Business Blog

Milking cookies: The FTC's $22.5 million settlement with Google

There’s been a lot of talk about breaking records these past few weeks.  But here’s one you won’t see on the sports pages:  the FTC’s $22.5 million settlement with Google, the largest civil penalty ever against a single defendant.  The penalty stems from FTC charges that Google didn’t give users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser the straight story about the use of tracking cookies.  That, says the FTC, violated the terms of Google’s 2011 privacy settlement.

Pets, Vets, and Retail Outlets

Last year, U.S. pet owners spent over $50 billion on their pets.  That’s a lot of puppy chow, chew toys, and rhinestone collars.  But it also reflects significant expenditures for pet health products and services, including veterinary office visits and medicines.  In fact, in 2011 American consumers spent nearly $7 billion on pet medications alone. 

Plastics, Benjamin

“I just want to say one word to you, Benjamin.  Plastics.”

During the cocktail party scene in the classic movie “The Graduate,” that’s the advice Ben Braddock got for mapping out his future.  It wasn’t such a bad tip after all since so much stuff — including the pocket money we use for day-to-day expenditures — has gone plastic.

Identity Protection: It's Everybody's Business

Identity theft has been the top complaint that consumers have reported to the FTC for 12 years in a row.  We’ve also heard from companies that ID theft can cause huge headaches in the form of unauthorized charges, worthless receivables, and customer service snafus.  That’s why business executives should be at the forefront in the drive for identity protection.

Pressed for time

It’s not an easy time to be a timeshare owner.  And the last thing they need is a company making false promises that corporate buyers and renters are clamoring for their timeshares — if owners will just pony up a “registration fee” between $500 and $2,000.  According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC and Florida AG, that’s what was going on with an Orlando-based outfit called Information Management Forum.

In praise of Toby Flenderson

HR could use better PR.   Say "human resources" and some people think of Dunder Mifflin’s joy-deficient Toby Flenderson from "The Office."  But you know better and appreciate the job your HR team does to keep your organization up and running.  They're also a critical line of defense between your company and the onslaught of data thieves and scammers.  The BCP Business Center has a special page to make their job a little easier.

Court finds litany of violations in alcoholism "cure" case

People who signed up with the Jacksonville-based Alcoholism Cure Corporation were promised a “scientifically proven” program that “cures alcoholism while allowing alcoholics to drink socially.”  What they got was a shopping list, instructions to take handfuls of unproven supplements, and a particularly troubling surprise when they tried to cancel their membership.

Robocop?

Consumer complaints about robocalls have multiplied.  New technologies make it cheaper to send pre-recorded messages and con artists have gotten trickier about obscuring the origin of their calls.  But businesses shouldn’t be tempted to take telemarketing short-cuts because the FTC is cracking down on illegal robocalls.

Following through

Ask any golfer.  How you address the ball matters, but don’t underestimate the importance of the follow-through.  In law enforcement, too, follow-through can be key.  A recent development in the FTC’s action involving Neil Wardle illustrates that point.

Two little words

Unless you’re playing Scrabble and use QI or ZA on a triple letter square, two-letter words usually don’t count for much.  A consumer perception study released by the FTC suggests that two common two-letter words often used in ads may not have the effect of qualifying product claims that some marketers and copywriters think they have.  Any guess what those words are?

Up to.

FTC lodges complaint against Wyndham

The FTC's law enforcement action against hotel company Wyndham Worldwide Corporation and three of its subsidiaries alleges that a series of security breaches — three within two years — resulted in fraudulent charges, millions of dollars in fraud loss, and the export of hundreds of thousands of people's account information to an Internet domain address registered in Russia.  According to the lawsuit, a number of the defendants' practices, taken together, unreasonably and unnecessarily exposed consumers' personal data, including their cre

Check that check

At the BCP Business Center, we offer tips on how to stay on the right side of the law.  But we also do our best to spread the word about the latest frauds targeting businesses — and this one’s a piece of work.  If your company accepts checks or online payments, you’ll want to be on the look-out for a scam that could leave you with a stack of worthless paper.

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