“Oh, my achin’ . . . .” It’s a common refrain for many older Americans and others who experience chronic pain. Some businesses respond with ads heavy on puffed-up promises, but light on the scientific evidence necessary to support serious health claims. That’s the FTC’s allegation against a company that sold a pill called Isoprex. The complaint also challenges the undisclosed use of compensated friends and family as purported consumer endorsers.
Between social distancing and COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, companies are turning to video conferencing services to get down to business. While these services help you connect, they also pose new privacy and data security risks. Here are some tips to keep in mind before hosting or joining a video conference online:
For small businesses, there’s never been a time when “business as usual” has been so unusual. With many companies facing coronavirus-related challenges, the FTC has tips for business owners – and for those offering small business financing – about navigating today’s uncharted financial waters.
It’s FTC Advertising 101: Don’t make claims about serious medical conditions unless you have solid proof in hand to substantiate what you say. It’s been the law for decades and now more than ever, it’s essential for advertisers to honor that fundamental principle. And yet companies continue to market everything from facial brushes to IV drips with promises to prevent, treat, or cure Coronavirus – claims the FTC calls into question in a new round of warning letters.
“Social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “virtual happy hour”— these are some of the new expressions on everyone’s lips the past few weeks. For many, add “remote learning” to the list. Because of school closures, millions of students are now using online, education technology (or “ed tech”) services to engage in remote learning from home. And while this fills a vital need, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these ed tech services collect and use student’s personal information.
Headlines tout rapid improvements in artificial intelligence technology. The use of AI technology – machines and algorithms – to make predictions, recommendations, or decisions has enormous potential to improve welfare and productivity. But it also presents risks, such as the potential for unfair or discriminatory outcomes or the perpetuation of existing socioeconomic disparities. Health AI offers a prime example of this tension.
If your business makes “smart” devices, you’ll want to read about Tapplock’s settlement with the FTC. It’s one more example of why businesses in the Internet of Things (IoT) space need to think about privacy and security when designing connected products.
Consumers hate illegal robocalls. And as the thousands of reports pouring into the FTC indicate, they also hate robocalls that exploit concerns about Coronavirus. In recent months, the FTC has taken innovative steps to take on not only illegal robocallers, but also companies that “assist and facilitate” their conduct.
As a business owner, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small business owners to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. And that source, of course, is the Small Business Administration’s dedicated page, sba.gov/coronavirus.
Consumers have come to expect their devices to be portable, but what about their data? The FTC just announced Data to Go, a public workshop set for September 22, 2020, to take a closer look at the potential benefits and challenges to consumers and competition raised by data portability.
If your company has made misleading Made in USA claims and represents that the inaccuracies have been corrected, it’s unwise to put ongoing compliance on the back burner. Conduct like that can move an advertiser out of the frying pan and into the fire. Case in point: the FTC’s proposed complaint alleging that kitchen and home notable Williams-Sonoma falsely represented its signature bakeware line as Made in USA.
Years ago, the Australian group Men at Work asked the musical question “Who Can It Be Now?” In the ongoing battle against Coronavirus scams, FTC staff just sent warning letters to nine companies reminding them of the potential ramifications of behind-the-scenes involvement in illegal COVID-19 promotions.
It’s an unprecedented time. But even in the midst of monumental change, the FTC’s commitment to its consumer protection mission remains constant. Here’s a statement from Chairman Simons about the ongoing work of the Bureau of Consumer Protection:
We’ve warned consumers about Coronavirus-related scams, but businesses are at risk, too. Keep your guard up against these seven B2B scams that try to exploit companies’ concerns about COVID-19. In addition to sharing this information with your employees and social networks, read on for how you can report Coronavirus scams to the FTC.
If you say you’re better, you’d better be better – and you’d better have appropriate proof to back up that claim. That’s a takeaway tip for businesses from the FTC’s proposed settlement with Federal-Mogul Motorparts, LLC.
Even as we all adjust to day-to-day changes, your work – and the work of the FTC – continues. If you’re a technologist or academic interested in presenting your latest research at the FTC’s PrivacyCon 2020, please let us know by April 10, 2020. Check out the Call for Presentations and respond by the deadline.
It’s a disturbing trend. Companies are targeting older consumers, claiming to have easy answers for serious diseases for which there may not be a proven cure. That’s one allegation in the FTC’s action against Nevada-based telemarketer Health Center, Inc. Another count challenges what we call “own-dorsements.”
If your business sells online, the price of the product is only one comparative calculation that consumers consider. Shipping matters, too. Does your business deliver to their location? How much will it cost? When will they get their stuff? Here are some practical principles to apply – and some myths to bust – about shipping products to customers from sea to shining sea.
The practice is called piggybacking, but it’s not child’s play. It’s where a person with iffy credit pays a credit repair company to be listed as an authorized user on the account of someone with good credit – even though they don’t actually have access. The idea is that the person with bad credit can inflate their own credit score and get the money-saving benefits of better credit by “piggybacking” on the credit of a stranger. That’s how a Denver-based business pitched its services to cash-strapped consumers.