Years ago, the Australian group Men at Work asked the musical question “Who Can It Be Now?” In the ongoing battle against Coronavirus scams, FTC staff just sent warning letters to nine companies reminding them of the potential ramifications of behind-the-scenes involvement in illegal COVID-19 promotions.
It’s an unprecedented time. But even in the midst of monumental change, the FTC’s commitment to its consumer protection mission remains constant. Here’s a statement from Chairman Simons about the ongoing work of the Bureau of Consumer Protection:
We’ve warned consumers about Coronavirus-related scams, but businesses are at risk, too. Keep your guard up against these seven B2B scams that try to exploit companies’ concerns about COVID-19. In addition to sharing this information with your employees and social networks, read on for how you can report Coronavirus scams to the FTC.
If you say you’re better, you’d better be better – and you’d better have appropriate proof to back up that claim. That’s a takeaway tip for businesses from the FTC’s proposed settlement with Federal-Mogul Motorparts, LLC.
Even as we all adjust to day-to-day changes, your work – and the work of the FTC – continues. If you’re a technologist or academic interested in presenting your latest research at the FTC’s PrivacyCon 2020, please let us know by April 10, 2020. Check out the Call for Presentations and respond by the deadline.
It’s a disturbing trend. Companies are targeting older consumers, claiming to have easy answers for serious diseases for which there may not be a proven cure. That’s one allegation in the FTC’s action against Nevada-based telemarketer Health Center, Inc. Another count challenges what we call “own-dorsements.”
If your business sells online, the price of the product is only one comparative calculation that consumers consider. Shipping matters, too. Does your business deliver to their location? How much will it cost? When will they get their stuff? Here are some practical principles to apply – and some myths to bust – about shipping products to customers from sea to shining sea.
The practice is called piggybacking, but it’s not child’s play. It’s where a person with iffy credit pays a credit repair company to be listed as an authorized user on the account of someone with good credit – even though they don’t actually have access. The idea is that the person with bad credit can inflate their own credit score and get the money-saving benefits of better credit by “piggybacking” on the credit of a stranger. That’s how a Denver-based business pitched its services to cash-strapped consumers.
When public health concerns hit the headlines, some companies rush to the market with products advertised to prevent or treat the problem. We’re seeing the same thing with the Coronavirus. But do those businesses have proof for their advertising claims, as the FTC requires? And have their products been approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA? The FTC and FDA just sent warning letters to seven companies raising concerns about their Coronavirus-related products.
The “what” of the FTC’s settlement with Teami, LLC, shouldn’t come as a surprise. The complaint alleges the defendants took in more than $15 million by deceptively claiming their array of teas could cause rapid and substantial weight loss, “fight against cancerous cells,” decrease migraines, unclog arteries, and prevent colds and flu. What’s different is the “how.” The defendants advertised primarily through a massive social media campaign.
Real estate professionals say it’s all about “location, location, location.” For health-related claims, the FTC says it’s all about “substantiation, substantiation, substantiation.” Marketers of an electric device called Quell claimed their product could treat chronic and severe pain throughout the body caused by conditions as diverse as arthritis, nerve damage, sciatica, shingles, and fibromyalgia. And they said all that could be accomplished by placing their product on one single location below the knee.
Turning eighteen was a momentous birthday for most of us and the same could be said for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule. Finalized in 2002 and in effect since 2003, the Safeguards Rule requires “financial institutions” to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program for handling customer information.
As an essential engine of the American economy, small business has a big impact. But where can small business owners turn for the capital they need to grow? Traditional lenders are one option, but the “It’s a Wonderful Life” image of George Bailey at the Building & Loan may not reflect reality. New online options may broaden the availability of credit, but they also raise some consumer protection concerns.
To review everything the FTC did in 2019 dealing with consumer privacy and data security – Enforcement, Advocacy, Rules, Workshops, Consumer Education, Business Guidance, and International Engagement – it could take days to compile all that information. The FTC has an easier way to share those developments with your company, clients, and colleagues.
There’s a text message scam making the rounds that could target your mail room staff, receptionist, or other employees. The FTC has tips on how you can protect your business.
You're a heartbreaker.
Don't you mess around with me.
With apologies to Pat Benatar, our version of her hit Heartbreaker could join Love Stinks, You’re No Good, and Lips are Movin’ on our slightly skewed Valentine’s Day playlist. Maybe it’s the decades of dealing with deception, but February 14th reminds us to remind others that sometimes hearts and flowers can give way to hurts and sours – and reports in the FTC Consumer Sentinel Database support what we’re saying.
Ads for health products often target Boomer Consumers, but those aren’t the only claims pitched to people looking toward retirement. An FTC action alleges a company called Online Trading Academy has taken in more than $370 million by gearing its deceptive representations to that demographic. In addition, the complaint alleges violations of the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
Does your company use endorsements in your advertising? Or perhaps you endorse other companies’ products. Then you’ll want to follow the FTC’s just-announced regulatory review of its Endorsement Guides.
You’ve heard of the holder-in-due-course doctrine. An FTC settlement with two Oregon-based businesses introduces the folder-in-due-course doctrine: the principle that it’s illegal to make misleading claims to induce small businesses to buy advertising space in promotional folders. It’s the latest FTC action challenging deceptive practices that target smaller companies.
It can be one of the biggest expenditures a consumer makes. It’s a uniquely sensitive transaction. And it’s covered by an FTC Rule.