Why do companies sell “miracle” diet pills and potions, promising results that defy the laws of physics? Why do consumers buy them? And what is the FTC doing about it? Those are just some of the topics on the agenda at a congressional hearing today. If you have clients that sell weight loss products or if you represent media outlets that run those ads, you’ll want to
If you follow this blog, you know we try to catch readers’ eye with a turn of phrase in the title. But when one of the defendant companies is named Bullroarer – and the FTC’s complaint alleges a massive mobile cramming scam – sometimes these posts just write themselves. The settlement with Lin Miao, who ran the operation, is worth the attention of tech entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with the breadth of remedies available to protect consumers.
The headline read ZIP. ZERO. NADA. In big print, the ads also said 0 money down* and 0 for paid closing costs*. Heritage Homes didn’t include ZILCH, BUPKES, or (for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans) THE BIG GOOSE EGG, but the FTC says the meaning to prospective buyers was clear. So how much truth was in that across-the-board “zero” claim? According to the FTC’s complaint: Zip. Zero. Nada.
If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s only a matter of time. You walk into a room – say, to get your sunglasses – and then can’t remember why you’re there. So it’s no wonder that claims for BrainStrong Adult, a dietary supplement advertised on TV, online, and through an active social media presence, caught consumers’ eye. Ads said that Brain Strong Adult “helps protect against normal cognitive decline as we age” and is “clinically shown to improve memory.” But acc
It’s an illegal pyramid scheme. That’s the conclusion reached by a federal appellate court in upholding a trial judge’s ruling in an FTC action challenging a multi-level marketing business operated by BurnLounge, Inc. If you have clients in the business opportunity arena, the opinion is a must-read.
It’s not like us to suggest you read someone else’s mail, but the FTC has sent letters that your clients might want to know about.
Sometimes good things come in threes, like Musketeers, Bronte sisters, and Stooges. (Shemp doesn’t count.) But the FTC’s complaint against Consumer Portfolio Services charges the company with three distinct sets of violations – unlawful auto loan servicing, illegal debt collection, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Furnisher Rule – all of which spelled triple trouble for consumers. But there’s relief on the way in the form of a
Dare us to describe the legal ramifications of a recent advertising settlement involving health claims in the style of a cringeworthy rap from 1990? Cue up the bass line ‘cause here we go.
Type “big data” into a search engine and you’ll get more than 300 million results. Consider the amount of personal information actually in the hands of data brokers and add a string of zeroes to that. There are lots of valid purposes for using that data – verifying identity and detecting fraud, to name just two – but let’s face it: It’s an industry that operates primarily behind closed doors. To shed light on what’s going on, the FTC conducted an in-depth study
So a company is going great guns and collects massive amounts of personal information from consumers with the express promise it won’t share it with third parties. Stuff happens and the company finds itself in Bankruptcy Court. If you followed the FTC action in Toysmart or read the letters regarding Borders and
As news about the eBay hack hits the media, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. If your small business has a presence on eBay – or even if you’re just an occasional buyer or seller – consider taking these six steps.
We like solving puzzles – from crosswords and anagrams to that byzantine conspiracy wall constructed by Claire Danes' character on "Homeland." So it doesn't faze FTC staff when companies use complicated corporate structures to hide what they're up to. Those skills came in handy in unraveling how debt collector Asset & Capital Management Group and its host of related businesses were violating Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The prize for untangling this puzzle:
We try to keep a sense of humor about lawyer jokes, but given the harm to consumers, it's no laughing matter when debt collectors mimic attorneys. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the FTC Act establish that it's illegal for debt collectors to falsely claim to be attorneys or to suggest a bogus connection to law enforcement. An FTC settlement with an outfit called Goldman Schwartz and related companies puts the whole kit and kaboodle out of
Promotional materials and live presentations for Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing used a lot of organizational jargon to recruit new people. The first step: Shell out start-up fees and monthly charges. Next: Recruit enough “independent reps” so you can work your way up through the ranks to Regional Sales Manager, Executive Sales Manager, National Sales Manager, Platinum Sales Manager, and ultimately “Presidential Ambassador.” But the FTC and the State AGs of Illinois, Kentucky and North Carolina have another term for FHTM’s convoluted system of recruiting and compensation:
The company name may be American Apparel, but commerce is global, especially in the fashion industry. If a business says it abides by the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor for transferring consumer data, companies have an obligation to live up to that promise. American Apparel, the popular clothing retailer, is the latest company to be the subject of FTC law enforcement for claiming it was in compliance with the framework, but failing to conduct the required annual self-ce
A mobile app that lets users send photo and video messages that recipients can look at for a moment before the content is, in effect, gone with the wind? Scarlett O’Hara could have declared her love for Rhett Butler (or Ashley Wilkes), confident that the message was ephemeral. Of course, residents of Tara didn’t have access to the popular app Snapchat, which claimed to do just that. But according to an FTC settlement, the company’s promise that Snapchat m
The FTC isn’t in a position to evaluate your latest cholesterol results, and no, we can’t tell you if that looks infected. But we’d still like to hear your health questions – your questions about consumer generated and controlled health data, that is. That’s the topic of an FTC seminar from 10:00 ET to noon on Wednesday, May 7, 201
If your business involves textiles, you’re familiar with the requirements of the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the FTC’s accompanying Rules. But are you in the loop on changes that take effect today – May 5, 2014 – that could give you more flexibility with compliance? In addition to reviewing the revised Rules, you’ll want to read the FTC’s updated publication, Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts, t
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano and the umpire yelling “Play ball!” on Opening Day, there’s another inevitable harbinger of spring: ads for bogus products promising easy weight loss just in time for bathing suit season. But this year, media outlets have a new tool for spotting false claims before they’re published or aired – and before consumers risk their money (and maybe even their health) on a worthless pill, potion, belt, cream, or whatever. If you or your clients run ads for weight loss products, it’s time for a gut check.
In a lot of schools, kids are more likely to be looking at screens than at blackboards. One advantage: fewer annoying chalk squeaks. Of course, the benefits of the connected classroom go far beyond that. But educators, administrators, and parents have been asking an important question: How do the protections of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the accompanying FTC rule apply in the school setting?