Business Blog

Patent (s)pending

If necessity is the mother of invention, bogus invention promotion companies are the sketchy brothers-in-law. That’s why inventors who think they may have that Next Big Thing should investigate thoroughly before signing on with a firm that promises to evaluate, patent, and market an innovation. Some make pie-in-the-sky promises, but serve up crumbs.

Imitation is the sincerest form of falsity

According to the Consumer Services Protection Commission’s website, it’s a “National consumer protection agency and works For the Consumer to help avoid fraud, deception, and/or unfair business practices in the financial assistance marketplace.” The site went on to talk about the agency’s role in enforcing the law and educating consumers about how to “spot and avoid fraud and deception.” On the right was a blue and gold logo with the scales of justice and the winged wheel of commerce.

OnGuardOnline: On Target for Your Business

If you’re reading this, then you appreciate that a government site can offer timely information, relevant analysis and — on a good day — maybe even a little wit.  And your business probably has an interest in data protection, computer security or online marketing.  Today, what business doesn’t?  So check out OnGuardOnline.gov. The federal government’s site to help you be safe, secure and responsible online has a new blog, a new look, and a few new features.

Truth in app-vertising

Here’s how AcneApp and Acne Pwner were supposed to work.  Buyers downloaded the apps from their favorite app store.  After selecting a light — blue to fight bacteria or red to heal, some ads said — they rested their smartphone against their skin.

Second Circuit unpacks law of financial remedies

According to the ads, if you “carry on with your normal lifestyle” while wearing the Bio-Slim Patch, “repulsive, excess ugly fatty tissue will disappear at a spectacular rate.” (And by you, we don’t mean you, of course.)  Promotions for Chinese Diet Tea promised similar miracles: “eliminates an amazing 91% of absorbed sugars,” “prevents 83% of fat absorption,” and “doubles your metabolic rate to burn calories faster.”

New tool for back-to-school

It used to be that the biggest issues at back-to-school time were finding everything on the school supplies list and remembering who likes the crusts cut off the brown bag PB&J.  But nowadays, responsible adults need to consider the risks if children’s personal information — like a Social Security number on a registration form, permission slip, or health document — winds up in the wrong hands. When kids are victims of identity theft, the crime may go undetected for years.  But by the time they’re old enough to get a job or apply for a student loan, the damage has been done.

Right on the money

Two announcements today underscore a key FTC enforcement priority:  getting money back for people deceived by companies’ illegal practices.

More than 110,000 refund checks totaling about $1.9 million are in the mail to loan applicants who were tricked into paying for a separate debit card through a misleading pre-checked box on an online form. According to the FTC, Swish Marketing, Inc., and VirtualWorks LLC came up with the promotion.  Both companies — and five of their corporate officers — were held liable.

Relief pitching?

“You can settle your credit card debt for pennies on the dollar without filing for bankruptcy.”

For people struggling to stay afloat, Debt Relief USA’s national TV ads must have seemed like a lifeline.  When consumers called the company, representatives assured them that low monthly payments to Debt Relief USA would cover both the settlement of their reduced debts and the company’s fees. For the service to work, said the reps, people had to stop making payments to their creditors — and stop talking to them at all.

Linking, liking, and loading

OK, now that it’s just us, here’s a reminder that most resources in the BCP Business Center are in the public domain. Thus, according to 17 U.S.C. § 105, they’re not subject to copyright restrictions. (Sorry for the citation. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.)  So you’re free to download, link, paste, tweet, like, dislike, and otherwise use FTC materials.

Mag-Moss rule review: Is it warranty-ed?

These days many shoppers wouldn’t think of buying a product without checking if it comes with a written warranty.  And companies in it for the long haul understand the importance of living up to their promises if something goes kablooey.  But that wasn’t always the case.  It wasn’t until 1975 — when Congress passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act — that federal teeth were added to consumer warranty protections.

"Rule clean up on Aisle 16!"

You or your clients are in the grocery business and customers are lined up to take advantage of an advertised special. Great news — as long as the stock on hand meets their demand. But if it doesn’t, the FTC’s Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule — known to its friends as the Unavailability Rule — kicks in.

Trash or treasure?

Maybe your IT staff has sold you on the benefits of new computers.  Or perhaps you plan to replace the clunker in the rumpus room in anticipation of the upcoming school year — and it includes your “homework” from the office or personal data like financial information or family Social Security numbers.

Of course, you’ll do your research before investing in a new system.  But have you thought about how to securely dispose of your old computer?  Before you log off for the last time, make sure your tech trash doesn’t become a fraudster’s treasure.

Pages