It started as one of those “run it up the flagpole” ideas to enlist big-name gymnasts to promote a brand of mosquito repellent just as news stories about the 2016 Brazil Olympics were sounding warnings about the Zika virus. Public relations firm Creaxion Corporation and specialty sports magazine publisher Inside Publications used a variety of digital strategies on behalf of the brand: athlete endorsements, social media posts, “advertorials,” and consumer reviews.
An employee catches up on some work while visiting the local coffee shop. She grabs her Double Mocha to go, but accidentally leaves behind a flash drive with hundreds of Social Security numbers on it. When she returns, the flash drive is gone. Then there’s the staff member who needs to free up file room space. After he tosses a stack of old company bank records into the garbage, a dumpster diver spots the trash and walks away with a windfall.
If you run a business that offers people a way to send money to other people, you may want to pay attention to whether your service is catering to fraudsters. It’s an important message because, for many years, money transfers have been a preferred payment method for scammers, who know that they can pick up the cash and disappear. And it’s a message some companies apparently need to hear twice.
Based on the promoters’ promises, it sounded like a tropical paradise: a luxury enclave called Sanctuary Belize featuring a championship golf course, a new airport with direct flights to the U.S., and a hospital staffed with American doctors. No wonder consumers – many of whom were contemplating retirement – sunk more than $100 million of their savings into lots in what appeared to be a swanky resort development already under construction.
If you have a 2012, 2013, or 2014 Passat 2.0L TDI and got the approved emissions modification, Volkswagen has identified a potential problem with the “fix” it installed on your car that needs your immediate attention. If you have one of those vehicles but haven’t gotten the modification, you must make an important decision very soon. You’ll be getting a detailed letter in the mail from VW about this, but in the meantime, here are some key facts.
The FTC hosted roundtables across the country asking small business owners how we can help you address the challenges of cybersecurity. Based on your feedback, we designed to-the-point tips now available at ftc.gov/cybersecurity. Last week we kicked off a 12-part every-Friday Business Blog series with cybersecurity basics.
If you aren’t familiar with the word “overbiffing,” there’s no need to add it to your vocabulary. But if you know what overbiffing is and engage in it, a case just filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General suggests now would be an excellent time to cut it out.
One of the Utah-based defendants’ corporate names was Vision Solution Marketing, but you need to hear their sales pitch to get a sense of how they peddled their big-money “business coaching” services to consumers. In addition to imposing multi-million dollar judgments, FTC settlements ban the defendants for life from selling business coaching or development services. But you really should listen to these phone calls.
Imagine a baseball scout is taking a look at a prospect. On paper, the slugger’s batting average seems impressive. But now imagine that, unbeknownst to the scout, those stats left out all the times the batter struck out. It’s an unrealistic hypothetical, of course, but it illustrates the principle that in compiling averages, removing certain categories of data can skew the results.
As a small business owner, you know that cyber criminals will steal data any place they can find it, whether it’s from a global giant or a Main Street store. So where can you find just-the-facts security advice tailored to your needs? At ftc.gov/cybersecurity. The FTC has boiled it down to a dozen need-to-know topics for small businesses and we’ll address one each week in the Business Blog.
Do you work for a non-profit? Or maybe you’re on the board of a charity or active in a professional or service organization in your community. If so, you know the group collects all sorts of private information, including details about members or people you serve and financial information related to donors. Your own personal information, too, is probably in the group’s records of employees and volunteers. Cyber criminals would love to get their hands on that data.
Take out your scheduler now and block out Thursday, June 27, 2019. That’s the date of the FTC’s fourth annual PrivacyCon and you’ll want to be in on the action.
In the annals of film, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Casablanca are among our top picks. But don’t expect our list to include TBX-FREE, Eupepsia Thin, or Prolongz, dissolving strips of film the FTC says California-based Redwood Scientific deceptively advertised for smoking cessation, weight loss, and male sexual performance.
October 20, 2018, marked 20 years since Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Many of the kids the law was originally designed to protect are now parents themselves. Looking back on two decades of COPPA, here are our five key takeaways.
Old West nostrum sellers used to market treatments for a broad range of diseases with the slogan “Good for what ails ya.” California-based Regenerative Medical Group used a current buzzword in science – stem cell therapy – to peddle what they claimed were treatments for conditions as varied as cerebral palsy and autism to Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and macular degeneration.
Small businesses are concerned about ransomware, email imposters, and other common cyber threats. So FTC staff hosted roundtables to ask business owners what we can do to help. You came from different parts of the country and different economic sectors, but your answers were consistent and you didn’t mince words: 1) You want straightforward advice that’s easy to implement; and 2) You want consistent guidance from the different federal agencies that deal with cyber threats and data security.
When people are looking to rent a house or apartment, the most important “screening” isn’t on the windows of the prospective new place. It’s the tenant background screening that goes on behind the scenes, the results of which can make the difference between home sweet home and homeless.
When people take a moment to report fraud, identity theft, or questionable business practices to the FTC, they’re giving consumers everywhere a “gift” of sorts. We use those reports – we get millions every year – to warn others about the latest scams. They also serve as an important source of information for our law enforcement efforts.
When the FTC warns consumers about government imposter scams, we’re usually referring to bogus calls that falsely claim to come from the IRS or some other official office. But as a case just announced by the FTC demonstrates, that’s not the only kind of false government affiliation that can deceive consumers.
Here’s something likely to make consumers start firing on all cylinders: receiving an “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” in the mail with a “warning” that their vehicle “may be under an important factory/safety recall.” But according to an FTC lawsuit against the Passport group of car dealerships in the Washington, D.C., area, the vast majority of people who received those notices didn’t have a vehicle subject to an open recall.