Business Blog


Deep in the Heart of Taxes

Owners of small businesses wrestling with tax obligations are sure to have seen the ads.  American Tax Relief LLC promised to settle customers’ delinquent federal and state taxes for a fraction of what they owe, as well as put a stop to tax liens, bank levies, and property seizures.  But according to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, the company charged up-front fees ranging from about $3,200 to $25,000 and offered little in return.

Ever Green

Today, the FTC is releasing proposed changes to its Green Guides.  For years, the Green Guides have offered practical steps businesses can take to make sure that claims for a product’s environmental qualities aren’t misleading.

Miracle on 36th Street

In the holiday classic "Miracle on 34th Street," optimists and skeptics debated the existence of Kris Kringle. Nobody would liken effective advertising self-regulation to Santa Claus, but the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (NAD) – located on 36th Street in New York – has made believers out of a lot of people. Kicking off its annual conference today, the NAD is a forum for monitoring and evaluating truth and accuracy in national advertising.

Raising the Roof on Mortgage Ad Truth

Many homeowners are struggling to keep the financial roof from caving in – and questionable claims in mortgage ads make it even tougher to do. Continuing its fight against deception in mortgage advertising, the FTC has proposed a rule that would ban misrepresentations and would allow the FTC and the states to seek financial penalties against businesses that violate the rule.

Lock Mess

There’s lots of public information out there about people. So it’s no surprise there’s a booming business in the sale of data – and in the sale of services that promise to protect personal information. The FTC’s recent settlement with data broker US Search demonstrates that like any other advertising claims, representations about privacy and security must be substantiated.


Many smaller companies want to extend health benefits to employees, but are concerned about keeping the price affordable.  For people who own their own business or are looking for work, cost-effective coverage can be tough to find.  If you’re in the market for health insurance, make sure that’s what you’re buying.  Some programs pitched to small businesses, the self-employed, and the uninsured sound like affordable health insurance, but actually are medical discount plans.  Although some plans may offer legitimate savings, others take people’s money and provide very little in return.


You fought off a hostile takeover and went toe to toe with the most aggressive competitor in the business. But now you’re facing the toughest crowd of all: a classroom of fifth graders at the local elementary school’s Career Day.  No need to be frozen with fear when Admongo – an online videogame that educates kids about advertising – is just a click away.

The Dupe of URL

No, not the doowop song by Gene Chandler, but a form of fraud aimed at small businesses and non-profits. Here’s how the scam works: Con artists send fake invoices to businesses, listing the domain name or URL of the company’s website or a slight variation – like substituting ".org" for ".com." The bills, designed to look like they come from a domain name registrar, say the company owes money for its annual "website address listing" and "search optimization" service. Busy entrepreneurs are led to believe they have to pay to keep the company URL up and running.

What's Your P2P Policy?

You’re looking at a website right now, but what else is open on the toolbar at the bottom of your screen? Customer spreadsheets? Financial documents? Confidential memos? What’s the risk that a hacker is looking over your virtual shoulder to steal data that could be used to commit fraud or ID theft? The answer may depend on your company’s policy toward peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.

Full Disclosure

The FTC’s first law enforcement action related to the revised Endorsement Guides offers compliance insights for marketers.  In a proposed settlement with Reverb Communications, Inc., the FTC alleged that employees of a public relations agency hired by game developers posed as consumers and posted reviews on Apple’s iTunes store without disclosing that the reviews came from people working on behalf of the developers.

BCP Business Center: Your Link to the Law

Welcome to the BCP Business Center:  Your Link to the Law.  Explore and you’ll find practical compliance guidance on advertising, telemarketing, credit, data security, and other need-to-know topics for business owners and marketing professionals.  What else will you find?  The latest word on upcoming workshops, hot-off-the-presses staff reports, and new compliance videos.  We’ll do our best to keep things to the point with a minimum of ho-hum, a maximum of how-to, and as little yadda yadda yadda as a legal website can manage.