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$40.2 million reminder about the importance of due diligence and monitoring

Companies that deceive consumers often don’t act alone. Pull back the curtain and you may find behind-the-scenes businesses that lend a hand. The FTC alleges that Atlanta-based First Data Merchant Services and its former vice president, Chi “Vincent” Ko, engaged in conduct that helped scammers rake in megabucks at consumers’ expense.

Do your COPPA Safe Harbor claims hold water?

Way back in Marketing 101, we learned that consumers factor a number of features into their purchase decisions: price, performance, product positioning, and personal preference, to name just a few. The FTC’s proposed settlement with game developer Miniclip serves as a reminder of another important alliterative consideration for many consumers: privacy.

Big concerns about small business loan pitches

Many small businesses are looking for a financial life preserver to help them stay afloat until the COVID-19 wave subsides. But joint warning letters just sent by FTC staff and the Small Business Administration raise concerns that some companies – including lead generators – are making questionable claims about their affiliation with SBA-administered programs designed to offer emergency relief to struggling businesses.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities: Hands off residents’ stimulus checks

If you have clients who operate nursing homes or assisted living residences, a word of advice from you now can save them from making a serious misstep. We’ve heard that some facilities are requiring residents on Medicaid to sign over their stimulus payments to the facility. That contradicts the CARES Act, so you’ll be doing your clients a favor by cautioning them against that practice – and here’s why.

Asking for your insights into the Health Breach Notification Rule

Next on the FTC’s regulatory review calendar: the Health Breach Notification Rule. In place since 2009, the Rule requires vendors of personal health records and related entities that aren’t covered by HIPAA to notify individuals, the FTC, and, in some cases, the media when there has been a breach of unsecured personally identifiable health data.

Fighting Coronavirus scams: Taking stock

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the FTC has released dozens of warning letters against people trying to make an illegal buck off the Coronavirus. More than a month in, it seems like a good time to look back at what’s happened. If you follow this blog, you’ll know these have been busy weeks – with advice about spotting the many scams we’re all facing, news of the warning letters sent on a wide range of scams, and some enforcement actions filed.

New funding for Coronavirus SBA loans attracts scammers

If you’re a business owner, you may be planning to apply for a loan through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. These programs recently got hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding. But, while you’re focused on getting a loan, scammers may be focused on you: hoping to trick you into giving them sensitive business information, like your bank account numbers, employees’ Social Security numbers, and even your money.
 

What’s at the intersection of COVID-19, cancer claims, and CBD? This FTC case

It’s a case that brings together eight capital letters that are making headlines: COVID and CBD. A California marketer of a product advertised to prevent or treat COVID-19 has agreed to a preliminary order that prohibits him from making those claims. Pending the resolution of a parallel FTC administrative action, the proposed order also bars the defendant from representing that three CBD-based products he sells are effective cancer treatments.

21 more companies warned about questionable COVID claims

FTC staff just sent 21 more warning letters to companies that have used allegedly unsubstantiated coronavirus prevention and treatment claims to promote products and services. Many of the latest letters focus on questionable representations for high doses of vitamins, intravenous treatments, ozone, and purported stem cell therapies.

FTC in action

In these unprecedented times, the Commission is working on all fronts to stop pandemic-related scams or deception – and to warn consumers and businesses about them. But our work in other areas continues, too. Today, we’re taking a minute to take stock of some of the highlights from 2019.

$9.3 million FTC settlement suggests Mail Order Rule compliance is always in style

Trend-conscious buyers want the latest styles ASAP and online retailer Fashion Nova reinforced those expectations by promising “Fast Shipping,” “2-Day Shipping,” and “Expect Your Items Quick!” But according to the FTC, the California company’s shipment delays violated the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and left consumers haute under the collar. The $9.3 million settlement is the largest ever in a case of its kind.

When the price is wrong: $175 million FTC settlement with Progressive Leasing shows why cost clarity is key

Some things have changed in the rent-to-own business, but a $175 million proposed settlement with Progressive Leasing reminds companies that bedrock consumer protection principles apply, especially the fundamental proposition that deceiving people about cost strikes at the heart of the FTC Act. Not in the rent-to-own industry? Not so fast. The case offers compliance pointers for your company, too.

First FTC coronavirus lawsuit alleges company lured consumers with false SBA connection

The COVID-19 crisis has many small businesses on the ropes, so it’s unfortunate we have to warn them about another threat. According to a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, a Rhode Island company that goes by the name “SBA Loan Program” has been soliciting applications from small businesses, but has no affiliation with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the loan programs that agency is currently running.

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