Business Blog

Time to kick the tires on the FTC’s Alternative Fuels Rule

We’re still waiting for George Jetson’s promised jetpacks, but car buyers have started to see transportation options not available just a few years ago.  That’s one reason the FTC has begun a review the Alternative Fuels Rule and seeks your input about the rule’s costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact.

Dot Com 2.0 (Does anybody say 2.0 anymore?)

Where were you in 2000?  Tooling around on your scooter listening to CDs by Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, and Creed?  Joining the 50 million Americans who watched the latest TV sensation “Survivor”?  Grateful the Y2K bug didn’t send us back to the Stone Age?  Reading Dot Com Disclosures:  Information About Online Advertising, the FTC’s first guidance document on how federal advertising laws apply to advertising and sales on the Internet?

Free means free, says the FTC

You can swim freestyle.  You can work freelance.  And there are those among us who still hold up lighters and yell “Play Free Bird.”  But for marketers, one thing you can’t do is advertise a product as free and then bill customers’ credit cards — not once and certainly not over and over and over again.

Six myths about filing comments with the FTC

You’ve seen the sentence when the FTC announces that it’s thinking about putting a new rule in place or changing what’s already on the books: “Interested parties are invited to submit comments. . . .”.  The alphabet soup of the administrative process can be a bit daunting at first: ANPR (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), FRN (Federal Register Notice), CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), SBP (Statement of Basis and Purpose). When it comes to the rulemaking process at the FTC, here are six common myths — and the straight scoop.

Is everything COPPA-setic on your site?

For some businesses, virtual worlds aren’t on their radar screen.  They have their hands full with this one, thanks.  But for more and more people — including kids — online virtual worlds have become a central place for gaming and other activities.  As the FTC’s recent $3 million settlement with Playdom and Howard Marks demonstrates, companies with an online presence need to take care to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the

Marketing food to kids: Continuing the conversation

By now, you’ve had a chance to read the proposed voluntary principles published on April 28, 2011, by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children.  Made up of representatives from the FTC, FDA, USDA, and CDC, the group issued a draft calling on the food industry voluntarily to step up its efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods they market directly to kids ages 2 to 17.  The proposal — which isn’t a regulation — suggests ways to strengthen the voluntary efforts that are already underway.

Nitro in the trunk?

The French movie classic “The Wages of Fear” — remade in 1977 as “The Sorcerer” by American director William Friedkin — was a taut thriller about a team of toughs transporting a payload of volatile nitroglycerine to a remote location in South America.  They meet with hazards along the way:  a rope bridge hanging by a thread over a flood-swollen river, a boulder blocking a twisted mountain path, and a stretch of road so pot-holed it’s called “The Washboard.”

Taken aback by a hack attack?

Busy business executives and the attorneys who represent them need to unwind now and then.  If PlayStation is your diversion-of-choice — or the choice of family members — you’ve probably heard the news that Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity service were hacked and that user data may have been compromised.  It’s not clear right now what info was stolen, but the services held user IDs and passwords, email addresses, birth dates, street addresses, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and payment histories.  Are you taking steps to reduce the risk of ID theft as a result of the hack? 

Food for thought

When browsing for a riveting read at the local bookstore, you might pick up a John Grisham or dive into a Stieg Larsson.  Unlike those best sellers, one author’s name that might not jump off the jacket is “Interagency Working Group.”  But in the case of the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children’s hot-off-the-presses Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts (try tweeting that) you really can’t judge a book by its cover.

Debt Collection 2.0

Cell phones, email, social media, auto-dialers, databases, and payment portals.  This ain’t your Father’s debt collection business.  That’s why an April 28, 2011, FTC workshop, Debt Collection 2.0:  Protecting Consumers as Technologies Change, will focus on the impact developments like these are having on the consumer debt collection system.  As the agenda shows, the conversation will center on how technologies affect debt collectors’ compliance with the law and the consumer protection concerns these new methods

Won't get fauxed again

If you haven’t seen the ads, you’ve probably been too busy listening to eight-tracks and playing Pong because billions — with a capital B — have been served up online. They look like news investigations about acai berry weight loss products conducted by independent journalists for reputable news outlets featuring the logos of national media and follow-up comments by satisfied consumers.

Cleaning up ad claims

Science, studies, and statistics. There’s a reason advertisers feature them so prominently. When used accurately, they can be powerful tools for distinguishing your product from the competitors. But scientific claims — especially health-related ones — need solid proof.

The FTC's settlement with Google: Part 4

Business practices at odds with promises in the company’s privacy policy. The failure to disclose adequately that the contacts with whom users emailed and chatted the most would become public by default. Confusing and hard-to-find controls to limit the sharing of personal info. False claims about adherence to the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor privacy framework.

Those were the allegations in the FTC’s complaint against Google. What changes will the agency’s proposed settlement bring about at the company?

Workshop to examine lottery, other money transfer scams

It may have happened to an employee, one of your customers, or a member of your family.  Someone calls to report “You’re a winner!” of a foreign lottery.  To collect, all they have to do is wire money to cover the taxes and fees.  Or the caller impersonates a grandchild or other friend-in-need and says they’re desperate to have money wired now.  Both are examples of the elaborate schemes scam artists have come up with to try to convince people to wire cash to someone they don’t know.

The FTC’s settlement with Google: Part 2

According to the FTC’s recent settlement with Google, when people declined to sign up for Google Buzz, the company’s new social network, Google nonetheless enrolled them in certain features without their consent.

But what about people who clicked the link that said “Sweet! Check out Buzz”?  The FTC’s complaint alleged that they, too, weren’t adequately informed that certain information that had been private — including the people they chatted with or emailed most often — would be shared publicly by default.

Hacked Off by an Email Data Breach?

According to news reports, hackers recently accessed the database of Epsilon, a large marketing company that sends emails on behalf of banks, stores and other businesses.  Was your company an Epsilon client?  If so, the stolen information could make it easier for crooks to send emails that appear to be from your brand.

Here are a few things you can do to help your customers avoid a phishing attack that abuses your brand.

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