Business Blog

Remembering Virginia Knauer

Next time you’re at the grocery store and flip around a package to check out the ingredients or calorie count, take the opportunity to remember the contribution of Virginia Knauer, who served Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan in high-level consumer affairs positions.

Ms. Knauer held some pretty daring opinions in her day.  At a time when sellers of dog food — but not people food — had to disclose what was inside the package, she advocated for detailed product labeling.

Stars, stripes – and scams

Between the picture of the President and Vice-President standing in front of the American flag and the references to government funds to stabilize the economy, it’s understandable that people who signed up for the service advertised on the Grant Connect website thought they were on their way to landing a grant.  Promoters even described Grant Connect as “a unique, consumer-friendly US government grant program that delivers all of the tools for the consumer to search multiple databases, write grant proposals, and deliver polished plans. . .”

Reader discretion advised

It’s unusual for an FTC court document to come with a warning label, but the allegations contained in a recent debt collection case against an outfit doing business as Rumson, Bolling & Associates aren’t for the faint of heart.  According to the FTC, the defendants harassed debtors with abusive and profane language, including threats to harm their family members, kill their pets, and desecrate the bodies of their deceased loved ones.  And that’s just for starters.

(De)fault lines

When people get the latest software, app, or gizmo, it comes with default settings configured by the company responsible for the product. The FTC’s settlement with Frostwire, a developer of free peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software, raises interesting issues for industry. When can a company’s choice of default settings amount to an unfair practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act? And when can a company’s representations about default settings be considered deceptive?

Our favorite things

Like Maria in The Sound of Music, brown paper packages tied up with strings are a few of our favorite things. So it's no surprise that catalog and online shopping has become a time saving essential for millions of Americans.

FTC 86s LOAN MOD TXTS

FTC watchers will remember Phillip A. Flora.  In the first case of its kind, the FTC alleged that Mr. Flora was a One-Man Message Machine, churning out a “mind-boggling” number of unsolicited commercial text messages pitching mortgage modification services.  How many did he send?  According to the FTC, <Carl Sagan voice> millions and millions </Carl Sagan voice>.

Businesses: New rules for electronic payments take effect October 1st

If you or your clients accept payment by credit or debit card, mark October 1st on your calendar.  That’s the day new rules go into effect that could help lower your costs. The rules, part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, cover four areas that could affect the day-to-day operation of your business.

The Reebok settlement: What the FTC order means for advertisers and retailers

The FTC’s settlement with Reebok requires the company to get their ad claims in shape and works out a $25 million refund program for people who bought EasyTone and RunTone shoes and apparel. Of course, the terms of the lawsuit apply only to Reebok, but experienced advertisers understand the benefits of mining FTC orders for compliance nuggets applicable to their business.

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.

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