Business Blog


Shedding Light on Effective Date of New Bulb Labels

Should manufacturers have more time to incorporate new light bulb labeling on their packaging? And should the new light bulb rule exempt certain bulbs that soon will be obsolete? The FTC is asking for public comment on those two questions.

The new labels, which were announced in July 2010, will help buyers choose among the different types of bulbs on store shelves — traditional incandescent bulbs, and newer high-efficiency compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

Four Steps to Protecting Your Business from Con Artists

You've just opened an invoice for office supplies you didn't order or for a listing in a business directory. It’s the same invoice you got last week – but this one is stamped "Past Due." Perhaps one of your colleagues says there's someone hounding her on the phone, demanding payment for Internet services your business didn’t request. You refuse to pay, and the next thing you know, they're threatening to take you to court, or turn the bill over to a collection agency and ruin your credit.

FTC challenges Dannon’s claims for Activia Yogurt and DanActive

If you or your clients make health claims in advertising, the FTC’s settlement with Dannon Corporation for allegedly false and deceptive representations about Activia Yogurt and DanActive is a must-read.  The FTC worked closely with 39 state Attorneys General, who announced a simultaneous $21 million settlement with the company.

Data Security: Copi-er That!

If your company keeps sensitive data like Social Security numbers, credit reports, account numbers, health records, or business secrets, you’ve probably instituted safeguards to protect that information, whether it’s stored in computers or on paper. That’s great.  But it’s time to take those safeguards a step further.

ID-ylls of the Ring: FTC rethinks TSR’s Caller ID provisions

When the FTC amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2003, it required telemarketers to transmit Caller ID information.  That policy had three benefits.  It promoted privacy by allowing people to screen out unwanted telemarketing calls.  It increased industry accountability by making it harder for companies to remain anonymous.  And it helped law enforcement by making it easier to identify fraudsters and companies who violated the Do Not Call Registry.

It's in the cards

The hot present this holiday season is plastic: gift cards from popular online and brick-and-mortar retailers. But this year’s cards come wrapped in important new protections for people who buy and use them.

FTC’s EchoMetrix settlement: EULA-ppreciate this guidance on privacy disclosures

Parents are understandably concerned about keeping their kids safe online.  That’s why many moms and dads paid $3.99 a month for Sentry Parental Controls, software sold by EchoMetrix, Inc.  Once Sentry is installed on a computer, buyers can log into their online account to monitor activity on that computer, including web history, online chats, and password-protected IMs.

So far, so good.  But that wasn’t the only product marketed by EchoMetrix.

Shopping in a Winter Wonderland

These days more and more holiday shoppers will be decking the halls by ducking the malls.  According to some reports, Cyber Monday has eclipsed Black Friday as the day when the going gets tough – and the tough go online shopping.

That’s great news for Internet retailers, but only if they’re up to speed on the FTC’s Mail Order Rule, which also applies to online sales. So now’s the time for businesses to make a list and check it twice to ensure Mail Order Rule compliance.

Second Largest Debt Collection Civil Penalty in FTC History – and New Compliance Resource for Business

The FTC’s recent settlement with Allied Interstate, one of the nation’s largest debt collectors, sends a timely reminder to industry members to comply with the law – and an important message to consumers that the FTC has their back when it comes to companies that cross the line.

Tales From the Unencrypted

Does your business have a wireless network?  Do you or your employees ever use wifi to catch up on work from home?  Think about all the data that could be transmitted over your wireless network – credit card numbers, bank account information, business secrets.  You probably don’t want to share that information with everyone who passes through your neighborhood.  But that’s what you’re doing if you don’t use strong encryption and take other steps to secure your home network.  Someone nearby could “piggyback” on your network, or even access the information on your computer.

"Liability? Shmiability. We're just processing payments."

Short-sighted thinking like that has landed a lot of businesses in hot water with law enforcers.  They forget that the reach of federal and state consumer protection statutes can be expansive.  Under appropriate circumstances, payment processors – as well businesses handling ad copy, telemarketing, fulfillment, and a host of other functions – may be liable for the role they play in another company’s deceptive or unfair practices.

FTC Staff Recommends Changes to Business Opportunity Rule

The FTC's Biz Opp Cops have recommended that the Business Opportunity Rule be expanded to include work-at-home opportunities like envelope stuffing, medical billing, and product assembly, many of which have not been covered before. An FTC staff report outlines other suggested changes, including streamlining the disclosures required by the Rule so that people buying business opportunities get important info in a simple, easy-to-re

The Business of Doing Business

Our mythic business executive is having a busy day.  She’s got a breakfast meeting with Marketing to review an email promotion.  Then it’s on to HR to talk about steps to keep personnel records secure.  She’ll grab coffee with the Web Team to go over an online product launch and then rush to lunch with the local business club, where the topic is truth-in-advertising standards.

Free Delivery, No Purchase Required

In my family, we're big fans of home delivery.  Whether its dinner, clothes, books, or electronics, if it can be delivered to our door, we like it -- and I know we're not alone.

That's one reason I'm telling people about Penn Corner, the FTC's new monthly e-newsletter. It gets delivered to subscribers' inboxes each month. And unlike the jazzy new phone I just ordered, it's absolutely free.

U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds $48 Million Judgment

For people with an ailment, Direct Marketing Concepts and ITV Direct had the answer: Coral Calcium or Supreme Greens. But according to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the companies, their corporate officers, and related entities lacked scientific proof for claims that their products could cure or prevent diseases like cancer, arthritis, lupus, Parkinson’s, and MS. The upshot?