Business Blog

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Back to business #3: Looking for small business financing?

It’s exciting to see so many “open” signs appearing in store windows across the country. But some companies making the transition to an in-person workplace may find themselves in a short-term cash flow crunch. Even before the pandemic, the FTC raised concerns about deceptive practices related to small business financing. With many companies working to regain their footing, the FTC has tips on protecting yourself when looking for financing.

Back to business #1: Where’s your data?

As many companies shift to an in-person workplace, you and your employees face the opportunities and challenges of the new new normal. Today is the first in a five-part Back to Business blog series to help ease the transition back to the office, including steps you can take to reduce the risk that COVID scammers, data thieves, and financial fraudsters will follow you there. One consideration for companies: assuring you’re in control of sensitive information.

Helping you answer consumers’ privacy questions

Even for people who work on the most arcane frontiers of technology, there is a line of questioning that leaves them scratching their heads wondering where to begin. It’s when a colleague, friend, or family member asks “OK, Mr. or Ms. Tech Guru. I read a scary article about online privacy. What should I do to protect myself?” or “I just bought this nifty smart device. How can I use it safely?” The FTC has a new resource to help you answer those questions.

FTC and FDA warn marketers about fertility-related products

People facing infertility have a lot to think about in exploring the options available to them. But one thing that shouldn’t be on that list are unapproved products that make questionable claims to “treat” infertility. That’s the warning the FTC and the FDA have sent to companies that have pitched products to consumers searching for answers to what can be a complex medical condition.

Updating you on FTC privacy and data security initiatives

When it comes to consumer privacy and data security, your clients and colleagues want the word on what’s been happening at the FTC – and they want it in an accessible, to-the-point format. The agency’s 2020 Privacy and Data Security Update is ready for you to read, post, and share.

Enforcement

Building on decades of experience in consumer privacy and data security enforcement, the FTC announced a number of notable cases in 2020. Here are a few highlights:

An open statement about BCP closing letters

The FTC takes a practical approach to its mission of protecting America’s consumers. That typically means law enforcement actions to challenge companies’ unfair or deceptive acts or practices. But depending on the facts, we may supplement law enforcement with other methods, including consumer education, business guidance, warning letters, national workshops, reports, and – in limited circumstances – staff closing letters.

FTC and states challenge ISP Frontier’s speed claims

Like the fighter pilots in the 80s action flick “Top Gun,” consumers selecting among internet service providers “feel the need – the need for speed.” In a just-filed lawsuit, the FTC and seven law enforcement partners allege that ISP Frontier Communications Corporation has made misleading representations that it would provide consumers with certain internet service speeds.

Cryptocurrency investment scam reports at record level: 5 facts suggest caution

Thinking about adding cryptocurrency to your investment portfolio? The number of Americans investing in cryptocurrency has increased. But as a new FTC Consumer Protection Data Spotlight suggests, the number who report getting stung by cryptocurrency investment scams has skyrocketed.

$20 million settlement with smart home company Vivint shuts the door on a different form of identity deception

There’s a certain irony in the FTC’s record-setting $20 million settlement with Vivint Smart Home, a national seller of smart home technology platforms, including security devices and monitoring services. One purpose of the company’s products is to help residents ensure that people at their front door are who they say they are. But according to the FTC, Vivint engaged in some identity deception of its own.

Corporate boards: Don’t underestimate your role in data security oversight

For businesses in the middle of a global pandemic, there’s no such thing as “business as usual.” The percentage of Americans working remotely has grown substantially, now reportedly up to 33% of the U.S. workforce. Accompanying that seismic shift have been increased security threats to data, with one analysis reporting that over 36 billion online records were exposed in the first half of 2020 alone. Consumers whose lives have been upended by identity theft are paying close attention to how corporations are responding.

FTC says Yellowstone wasn’t faithful to claims it made to small businesses

Yellowstone – the majestic national park – is known for Old Faithful, roaming bison, and vistas to take your breath away. According to a 2020 FTC complaint, Yellowstone – the merchant cash advance provider – was unfaithful to its promises, buffaloed small business owners, and made illegal withdrawals that took their cash away. A settlement will return more than $9.8 million to customers and includes injunctive provisions to change how Yellowstone does business.

Aiming for truth, fairness, and equity in your company’s use of AI

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology promise to revolutionize our approach to medicine, finance, business operations, media, and more. But research has highlighted how apparently “neutral” technology can produce troubling outcomes – including discrimination by race or other legally protected classes. For example, COVID-19 prediction models can help health systems combat the virus through efficient allocation of ICU beds, ventilators, and other resources.

First FTC case filed under new COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act

Congress passed a law in December 2020 – the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act – that imposes monetary penalties on violators. The Department of Justice and the FTC just brought their first action under the statute, alleging that a Missouri chiropractor and his company violated both the new law and the FTC Act by deceptively marketing vitamin D and zinc products to treat or prevent COVID-19.

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