If you’re in a small business, you probably need a way for people to pay you – and ways to lower your costs. Scammers have been working both of those angles, promising businesses that they can save on leases of credit card processing equipment. They’ve also been promising that businesses can cancel any time. But is that what happens?
Do you have one of those massive white boards that takes up the entire wall of your conference room? You may need it to follow the machinations that multiple defendants allegedly engaged in so they could bombard consumers with robocalls by the billions. (Yes, that’s with a “b.”) The FTC has gone to court to put a stop to their illegal activities.
Small business keeps America in business. But while you have your shoulder to the wheel and nose to the grindstone, it can be tough to keep an eye out for scammers. That’s why the FTC and law enforcement partners across the country have your back. Just one example is Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams, a coordinated initiative involving 24 civil and criminal actions against B2B fraudsters.
When it came to Mobile Money Code’s “system,” money was mobile all right. It traveled in a one-way direction from consumers to the pockets of the principals behind the get-rich-quick venture. That’s what the FTC alleged in a lawsuit filed against an international network of defendants. The FTC says they used affiliate marketing to promise that people would earn “60k a month on 100% autopilot,” but the typical consumer never got off the runway.
It’s unfortunate, but it happens. First came cryptocurrency. Then came the cryptocurrency crooks. In the emerging cryptocurrency marketplace, what needs to be done to protect consumers from scams, schemes, and swindles? That’s the topic of a half-day workshop on June 25, 2018, in Chicago, and the FTC just announced the agenda.
The company’s name is MOBE – pronounced Mōb, not Moby – but according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, the defendants tell quite a fish story to the consumers they hook with money-making promises.
A common phrase in the world of charities is that there are many ways to give. Making an online donation is one way, and using an “online giving portal” is becoming a popular option. Check out our new articles – one for consumers and one for businesses – that describe these portals and what to consider before using them.
Buckling up in the car is a precaution parents take to protect themselves and their children. When it comes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, navigating the rules of the COPPA Road helps protect your business and the kids who visit your website or use your online service. Most companies are familiar with COPPA’s mandate to get parental consent up front before collecting personal information from children under 13. But there’s another requirement farther down the COPPA Road that some businesses may not know about.
Chances are that people you know were duped by scammers and wired the money via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. This Thursday, May 31st, is the deadline for consumers to file claims to get money back from the FTC’s and the Department of Justice’s settlement with Western Union. Do your friends a favor and tell them about the deadline.
Vision Solution Marketing and related defendants pitch services to prospective entrepreneurs and people looking to supplement their income. Among the defendants’ products is business “coaching” that sets people back as much as $13,995. But given the host of alleged misrepresentations cited in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Utah, the FTC says the defendants definitely aren’t playing on consumers’ team.
Imagine getting a prerecorded robocall claiming to be from a “data service provider for Google” giving you “final notice” that “If you do not act soon, Google will label your business as permanently closed.” Second only to a fire alarm going off, that constitutes an ASAP emergency for many small business owners. But those robocall warnings aren’t from Google.
You can say this about scammers: They tend toward the trendy. As new products and services enter the marketplace, it’s not long before fraudsters find a way to exploit consumer interest in the innovation to make a quick buck. Cryptocurrencies are no exception, which is why the FTC is hosting a workshop in Chicago on June 25, 2018, Decrypting Cryptocurrency Scams.
On April 27, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed a challenge to a November 2016 FTC staff letter addressing certain prerecorded calls or “robocalls” using soundboard technology.
Mosquitoes don’t just bug us. A big concern is their penchant for passing along pernicious diseases, including the Zika virus. New Jersey-based Aromaflage claimed its sprays and candles were effective at repelling mosquitoes – including ones that spread serious illnesses – and repelled mosquitoes as effectively as 25% DEET. The FTC alleges those representations were false or misleading.
Why are you mumbling?
The TV is not too loud!
What did you say? This restaurant is like Grand Central Station.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. According to warning letters from the FDA and FTC, certain sellers of e-liquids – flavorings for e-cigarettes – are using packaging that imitates foods or beverages popular with children. Little kids who ingest what’s inside boxes that appear to be apple juice, cookies, candy, etc., risk acute nicotine toxicity, poisoning that can result in seizure, coma, cardiac and respiratory arrest, and death.
Keep a watchful eye on your service providers. For conscientious companies, that’s Privacy & Data Security 101. It’s also a key compliance tip from the FTC’s proposed settlement with mobile device manufacturer BLU.
Remember that public service announcement: “It’s 8:00. Do you know where your children are?” Technology has given parents tools for answering that question. But under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, online services touted as ways to keep kids connected need to comply with key parental notice and consent provisions of COPPA – especially when they’re collecting children’s geolocation. That’s the message of two warning letters just sent by FTC staff.
It’s a given that companies shouldn’t charge consumers hidden fees. But it raises a particular concern when an online lender makes “No Hidden Fees” claims a centerpiece of its marketing – and then deducts from those loans hundreds or even thousands of dollars in hidden up-front fees.
Last year, we heard from small business owners about their cybersecurity challenges at a series of roundtable discussions the FTC hosted with some of its partners. What we learned is that small business owners need and want information on how to keep their computer systems and business data safe. So we’re planning to provide that to them. Later this year, the FTC will launch a small business education campaign on cybersecurity, in partnership with other federal agencies.