Here’s a compliance tip that extends beyond the narrow facts of the FTC case at hand: If you run into legal trouble and are able to avoid law enforcement action, make sure it doesn’t happen a second time. That’s what business people from every sector can take from the FTC’s settlement with James Donofrio and Donmaz Ltd., doing business as New York’s Blair-Mazzarella Funeral Home.
An undercover inspection at a funeral home? It may sound like the plot summary for a movie pitch, but it's the very real — and very serious — work of people trying to make sure consumers are protected when they're shopping for funeral services.
This one took some chutzpah — with a capital -CHHH. But there's a message, too, for companies that want to keep their promotions on the up-and-up.
People are going mobile — so transactions are, too. Today the FTC is hosting a national workshop, Paper, Plastic . . . Mobile, to consider the consumer protection implications of mobile payments. How can you get involved?
Does the IRS have a Form 1039? Do drivers ever get their kicks on Route 67? And does 3.14158 ever feel unappreciated because pi gets all the attention?
Most attorneys and business executives are familiar with Section 5 of the FTC Act, which outlaws unfair or deceptive trade practices. But Section 6 also plays a critical role in protecting consumers. Specifically, Section 6(b) authorizes the FTC to get information from companies — “special reports” — about certain aspects of their business.
Earth Day is approaching and it’s great when businesses decide to go green. But if the “green” they have in mind is the hard-earned cash of consumers interested in making wiser environmental choices, companies should remember that well-settled truth-in-advertising principles apply. The FTC’s law enforcement action against the people behind the “Green Millionaire” promotion emphasizes that point.
If you haven’t already, hover up to your toolbar and bookmark the FTC’s Regulatory Review page. It’s your one-stop resource for what's coming up and what’s going down with Commission rules and guides of interest to your business and your clients. Recent announcements about the FTC's regulatory review schedule make it a must-read.
Mobile devices are changing how people go about their daily lives, and that includes how they pay for stuff. As announced in January, the FTC is hosting a workshop on April 26, 2012, to examine the use of mobile payments in the marketplace and their effects on consumers. The workshop — which will be held at the FTC’s Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. — is free and open to the public. The agenda is now available.
Imagine for a moment your ideal customer. They consider their choices carefully before buying. They keep their accounts current. When service is top-notch, they spread the word to friends and family. If there’s a glitch, they give you a chance to correct the problem before posting thumbs-down reviews. Now imagine you could “create” your own cadre of contented customers. Fantasy Land? It’s more real than you might imagine.
With a company name like Broadway Global Master, you might expect high kicks and jazz hands. The defendants told a dramatic story, all right — but according to the FTC, it was a harrowing tale of intimidation.
Last week saw FTC announcements involving allegations of foreclosure rescue fraud, deception aimed at people trying to resell their timeshares, complaints against payday lenders, and lawsuits against outfits claiming to help consumers behind on their car payments. Is there a theme here? You bet. But the message isn't just for companies engaged in practices targeting consumers struggling to stay afloat. There are words to the wise for businesses of any size and every stripe.
Tough federal and state law enforcement has turned up the heat on mortgage foreclosure rescue scams. So some operators are turning to auto loan modifications to make a fast buck on consumers in financial distress. In the first cases of their kind filed by the FTC, the agency is alleging that two unrelated California outfits charged hundreds of dollars in upfront fees, based on bogus claims they could reduce consumers’ monthly car notes and help them avoid The Repo Man.
Take the case of one person who borrowed money from a payday loan operation the FTC has taken to court for allegedly illegal practices. According to the FTC, the consumer was told that a $500 loan would cost him $650 to repay. But by slicing and dicing repayments in a way that generated undisclosed fees, the defendants allegedly tried to charge him $1,925 to pay off the $500 loan — and threatened him with arrest when he balked.
There are lots of good reasons for businesses to comply with the National Do Not Call Registry: It ensures your marketing message will be heard by a more receptive audience and it protects your company from the ire of consumers who don’t want to be disturbed. But in a case involving calls pitching "free" government grants, a federal judge in Rochester, New York, just added 30 million more reasons not to call people on the list.
The FTC has filed another action against defendants who allegedly attempted to squeeze the last drop from homeowners already under water. This case, however, involves a disturbing new variation on foreclosure "rescue" operations.
Are there hotter topics these days than data security and kids’ privacy? An FTC law enforcement settlement with the social networking site RockYou ticks both of those topical boxes and challenges a course of conduct the FTC says made it easier for hackers to access the personal information of 32 million users. The complaint also alleges the company collected info from kids in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.