October 2018

Listen in on how sellers pitched business “coaching” services

One of the Utah-based defendants’ corporate names was Vision Solution Marketing, but you need to hear their sales pitch to get a sense of how they peddled their big-money “business coaching” services to consumers. In addition to imposing multi-million dollar judgments, FTC settlements ban the defendants for life from selling business coaching or development services. But you really should listen to these phone calls.

The “law” of averages: FTC challenges SoFi’s student loan refinancing claims

Imagine a baseball scout is taking a look at a prospect. On paper, the slugger’s batting average seems impressive. But now imagine that, unbeknownst to the scout, those stats left out all the times the batter struck out. It’s an unrealistic hypothetical, of course, but it illustrates the principle that in compiling averages, removing certain categories of data can skew the results.

Cybersecurity for small business: Cybersecurity basics

As a small business owner, you know that cyber criminals will steal data any place they can find it, whether it’s from a global giant or a Main Street store. So where can you find just-the-facts security advice tailored to your needs? At ftc.gov/cybersecurity. The FTC has boiled it down to a dozen need-to-know topics for small businesses and we’ll address one each week in the Business Blog.

Share cybersecurity resources with non-profits in your community

Do you work for a non-profit? Or maybe you’re on the board of a charity or active in a professional or service organization in your community. If so, you know the group collects all sorts of private information, including details about members or people you serve and financial information related to donors. Your own personal information, too, is probably in the group’s records of employees and volunteers. Cyber criminals would love to get their hands on that data.

Stemming unproven stem cell therapy claims

Old West nostrum sellers used to market treatments for a broad range of diseases with the slogan “Good for what ails ya.” California-based Regenerative Medical Group used a current buzzword in science – stem cell therapy – to peddle what they claimed were treatments for conditions as varied as cerebral palsy and autism to Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and macular degeneration.

Cybersecurity resources for your small business

Small businesses are concerned about ransomware, email imposters, and other common cyber threats. So FTC staff hosted roundtables to ask business owners what we can do to help. You came from different parts of the country and different economic sectors, but your answers were consistent and you didn’t mince words: 1) You want straightforward advice that’s easy to implement; and 2) You want consistent guidance from the different federal agencies that deal with cyber threats and data security.

$3 million FCRA settlement puts tenant background screening at the forefront

When people are looking to rent a house or apartment, the most important “screening” isn’t on the windows of the prospective new place. It’s the tenant background screening that goes on behind the scenes, the results of which can make the difference between home sweet home and homeless.

The gift of data – and a few words about gift cards

When people take a moment to report fraud, identity theft, or questionable business practices to the FTC, they’re giving consumers everywhere a “gift” of sorts. We use those reports – we get millions every year – to warn others about the latest scams. They also serve as an important source of information for our law enforcement efforts.

FTC sues American Immigration Center for claiming false government affiliation

When the FTC warns consumers about government imposter scams, we’re usually referring to bogus calls that falsely claim to come from the IRS or some other official office. But as a case just announced by the FTC demonstrates, that’s not the only kind of false government affiliation that can deceive consumers.

Car dealer and marketing firm called out for bogus recall notices

Here’s something likely to make consumers start firing on all cylinders: receiving an “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” in the mail with a “warning” that their vehicle “may be under an important factory/safety recall.” But according to an FTC lawsuit against the Passport group of car dealerships in the Washington, D.C., area, the vast majority of people who received those notices didn’t have a vehicle subject to an open recall.

Anti-scammy Sammy

There’s former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar, NFL legend Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, and the incomparable Sammy Davis, Jr. All notable in their own right, but did they win back $586 million for defrauded consumers? We didn’t think so. That’s why we have another pick for the Sammy Hall of Fame.