It’s awards season for the entertainment industry. There’s no red carpet in front of the FTC and no one’s likely to ask “Who are you wearing?” — except to ascertain that the manufacturer complied with the Care Labeling Rule. But consumer protection is a common theme in movies nonetheless. With acknowledgments to Steve Baker, director of the FTC’s Midwest Region who first started the list, here are some of our favorite consumer protection-themed films:
The FTC has gone to court in an effort to shut down an operation that allegedly blasted consumers with more than five million illegal spam text messages, including many pitching loan modification help, debt relief, and other services. The agency also has charged that the defendant marketed his text message services with email that violated the CAN-SPAM Act.
How do leaders in advertising, marketing, and law stay current on FTC developments that affect consumers? They read Penn Corner, the agency's monthly digest of notable updates. The February edition runs the gamut from a law enforcement crackdown on robocalls to an FTC staff comment on a North Carolina Board of Opticians' proposal that could impact how Tarheels (and Blue Devils, Demon Deacons, Eagles, and the Wolfpack) buy glasses and contacts.
Of course, no legitimate business would put out a welcome mat for crooks. But as the FTC’s data security cases make clear, that’s the effect when companies fail to take reasonable steps to secure sensitive information in their possession — or data they allow others to access. Three recent settlements with companies that resell credit reports illustrate that point.
Whether you’re waiting to board an airplane or grabbing a quick cuppa at a neighborhood café, public wireless networks are a great way for busy professionals to keep connected.
Convenient? Yes. Secure? Mmm, not so much.
Unfortunately, most hotspots don’t encrypt what goes over the internet. So if you send email, manage your calendar, use social networks, or transmit financial data while using a public network, you make it easier for hackers to lift confidential info like user names, passwords, and account numbers.
Paying millions in refunds.
Doing business under stringent injunctive provisions.
Posting hefty bonds before selling certain products.
For most people, the potential consequences of an FTC enforcement action are enough deterrent to stay within the bounds of the law. But some marketers just don’t seem to get the message, as two recent cases demonstrate.
America’s homeowners just gained new protections. While parts of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Service (MARS) Rule requiring disclosures in advertising and other communications went into effect on December 29, 2010, the ban on upfront fees kicked in on January 31st. Now, companies that claim to help consumers avoid foreclosure or modify their loans can’t collect a penny until they get their customers what they want.
If you work in the health care or HR field or have clients who do, you’ve probably run across it. A patient complains about a bill for medical services they didn’t receive. An employee who rarely goes to the doctor gets told they’ve reached the limit on their health benefits. Someone gets denied coverage because their medical records show a condition they don’t have.
As a recent FTC action against three companies and their owner proves, ads promising quick and easy relief from credit card debt are likely to attract law enforcement attention. But this case featured an interesting twist because what the company really was up to was generating leads it turned around and sold to other companies.
Chances are a person you know — an employee, someone who works in your building, a neighbor perhaps — is navigating the process of getting a green card or work visa. Do them a favor and warn them about outfits that falsely claim an affiliation with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).