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Golden fleece?

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The Italian Job. The Lords of the Rings. The quest for gold is a common theme in action films. But for many consumers who sent money to Encino, California-based Discount Gold Brokers, a lawsuit filed by the FTC alleges that the adventure has turned into a horror movie.

Going to Chicago

You want to build data security into your product development pipeline, but what concrete steps should you take to put that into practice? You could sit down over coffee with executives from Fortune 500 companies, innovative start-ups, and leading security firms to download their expertise, but the cost could be substantial in time, access, and caffeine. The FTC has a better idea.

Cognition omission: FTC says LearningRx claims not supported by sound science

What’s on consumers’ minds is what’s between their ears. A proposed settlement with LearningRx, a Colorado-based franchisor with more than 80 “brain training” centers across the country, and CEO Ken Gibson is the latest in a growing line of FTC cases challenging false and deceptive claims about improved cognition.

The clear picture on complying with the FTC’s Eyeglass Rule

Seeing is believing. And last week, the FTC reminded eye doctors – in writing – about their legal responsibilities under the agency’s Eyeglass Rule. The rule requires you to provide a copy of the prescription to the patient at the end of the eye exam, even if the patient doesn’t request it. You  should also not ask patients if they want their prescription. The prescription should be given to them automatically.

I screen, you screen, we all screen: New FCRA brochure for background screening companies

Remember the old ad, “It’s a breath mint. It’s a candy mint. It’s two, two, two mints in one”? Or maybe the Saturday Night Live takeoff, “It’s a dessert topping and a floor wax!” It’s not unusual for something to do double duty. And if you’re in the business of compiling background information for employment purposes, you’re not just a background screening company. Chances are you’re also a consumer reporting agency subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Are your FCRA policies worth the paper they’re printed on?

In the words of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.” If your company provides information about consumers to credit bureaus, the law requires that you have written policies in place regarding the accuracy and integrity of that data. But are your policies worth the paper they’re printed on? That’s one of the issues presented in an FTC settlement with Dallas-based debt collector Credit Protection Association.

When your privacy certification is Asia-Pacific specific

The privacy framework for transatlantic exchanges of personal data between the EU and the United States has been in the headlines lately. But are you and your clients staying on top of your obligations on the Pacific side? If your company certifies its compliance with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross Border Privacy Rules, a proposed FTC settlement with Very Incognito Technologies serves as a reminder to honor those promises.

7 quotes of note from the Amazon decision

In Amazon’s Appstore, many apps geared toward kids prompted them to use fictitious currency, like a “boatload of doughnuts” or a “can of stars,” as part of game play. But a federal district court recently agreed with the FTC that Amazon’s practice of charging cold, hard cash for those imaginary items and billing parents and account holders without their express informed consent violates Section 5 of the FTC Act.

Supreme Court denies POM’s request to review ruling that ads were deceptive

Marketers have been watching the FTC’s challenge to POM Wonderful’s ad claims with interest. Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the company deceptively advertised that the products could treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. The D.C. Circuit also upheld the Commission’s finding that POM falsely claimed to have clinical proof to support those representations.

Don’t quit your day job: FTC sues education lead generator for bogus job application process

Everyone has a job hunting horror story. Ours is the rejection letter we got on a Friday for a job interview scheduled for the following Monday. But a job interview that’s really just a sales pitch, often conducted by software designed to mimic a real person? A lawsuit against Gigats is the latest FTC action targeting deceptive practices in the lead generation industry.

And the Partner Award goes to . . .

“Is it getting hot in here?” For companies that engage in illegal debt collection practices, the answer is a resounding yes. One reason is the unprecedented cooperative effort by federal and state law enforcers to turn up the heat on violators. There’s more to come, of course, but efforts like Operation Collection Protection prove that consumer protection agencies are stronger when we work together.

Keeping Up with the Online Advertising Industry

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down for some Q&A with members of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), one of the leading self-regulatory organizations for the online, interest-based advertising industry. One of the questions they posed was what additional actions industry should be taking to address online tracking as it develops ever more complex technologies. My answer? Tell people how they’re being tracked and offer them easy-to-use tools to block all of the techniques used to track them.

Cents and centsibility

Please don’t tell the other entries in the Code of Federal Regulations – we wouldn’t want to stir up jealousies – but Business Blog readers have probably detected our fondness for 16 C.F.R. § 304.

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