Like the swallows returning to Capistrano and the umpire yelling “Play ball!” on Opening Day, there’s another inevitable harbinger of spring: ads for bogus products promising easy weight loss just in time for bathing suit season. But this year, media outlets have a new tool for spotting false claims before they’re published or aired – and before consumers risk their money (and maybe even their health) on a worthless pill, potion, belt, cream, or whatever. If you or your clients run ads for weight loss products, it’s time for a gut check.
In a lot of schools, kids are more likely to be looking at screens than at blackboards. One advantage: fewer annoying chalk squeaks. Of course, the benefits of the connected classroom go far beyond that. But educators, administrators, and parents have been asking an important question: How do the protections of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the accompanying FTC rule apply in the school setting?
Whether it’s a website where people diagnosed with the same medical condition can share their stories or an app to find out how long it will take in the gym to burn off a Macadamia Mania Ripple sundae, consumers are taking their health in their own hands – and generating a massive amount of digital data in the process. If you or your clients have jumped into this burgeoning market, here’s a development you’ll want to follow.
The Business Blog reflects sources some might describe as, well, eclectic – everything from Supreme Court jurisprudence to 80s TV. But today’s post comes from a message on a neighborhood listerv in Washington, D.C. It starts with a scam, but ends on a note that should be of interest to retailers.
Cramming unauthorized charges onto phone bills violates the FTC Act, of course. But depending on the circumstances, cases like that also can result in criminal prosecution. Two brothers who bilked consumers out of millions as part of a cramming scam are now behind bars – giving a whole new meaning to the term “cell phone.” And the prosecutors who brought the case, Assistant United States Attorneys Hallie Mitchell Hoffman and Kyle F.
If you’re thinking “Heartbleed” sounds serious, you’re right. But it’s not a health condition. It’s a critical flaw in OpenSSL, a popular software program that’s used to secure websites and other services (like VPN and email). If your company relies on OpenSSL to encrypt data, take steps to fix the problem and limit the damage. Otherwise, your sensitive business documents and your customers’ personal information could be at risk.
It’s funny how kids sometimes mishear famous phrases – for example, “And lead us not into Penn Station” or the confused Elton John lyric “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.” We once heard first graders end the Pledge of Allegiance by saying “One nation, individual, with liberty and justice for all.” On second thought, maybe they were on to something. Analytics techniques are out there that categorize consumers and make predictions about individual behavior. For sure, it can offer insights to advance medical research, transportation, manufacturing, etc. But to what extent can big data
When one company acquires another, there’s usually a lot of discussion about how to harmonize divergent procedures – everything from personnel policies to buying paper clips. But a letter to executives at Facebook and WhatsApp from Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, should remind businesses there's one thing that doesn’t change: privacy promises made to customers.
That was the catchphrase from the “Poltergeist” movie series, but we want to warn you about something more dangerous than ghostly apparitions emanating from your TV.
When the talk turns to Big Data, part of the conversation is about all the public information available about people's lives – and how companies market it to prospective employers, landlords, etc.
It was Shakespeare who asked “What’s in a name?” If you and your clients keep tabs on the latest legal developments in social networking and reputation management, you’ll want to read the FTC’s complaint against the website Jerk.com – how’s that for a name?
That “Inc.” after a company’s name can offer certain legal protections, but immunity from liability under the FTC Act isn’t necessarily one of them. If you’re a corporate officer or number them among your clients, a recent settlement with two people involved in a debt collection operation should underscore that message.
Every tech publication seems to have a list of best apps for business. Whether the goal is to analyze corporate cash flow or avoid the dreaded middle seat that doesn’t recline, there’s an app for the task. But have you considered the kind of sensitive customer or employee information some apps let you transmit? Developers may claim to take steps to secure the data, but as the FTC’s proposed settlements with Fandango and Credit Karma demonstrate,
Imagine a burly doorman at an exclusive party. When someone claims to be a guest, the doorman checks their invitation and runs it against the names on the list. If it doesn’t match up, the person won’t make it through the velvet rope. But what happens if the doorman isn’t doing his job? His lapse could allow a ringer into the party to scarf up the hors d’oeuvres and steal the valuables.
An FTC Moment, that is. 2014 marks a milestone for the Federal Trade Commission. It’s the 100th birthday for America’s consumer protection agency – and you’re invited to the celebration.
For people in the market for a car, an ad on YouTube for Massachusetts-based Courtesy Auto Group featured some eye-catching numbers: “Get behind the wheel of the new 2013 Kia Sorento, now lease priced for $239 a month with zero down, or sale priced at $20,980.” To emphasize the point, the visual on the screen highlighted in bold letters:
with $0 down
If you’re a stats fan – the kind that can recalculate a pitcher’s ERA before the runner slides across the plate – the release of the FTC’s fourth major study on the alcohol industry offers a wealth of empirical data for your consideration. Based on information submitted by 14 companies in response to FTC Special Orders, the study focuses on alcohol advertising and industry efforts to reduce marketing to underage audiences. Even if you don’t have clients in that
When the FTC sued payday lender AMG Services in 2012, the complaint charged the defendants with a host of deceptive and unfair practices aimed at consumers already struggling to make ends meet. Undisclosed fees and debt collection calls that threatened arrest were just a few of the allegations. The defendants countered with an interesting defense: that their affiliation with American Indian tribes rendered them beyond the reach of the FTC Act. A U.S.
Good news? About funerals? That’s not a headline you read every day. But the results of the FTC’s latest undercover inspections to check if funeral homes are complying with the Funeral Rule yielded some positive results – and sounded cautionary notes for some members of the industry.
“A word to the wise should be sufficient.” We’re not sure who first coined that proverb. Aesop? King Solomon? Ben Franklin? But whoever it was, if he's in the market for a used car in Arkansas, here’s news he might want to consider.