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FTC-SBA warning letters caution against misleading loan program claims

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.

Care Labeling Rule: Should it be repealed?

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 Next in the review queue is a rule that’s been around for almost 50 years and the FTC is asking if it should be repealed.

Privacy during coronavirus

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?

New FTC COVID-19 warning letters take total to 250

Saunas, IV vitamins, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) devices, and licorice – yes, licorice – are among the subjects of the latest round of FTC staff warning letters sent to 30 companies promoting their products and services with COVID-19 prevention or treatment claims. Who got the latest letters and what representations raised concerns?

They use a COVID-19 pitch to sell WHAT?!

The beige envelope says IMPORTANT COVID-19 ECONOMIC STIMULUS DOCUMENT ENCLOSED. Inside – next to what appears to be the Great Seal of the United States – is the phrase COVID-19 STIMULUS (INDIVIDUAL) and a 16-digit serial number. The mailer also includes a check purporting to be from the “Stimulus Relief Program.” Is it official information affiliated with a COVID-19 economic stimulus program? We won’t leave you in suspense. It’s a car ad.

Six steps toward more secure cloud computing

For businesses, cloud services are kind of like clouds. At their best, they can be soothing and expansive. But for companies that fail to appreciate the security implications, their ethereal presence may hide dangerous storms within. As cloud computing has become business as usual for many businesses, frequent news reports about data breaches and other missteps should make companies think carefully about how they secure their data.

FTC says Kohl’s didn’t honor rights of identity theft victims

An FTC complaint against Kohl’s Department Stores alleges the retailer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by refusing to provide victims of identity theft with complete records of questionable transactions – a right the FCRA guarantees to victimized consumers. The $220,000 settlement is a reminder to other companies to rethink their approach to that provision of the law.

Looking for small business financing? Read this first.

Many small businesses, medical offices, non-profits, and religious organizations turned to a New York company called Richmond Capital for financing, but according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, they got less – and way more – than they bargained for. The just-filed law enforcement action against a network of related companies and individuals is the latest step in the FTC’s ongoing effort against questionable financing practices that target small businesses.

Essentials for complying with funeral price list disclosures

If your business sells funeral goods and services, you probably know that the FTC Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to give itemized price lists to consumers. To help ensure that you know what specific information needs to be in the lists and when you must provide it, the FTC has released a new tip sheet, Funeral Rule Price List Essentials.

FTC again warns multi-level marketers about unproven health and earnings claims

Dear Multi-Level Marketer. Stop it. Stop all promotions that push your products by claiming they prevent or treat COVID-19. Stop all misleading or unsubstantiated promotions that push your business opportunity by claiming people can earn substantial income peddling your products. The claims are unproven and deceptive. Whether you or your distributors are making them, you’re responsible. That means you could be breaking the law.

The letters of the law: 35 more companies warned about questionable COVID claims

FTC staff sent the latest round of warning letters to 35 businesses alleged to have made unsubstantiated coronavirus prevention or treatment claims. What they sold diverges widely – IV vitamin treatments, products containing silver, patches purporting to block electromagnetic radiation, etc.

Unemployment benefits fraud puts workers at risk of more ID theft

A large-scale scam involving phony unemployment benefits claims has been making headlines. Criminals, possibly based overseas, are filing claims for benefits, using the names and personal information of people who have not lost their jobs. The investigation is ongoing, but this much is known: the fraud is affecting tens of thousands of people, slowing the delivery of benefits to people in real need, and costing states hundreds of millions of dollars.

Message of the Qualpay case: Heed possible signs of fraud

Ostriches get a bad rap. The popular perception is that the species Struthio camelus bury their heads in the sand. But, in fact, they flee from perceived danger at speeds that top 60 miles per hour. An FTC proposed settlement with a payment processor that ignored signs that certain clients were engaged in fraud suggests that more companies should follow the real-life example of the ostrich and hightail it away from any association with illegal conduct.

FTC says Bronx Honda discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers

The FTC’s complaint against Bronx Honda alleges the company jacked up what consumers had to pay by fabricating fees, inflating charges, and sneaking in stealth add-ons. The lawsuit also alleges the defendants discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers by charging them higher financing markups and fees, in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Reg B.

50 more FTC warning letters say “Enough!” to questionable coronavirus claims

Elderberry, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, mushrooms, and horse milk. (Horse milk?) The FTC just sent 50 more warning letters to companies promoting products or services advertised to prevent or treat coronavirus. Here’s the latest list of who’s been warned, what they’re selling, and some of what they’re saying.

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