April 2015

Using consumer health data?

With the help of innovative businesses, consumers are taking a more active role in managing their health information. How? Maybe it’s an app that monitors their exercise habits, a device that lets diabetics track glucose levels, or a site where patients with the same condition share information. In addition, people are starting to download their information into personal health records, partially because of regulatory initiatives promoting secure online access to medical data.

Destination: Buffalo

Buffalo is famous as the home of the Bills, but it’s also home to many bill collectors. The FTC is sponsoring a series of Debt Collection Dialogues across the country and the first stop will be Buffalo on June 15, 2015, in conjunction with the New York Attorney General’s Office. If debt collection practices are of interest to you, fry the wings, take out the hot sauce – and mark your calendar for June 15th.

Will a $63 million FTC-CFPB settlement encourage Green Tree to turn over a new leaf?

As the name suggests, Green Tree Servicing was supposed to service homeowners’ mortgages by collecting and crediting monthly payments. But according to a $63 million settlement announced by the FTC and CFPB, rather than service, Green Tree gave many homeowners the business.

Affiliation explication

If you’re active in affiliate marketing, a summary judgment ruling by a United States District Court offers additional support for the conclusion that “Who, me?” isn’t likely to be a persuasive defense to allegations of deception. As a result of the holding, affiliate marketing network LeadClick Media and its parent company, CoreLogic, have to turn over a total of $11.9 million in ill-gotten gains.

Same time next year

Does your company participate in the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework? It’s a voluntary international privacy program administered by the Department of Commerce that lets companies transfer data from the EU to the U.S. in compliance with EU law. Of course, data security and privacy are everyday obligations for companies, but are you honoring one particular once-a-year provision? And what about promises you make regarding how you resolve consumer disputes?

Questionable calls

Call me (call me) on the line.
Call me, call me any, anytime.

We were big Blondie fans, but if the lyrics of “Call Me” are any indication, they’re not the best source of information about complying with the Do Not Call and robocall provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. So we’re turning to FTC attorney Bikram Bandy to get answers to questions that businesses are asking.

Don’t worry. We won’t tell the boss.

If you handle personnel matters for your company, Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know should be on your desk. The joint FTC-EEOC publication offers dos and don’ts for businesses when looking into the background of prospective employees or current staff up for promotion, retention, transfer, etc. But if it’s time for a compliance double-check, the FTC just issued a new brochure that could serve as a cross-reference.

The road to Rich’s?

For companies that follow what’s going on at the FTC, a letter with the agency seal signed by “FTC Director Jessica Rich” might attract attention. But there’s one letter that claims to be from the FTC that we suggest you ignore.

That’s because the sender says you’ve won a sweepstakes and Jessica Rich of the FTC will help you claim the cash – after you pay a $5,000 “Legal Registration Bond,” of course.

What’s truthful about those letters? There is a person at the FTC named Jessica Rich. As it happens, she heads up the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.