Business Blog

BCP’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation: The next generation in consumer protection

The FTC keeps its finger on the pulse of markets, channeling its resources to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices involving new technologies. A few years ago, we created the Mobile Technology Unit to help bring consumer protection into the mobile era. Staffers assist the Bureau of Consumer Protection and FTC regions with law enforcement investigations and lend their expertise to the development of consumer protection policy.

Peace, love, and understanding

“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?” Elvis Costello asked that musical question back in the day. The Memorandum of Understanding between the FTC and CFPB – which the two agencies just reauthorized for a three-year period – shows that when it comes to protecting consumers, ensuring a vibrant marketplace for financial products and services, and using resources efficiently, we're in harmony.

When BOGO is a no-go

If you watch as much TV as we do, you may have been tempted to reach for the phone to order the Snuggie, that blanket with sleeves for couch potatoes; Forever Comfy, the answer to rump-sprung chairs; or a host of other items sold by New York-based Allstar Marketing Group. And if one Magic Mesh, Cat's Meow, Roto Punch, or Perfect Tortilla wasn’t enough, the ads reeled buyers in with a “double the offer” buy-one-get-one-free promotion the FTC and New York Attorney General said was misleading.

Cruisin’ for a TSR violation

Before your business cruises its way to violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), you’ll want to pay attention to the FTC’s latest case against telemarketers. The lesson: if the call includes a sales pitch, the TSR applies – no matter what other purpose the call may have.   

The Shipping News and Reviews

Consumers often first go to online review sites when they are thinking about buying a product or hiring a service provider. As a result, most businesses are concerned about managing their online reputation. But a recent FTC proposed settlement offers some lessons for businesses that seek to solicit online reviews with cash or other incentives.

Scientific substantiation: Take the right “app”roach

According to the National Cancer Institute, melanoma of the skin is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Many people want to keep an eye out for possible symptoms and take action fast, if necessary. So, could you make an app for that? Hmm, as “app”ealing as it sounds, hold the phone.

Law and Orders

Once you’re subject to an FTC order, if you do not comply with its provisions, there are consequences in addition to any you face for deceptive or misleading practices.  Violation of an order can pave the way for civil penalties.

On our list: Updating fair packaging and labeling rules

It was a new era for shoppers in the 1960s. Suburbs, malls and grocery stores boomed. Esso “put a tiger in your tank.” And unscrupulous marketers came up with some new tricks. It turns out that a “jumbo pound” weighed, you guessed it – one pound. Into the fray entered the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), signed into law in 1966. 

Location, location, location

Does your app collect users’ locations? Is that happening even when they’re not using the app?  Savvy developers understand the importance of giving consumers a clear picture of what’s going on. The FTC has advice on making your practices more transparent.

Debt collection recollection

As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. That’s so true when it comes to the thorny issues surrounding debt collection practices. Unlawful debt collection practices are a long-standing source of consumer complaints.  So, it only makes sense to have two cops on the beat; the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau work together to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and keep debt collection practices lawful.

POM v. FTC: A dozen quotable quotes from the D.C. Circuit opinion

POM Wonderful’s advertising claims were false and deceptive. That’s the conclusion of the United States Court of Appeals in upholding the FTC’s ruling. We think it’s a momentous victory for our two clients: American consumers and the cause of truth in the marketplace. You’ll want to read the entire opinion, of course, but here are twelve quotes from the D.C.

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