Business Blog

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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.

Clothes call

Even people unfamiliar with the FTC carry with them virtually ever hour of the day a little reminder from America’s consumer protection agency. It’s the care label included on most things they wear — and the FTC is asking for feedback on its future from consumers, members of the apparel and textile industry, people in the cleaning business, and others.

Closed encounters of the third kind

Savvy executives like to stay in the loop on FTC activities that could affect their industry.   They make it a habit to scan the headlines or check for relevant workshops or reports.  But there’s a third category of information a bit less understood: closing letters from BCP staff.

In the spirit of transparency, the agency posts them online.  Here in the BCP Business Center, recent letters appear in the Compliance Documents section of each topic area.

Throwing the book at 'em

A fax comes through at the office looking like it’s a form to re-up your existing phone directory listing.  It includes information about your business, a “Yellow Page ID number,” and a familiar “walking fingers” logo.  The fax, not addressed to any particular person or department in your company, instructs the recipient to sign and send the form back by an impending deadline.  Buried in fine print is the only indication the fax is really a solicitation for new business.

Handle with care

If there were a master list of topics that need to be addressed gingerly, death and debt would rank at the top.  For debt collectors attempting to collect the debts of a deceased consumer, a recent policy statement issued by the FTC addresses changes in state probate procedures and emphasizes debt collectors’ obligation to make sure they’re acting within the law.

Swish Marketing decision nets consumers $4.8 million

Thinking about using a pre-checked box to obligate buyers in an online transaction?  Maybe you’re considering a negative option arrangement without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the details of the deal.  Or perhaps you’re an affiliate marketer who’s concluded that legal compliance is somebody else’s responsibility.  A $4.8 million judgment entered by a federal court in California suggests you might want to reconsider those strategies.

Demystifying the art of the deal

As businesses executives have noticed, recent changes in the credit laws reflect a move toward more transparency. For example, it’s generally lawful to factor a consumer’s credit history into your decision about what rate to offer them. But last year, the FTC and Federal Reserve Board shed a little more light on that process by implementing the Risk-Based Pricing Rule.

FCRA at 40: It's a matter of interpretation

They say life begins at 40 — so watch what’s happening to the Fair Credit Reporting Act as it enters an exciting new phase of its regulatory career.

To mark this consumer protection milestone, the FTC has issued Forty Years of Experience with the Fair Credit Reporting Act: An FTC Staff Report and Summary of Interpretations.  The report offers a brief overview of the FTC’s role in enforcing and interpreting the FCRA and includes a section-by-section summary of the agency’s interpretations of the Act.

$108 million for homeowners in distress

Homeowners in financial trouble aren’t getting a lot of great news these days.  But 450,177 of them will be getting a check in the mail that represents their share of the FTC’s $108 million settlement with mortgage giant Countrywide. And companies that take advantage of Americans struggling to pay the bills will be getting a little something, too:  a strong message from the FTC that unfair or deceptive practices targeting cash-strapped consumers won’t be tolerated.

Accounts deceivable

Perhaps you see cops on the beat when they pass by your office. Maybe you serve on a committee with the Chief of Police or have a relative in the Sheriff’s Department. However you cross paths with local law enforcement, do them — and yourself — a favor by telling them about Consumer Sentinel.

Modifying the orbit of MARS, but not protections for consumers

Today, the FTC announced it won't enforce most parts of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule against real estate brokers and their agents who help consumers with short sales. A short sale — a phrase consumers have heard a lot recently — is the sale of a home for less than the homeowner owes on the mortgage, and where the bank accepts the sale proceeds instead of foreclosing.

Candid spamera

Say “spam” and most business executives think of annoying messages that litter their IN box.  But the CAN-SPAM Act and the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Rule cover a much broader range of commercial email.  Yes, that includes messages offering to split $50 million languishing in the foreign bank account of a deposed prince.  But the Rule also applies to a wide variety of communications with customers or potential customers — for example, an email notifying them about a product you’re featuring or an upcoming sale.

Get FTC news and updates your way

Last week, Facebook announced new video calling and group chat services for the social network. That same afternoon, the President of the United States held a town hall on Twitter to talk about the economy and jobs in America. Today, people have many methods to communicate, often right at the tips of their fingers.  That’s why the FTC has introduced a new STAY CONNECTED feature on ftc.gov.

Room with review

Is your briefcase feeling lighter? That’s because your dog-eared copy of Volume 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations (where most FTC rules and guides live) is decidedly thinner these days. For the past two decades, the agency has undertaken a systematic review of its rules and guides to make sure they’re up to date, effective, and not overly burdensome. As each rule comes up for review, we ask ourselves — and you — four questions:

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