If there’s one theme that runs through decades of FTC law, it’s that companies need consumers’ informed consent to bill their accounts. That was true in the early days of mail order. It carried through to online shopping. And it remains the law for mobile devices, including in-app purchases. The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges the company didn’t honor that elementary principle.
It was an all-too-common occurrence. People’s mobile phone bills included unexplained – and unauthorized – monthly charges. It’s called cramming and the FTC has brought a series of cases against companies that had fees for ringtones, horoscopes, “love tips,” etc., placed on cell phone bills without consumers’ consent. The crammers took a chunk of the cash, but you might be surprised to learn who the FTC says pocketed a 35-40% piece of the action. A just-filed lawsuit pulls back the curtain on
When ads for beauty products convey subjective claims – for example, L’Oréal’s long-standing “Because I’m worth it” tagline – it’s unlikely consumers would think statements like that are supported by science. (It’s hard to imagine a testing protocol that could establish whether or not we’re worth it.) But flip through a magazine and it’s apparent that test tubes are overtaking powder puffs in how some cosmetics are marketed. When companies tout the scientific research behind their advertising or say their products have been “clinically proven,” those claims – like any other objective re
Ahab hunts big fish.
Captain and whaling boat sink.
Sometimes you want to read all 209,117 words of Moby Dick. Other times a haiku will do. Sometimes you want an in-depth analysis of the FTC’s enforcement, rulemaking, research, education, and international efforts related to privacy and data security. Other times a summary will suffice.
Hey, Rachel the Robocaller. Every month we get 150,000 complaints about you and your robocalling besties. We’ve sued dozens of them. We’ve sponsored a national challenge to make your life harder. But this time, Rach, the gloves are off. We’re going DEF CON on you and we’re launching a particularly powerful surface-to-robocall missile with your name on it.
When comparing products made of plastic lumber – picnic tables, benches, trash bins, and the like – many consumers and businesses factor in environmental considerations. So when California-based American Plastic Lumber suggested its products were made virtually entirely out of post-consumer recycled content like milk jugs and detergent bottles, it’s understandable that shoppers would take note. But according to the FTC, buyers didn’t get the benefit they bargai
It’s called CROA – the Credit Repair Organizations Act – and it was put in place to protect people battling their way back from financial adversity. Given the long history of questionable practices in this sector, CROA makes it illegal to charge people upfront before services are rendered. It also bans misleading statements to credit bureaus about consumers’ credit records. There’s been lots of talk about the harm posed by false negative information in credit reports. But in an interesting twist,
The Department of Justice recently announced a multinational law enforcement effort to disrupt the Gameover Zeus Botnet. What is it and why should your company care?
Gameover Zeus is malware designed to steal banking and other credentials from home and business computers. Once infected, a computer becomes part of a global network of compromised computers known as a botnet. Criminals use botnets to carry out illegal activity – like sending spam and spreading malware.
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: