The last thing people struggling to keep their heads above perilous financial waters need is an anchor weighing them down. That's why, as of today, businesses must comply with all provisions of new amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule designed to curb deception in the sale of debt relief services.
Most importantly, companies that use outbound telemarketing -- or have customers call them in response to ads or other solicitations -- can’t collect fees from customers until:
• they successfully settle or change the terms of at least one of their debts;
This is National Chemistry Week. It’s also National School Bus Week. And be sure to wish members of Team Jacob a happy National Wolf Awareness Week. But for most business travelers, the annual observance that really hits home – or the road – is National Protect Your Identity Week, October 17th through 23rd.
Next Wednesday is a banner day for America’s consumers – and a critical deadline for companies in the debt relief services industry to conduct a head-to-toe compliance check-up on their operations. As of October 27th, businesses that call prospective customers to sell debt relief services – or have customers call them in response to ads or other solicitations – have to comply with new amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule that make it illegal to charge fees before settling or reducing a customer’s debts.
Maybe you work in the tech sector. Perhaps your firm has clients with a big internet presence. Or maybe you're responsible for paying attention to how your family uses the computer. That's why you'll want to know about the Net Cetera Community Outreach Toolkit, a free resource just released by OnGuardOnline.gov.
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.
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.
Our Green Guides have been under review for the last few years in an effort to make sure that they are appropriate for a changing marketplace. As part of the review process, the agency sought comments from the public, hosted public workshops, and conducted its own consumer perception study. The changes the Commission is proposing include guidance on:
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.
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.
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.
Lots of businesses rely on telemarketers to sell their products and services. If you’re one of them, you’ve probably heard of the National Do Not Call Registry, which gives people the right to limited unwanted telemarketing calls. Did you know people have placed more than 200 million phone numbers on the Do Not Call list?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.