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(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.

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.

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