Business Blog


The truth is out there

Earlier this week was the 66th anniversary of the so-called Roswell UFO incident.  No, Mulder and Scully aren't on temporary assignment to the FTC and we don’t have any “now it can be told” government news on the subject.  But we can offer insights into what happening on MARS:  the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule.  As X Files fans would say, "The truth is out there," but one place it appears to be lacking is in promotions making overhyped promises to homeowners in financial trouble.

Saluting Military Consumer Protection Day

Members of the military face unique consumer protection challenges.  For example, when the brakes go or the basement floods, it’s not easy to find trustworthy local businesses if you’re new in town.  And deployments, TDYs, and relocations can make it tougher to spot the early signs of identity theft.  So what can your business do to make things easier for military families?

When all is said and dun: Record-setting penalty for debt collection violations

"You’ve reached the FTC.  Sorry we’re not able to take your call right now.  But if you’re Expert Global Solutions — the biggest debt collection operation in the world — please pay a $3.2 million civil penalty, the largest ever from a third-party debt collector, and start honoring the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Oh, and at the sound of the tone, please don’t leave a voicemail illegally disclosing that a person owes money."  BEEP.

New suite of resources can streamline COPPA compliance

Who should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the collection of personal information online from kids under 13?  That’s easy:  Parents.  To keep up with technology, the FTC revised the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule last year.  As a result, some companies that may not have given COPPA much thought in the past are covered as of today — the July 1st effective date of the revised Rule.  To streamline your responsibilities, the FTC has a suite of compliance tools designed with business in mind.

FTC's record-setting Do Not Call settlement: 4 tips for business and one candid suggestion

Yesterday’s 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry was a good time to reflect on a decade of progress.  But to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson (or Patrick Henry, Irish statesman John Philpot Curran, or whoever else said it), eternal vigilance is the price of an uninterrupted dinner hour.  A record-setting $7.5 million settlement with a national mortgage broker demonstrates the FTC’s commitment to the fight agains

10 years of National Do Not Call: Looking back and looking ahead

To etiquette purists, the 10th anniversary dictates gifts of metal.  So to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry, the FTC presents this iron-clad guarantee:  You can count on us to continue to take action against companies that violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, as today’s $7.5 million civil penalty — the largest ever collected in an FTC Do Not Call case — demonstrates.

FTC staff to search engines: Differentiate ads from natural results

When users type something into a search engine and hit enter, what shows up on the screen next?  Is it the natural result of their search or is it advertising?  If they get natural results and ads, is it clear to consumers which is which?  Following up on efforts to update guidance to digital advertisers, including revisions to .com Disclosures and the

Telemarketing violations? Court ruling suggests distance, not assistance

The Telemarketing Sales Rule outlaws a variety of deceptive practices.  But liability isn’t limited just to the companies that place the calls or the marketers that hire them.  It’s also illegal to “provide substantial assistance or support” to a seller or telemarketer when you know or consciously avoid knowing they’re violating the Rule.  A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit unpacks that portion of the

Internet of Things: Same topic, new date

If you have a really smart smart device, it’s probably already told you.  But here’s the news anyway:  The new date for the FTC’s Internet of Things workshop is November 19, 2013.  The workshop will cover the consumer protection implications now that everyday devices have started to communicate with us and with each other.  To quote SNL’s Linda Richman, “Tawk amongst ya-selves” about how to weigh the privacy and security risks against po

Last resort

Three FTC cases, 83 civil actions brought by 28 states, more than 184 defendants facing criminal charges in cases filed by federal and local prosecutors, and 25 actions brought by agencies in 10 other countries.  If you’re unclear on whether law enforcers are presenting a united front against travel-related fraud, then we have some oceanfront property to sell you.

"I read the news today, oh boy"

There's "Life of Pi" and "Life of Brian," Boswell’s “Life of Samuel Johnson,” the sitcom “Life of Riley,” and the Beatles’ ground-breaking “A Day in the Life.”   We view Life of a Debt: Data Integrity in Debt Collection, a roundtable hosted by the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as pretty ground-breaking, too.  And the topic — the flow of consumer data through the debt collection process — should attract the interest of your clients in the financial field.

Mom, Home, and Mobile Security

Is there a more "apple pie” issue than mobile security?  It’s hard to come up with one.  That’s because a safe environment for mobile commerce is critical to the continued growth of that marketplace — and because you haven’t torn yourself away from your mobile device since you huffed and puffed to the Spice Girls at step aerobics class in ’99.

Possible changes loom for FTC's Textile Rules

Never let it be said that the FTC doesn’t have your back — or sleeve, cuff, waistband, or wherever else you find the label that discloses the kind of fabric a product is made of.  If your business touches on textiles, you’re familiar with the requirements of the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the FTC’s accompanying Textile Rules.  Are you in the loop

Calling for comments about proposed changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule

We’re not one to loft accolades in the direction of fraudulent telemarketers, but we’ll say this about them:  They’re a quick study when it comes to using new technologies and business methods to their shady advantage.  As part of its ongoing effort to protect consumers from deceptive telemarketing, the FTC is proposing amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule that would curtail the use of certain kinds of payments that have become fast favorites among fraudsters.


We've been patient.  It's been years since "Star Wars" came out and we still don't have a gold-plated droid to do our bidding.  But companies have introduced a slew of "smart" products that perform a lot of the same functions.

Take a letter

Today’s Business Blog post is brought to you by the letters C-O-P-P-A. If your website or online service is covered by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, you’re readying your business for the changes that go into effect on July 1, 2013. For the benefit of those looking for a compliance refresher, the FTC just sent out letters to more than 90 companies that may be affected by the revision to the Rule.