce Springsteen.) The FTC’s Annual Highlights is in an online format this time — be sure to check out the message from FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez — but it’s still packed with stats 'n' charts to show what we’ve been doing to protect America’s consumers.
The Funeral Rule establishes some basic requirements that apply to all funeral providers. Who’s considered a funeral provider? Any business that sells funeral goods and funeral services to the public, including funeral directors, funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories, among other businesses.
One key provision requires those covered by the Rule to give potential clients a written price list of the goods and services their business provides. The Rule also spells out some practices that are not allowed. For example, it is not permitted to:
Funny thing about the Fair Credit Reporting Act: It’s been around since 1970, it’s broad in scope, and yet a lot of businesses with obligations under the law may not be focusing on compliance. Warning letters the FTC just sent to six companies in a particular line of work underscore the need to double-check your FCRA responsibilities.
If this were a video blog, you'd see us doing that “Wayne’s World” gesture of admiration to our two new favorite people, Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss. And just what did they do to warrant our (and your) appreciation?
Consumers have made it clear: They want to know what their apps are up to. And when it comes to apps for kids, italicize that, put it in ALL CAPS, and multiply by 10. That’s why the FTC has released a new way of letting parents know just what their kids’ apps may be doing. Savvy app developers will want to take a look, too.
If you want to know which flix’s tix made for major boffola at the box office, you’ll have to consult the entertainment trade press. But a recent FTC “mystery shopper” survey offers other insights for your clients in the movie, music, or videogame industry.
Fair Guide. Is it a list of consumer protection laws? With summer coming, maybe ratings of the best funnel cakes and Ferris wheels? Forgive the flight of fancy, but we see it as a great title for a compendium of blog posts about business compliance. But that’s not what it is — not by a longshot.