By now, it shouldn’t be news. Using illegal spam and bogus news sites to convey false claims for diet products is bound to attract FTC attention. Oh, and did we mention the phony representation that the products were endorsed by Oprah and the people on the TV show "The Doctors"?
As the FTC staff discussed at a seminar about consumer generated and controlled health data, people are turning to apps, devices, and websites to manage their own health information. Yesterday we talked about the contours of the compliance landscape.
With the help of innovative businesses, consumers are taking a more active role in managing their health information. How? Maybe it’s an app that monitors their exercise habits, a device that lets diabetics track glucose levels, or a site where patients with the same condition share information. In addition, people are starting to download their information into personal health records, partially because of regulatory initiatives promoting secure online access to medical data.
Buffalo is famous as the home of the Bills, but it’s also home to many bill collectors. The FTC is sponsoring a series of Debt Collection Dialogues across the country and the first stop will be Buffalo on June 15, 2015, in conjunction with the New York Attorney General’s Office. If debt collection practices are of interest to you, fry the wings, take out the hot sauce – and mark your calendar for June 15th.
Is your business breaking into the latest mobile device tracking technologies? If so, remember that the FTC Act still applies. Your business’ basic legal obligation to keep its promises is just as important when using emerging technologies as it is in other contexts.
As the name suggests, Green Tree Servicing was supposed to service homeowners’ mortgages by collecting and crediting monthly payments. But according to a $63 million settlement announced by the FTC and CFPB, rather than service, Green Tree gave many homeowners the business.
- $642.4 million in redress and disgorgement ordered in consumer protection cases.
- 2,582,851 complaints received from consumers.
- 192 orders obtained.
Those are just a few of the crunchable numbers in the FTC’s 2014 Annual Highlights.
Like juggling chain saws or using a Ming vase as a sippy cup, some things are just too risky to be reasonable. Here’s one to add to that list: posting unencrypted financial information about 55,000 consumers on a website available to anyone with an internet connection.
If you’re active in affiliate marketing, a summary judgment ruling by a United States District Court offers additional support for the conclusion that “Who, me?” isn’t likely to be a persuasive defense to allegations of deception. As a result of the holding, affiliate marketing network LeadClick Media and its parent company, CoreLogic, have to turn over a total of $11.9 million in ill-gotten gains.
When playing hide and seek as a child, remember those kids who always seemed to find that hidden crawl space or cranny? Whatever happened to them? Let’s hope they didn’t grow up to go into advertising since current marketing methods offer lots of ways for companies to hide important terms and conditions. The FTC's proposed settlement with Network Solutions illustrates a few examples.
Does your company participate in the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework? It’s a voluntary international privacy program administered by the Department of Commerce that lets companies transfer data from the EU to the U.S. in compliance with EU law. Of course, data security and privacy are everyday obligations for companies, but are you honoring one particular once-a-year provision? And what about promises you make regarding how you resolve consumer disputes?
Call me (call me) on the line.
Call me, call me any, anytime.
We were big Blondie fans, but if the lyrics of “Call Me” are any indication, they’re not the best source of information about complying with the Do Not Call and robocall provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. So we’re turning to FTC attorney Bikram Bandy to get answers to questions that businesses are asking.
If you handle personnel matters for your company, Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know should be on your desk. The joint FTC-EEOC publication offers dos and don’ts for businesses when looking into the background of prospective employees or current staff up for promotion, retention, transfer, etc. But if it’s time for a compliance double-check, the FTC just issued a new brochure that could serve as a cross-reference.
For companies that follow what’s going on at the FTC, a letter with the agency seal signed by “FTC Director Jessica Rich” might attract attention. But there’s one letter that claims to be from the FTC that we suggest you ignore.
That’s because the sender says you’ve won a sweepstakes and Jessica Rich of the FTC will help you claim the cash – after you pay a $5,000 “Legal Registration Bond,” of course.
What’s truthful about those letters? There is a person at the FTC named Jessica Rich. As it happens, she heads up the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
What do mystery writers, magicians, and some small business scammers have in common? The art of misdirection. But when it comes to small business scammers, we’re on to their tricks. Today the FTC announced that, at its request, a federal court stopped yellow page scammers that were targeting businesses all over the U.S. with a series of ploys. According to the FTC, this is how it worked.
When it comes to car advertising, truth should be standard equipment. That’s the message of Operation Ruse Control, a coast-to-coast and cross-border sweep by the FTC and state, federal, and international law enforcers aimed at driving out deception in automobile ads, adds-ons, financing, and auto loan modification services. The FTC cases offer 6 tips to help keep your promotions in the proper lane.
Every company takes a different approach to how it collects, maintains, and shares consumers’ personal information. Companies that want to do right by their customers are careful to explain how they handle that data. That way, consumers will know how their data will be treated.
But what happens when a company changes owners or merges with another entity? Do the representations the company made to consumers before a merger about how their information will be used apply after the merger? Are there limits on how it can be used and shared?
The FTC keeps its finger on the pulse of markets, channeling its resources to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices involving new technologies. A few years ago, we created the Mobile Technology Unit to help bring consumer protection into the mobile era. Staffers assist the Bureau of Consumer Protection and FTC regions with law enforcement investigations and lend their expertise to the development of consumer protection policy.
If your company offers warranties, a proposed FTC settlement with BMW of North America’s MINI Division suggests that a compliance check-up could be warranted.