October 2012

A piece of advice

You’ve heard the truisms.  Never eat at a place called Mom’s.  Never play cards with a guy named Doc.  We’ve got another one for you:  Think twice before doing business with a company called Legitimate Debt Settlement.

Painting the town green

The biggest decision facing a DIYer in the paint store used to be whether Dusting of Snow or Wistful Beige was right for the dining room.  But nowadays more businesses are making express claims about their products, including purported environmental benefits.  Two of the nation’s leading paint companies — The Sherwin-Williams Company and PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc. — advertised that some of their paints were free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Do you do B2B?

Old Blue Eyes wasn’t in the tech biz, but before giving the ring-a-ding-ding to a B2B transaction that allows partners to share customer data through software one company licenses to the other, we’re guessing he would have agreed with some basic principles derived from the FTC’s proposed settlement with web analytics company Compete, Inc.

Be clear about what you collect

Twenty years ago nobody told their third grade classmates they wanted to go into web analytics when they grew up.  But unlike cowboys and dinosaur wranglers, the analytics business is booming.  Information about consumer behavior can offer companies helpful insights to boost web traffic and sales.  But as a recent FTC settlement suggests, it’s wise to be transparent about your practices and take reasonable and appropriate measures to keep sensitive information secure.

A spirited closing letter

Bulk up while partying down.  At least, that’s the message FTC staff was concerned consumers might take from ads for Devotion Vodka.  According to the staff, the beverage was advertised to contain a significant amount of protein and to help build muscle mass — with the additional benefit of not causing hangovers.

If you deal in data

If information is your stock in trade, FTC settlements with consumer reporting giant Equifax Information Services and San Diego-based Direct Lending Source merit your attention.  The cases are a timely reminder to businesses that when buying and selling data, it’s important to build legal compliance into your day-to-day operations.

Networking to solve the problem of illegal robocalls

Like the character in the 70s movie “Network,” many consumers are “mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.”  What’s aroused their ire?  Robocalls made in violation of a 2009 rule outlawing many of these automated calls.  That’s why the FTC is convening Robocalls: All the Rage, a one-day conference —  it’s free and open to the public — set for October 18, 2012, in Washington, DC.

At the boiling point about "tech support" boiler rooms

For most consumers, the scam started with a disturbing phone call.  We’re from Microsoft (or Dell or Norton or McAfee), the “tech support” person on the line said, and we’ve detected a serious problem with your computer.  To underscore the need for immediate action, the caller directed people to a particular location on their computers and claimed that the presence of certain files — often accompanied by red Xs, yellow triangles, and other ominous features — was proof that their computers were riddled with malware and in imminent danger of crashing.  "Tech support" promised to correct the i

Green Day

If you make environmental claims in your marketing or have clients who do, today’s the day you’ve been waiting for:  the release of the FTC’s revised Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims — the Green Guides.  In the next few weeks, we’ll follow up with blog posts going into detail about what’s new, what’s changed, and what’s stayed the same.  But here’s our suggested TO DO list to help you get started.