Business Blog

FTC, EEOC offer FCRA 411

When someone mentions the FTC, the EEOC, and the FCRA in the same sentence, it may sound like a ladle of alphabet soup.  What’s really being served up is a new joint publication by the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that talks about how the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the mandate to comply with anti-discrimination laws intersect when employers use background checks in personnel decisions.

Do you sell health products? Court opinion offers truth-in-advertising recap

Advertisers that sell health products should know the legal standards by now, but to those resistant to the message, a federal judge in California spelled them out again in a $2.2 million judgment against the marketers of two diabetes products – Diabetic Pack and Insulin Resistance Pack.

FTC settlement with ADT sounds alarm about deceptive use of paid endorsers

Consumers who tuned in to programs like the Today Show, Daybreak USA, and local newscasts may have caught interviews with guests billed as “The Safety Mom,” a home security expert, or a tech expert.  Among the products they reviewed was ADT’s Pulse Home Monitoring System.  Describing it as “amazing” or “incredible,” they offered glowing details about its capabilities, safety benefits, and cost.  But according to the FTC, here's one material fact that wasn’t discussed:  ADT had paid the three spokespersons a total of more than $300,000 and provided two of them with free systems valued at $4

Happy NSCTTHTPWHECL Week

To the FTC and our 74 local, state, federal, and non-profit partners, March 2nd through 8th is National Consumer Protection Week.  But when you think about it, it’s a time for businesses to celebrate, too.  It’s just that National Shout-Out to Companies that Tell the Truth, Honor Their Promises, and Work Hard to Earn Customers’ Loyalty Week wouldn’t fit neatly on a button or banner.

Statue of limitations?

The awards season may be over for the entertainment industry, but it’s time for consumer protection to take its turn on the red carpet. (Of course, no one should ever have to ask “Who are you wearing?”  A quick look at the label and a search in the FTC’s RN Database will provide that information instantly.)   If we were giving out the statuettes, here are some of the winners from movies and TV.

Tanks for nothing

At first, consumers thought it was their lucky day.  They had received text messages announcing they had won a $1,000 gift card from a major retailer.  But they ended up with their hopes in the tank – in this case, CPATank, Inc., and Eagle Web Assets, Inc., the latest defendants to settle FTC charges for sending deceptive unsolicited texts.  The law enforcement action offers interesting insights into affiliate marketing and the breadth of liability under the

Lock, stock, and peril

In old movies, ransom notes came in the form of pasted letters cut from newspapers.  There’s a new kind of ransom that could pose a substantial risk to your business.  Have you alerted your staff about how to protect one of your company’s most valuable assets?

Keep it under your hat

Usually when someone says “keep it under your hat,” they’re asking you to keep information confidential.  But when the FTC staff says “keep it under your hat” – and the hat in question is made of wool – we mean the exact opposite.  To us, it’s a reminder to marketers that hats containing wool must have labels that clearly disclose what the product is made of.

The best 30-second investment you’ll make all day

Familiar with Fantage?  If you have kids, they probably are.  It’s a MMORPG – a massively multiplayer online role-playing game – where millions of children customize avatars to play online games in a virtual world.  According to the FTC, there are a few more initials this MMORPG will want to be mindful of in the future:  the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.

What’s this “mall tracking” I’ve been hearing about?

Consumers may not know it, but there are technologies out there that let retailers and others track their movements within and around stores and other attractions through their mobile devices.  Businesses can use the information to identify trends in consumer behavior, plan sales and promotions, and more efficiently staff their stores and structure check-out (although no matter how sophisticated the technology, we always manage to choose the slow-moving line).

(Con)tempting fate

We’re not lyricists, but had the 1972 hit “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” been addressed to defendants in FTC actions, here’s our proposed rewrite:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
You don’t spit into the wind.

You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.
And you don’t engage in acts and practices in contempt of a United States District Judge’s Permanent Injunction.

50th data security settlement offers golden opportunity to check your practices

Imagine doing a routine online search and having the search engine serve up files that include medical histories, notes from psychiatric sessions and children’s medical exams, sensitive information about drug abuse or pregnancy loss, and personal data like Social Security and driver’s license numbers.  That suggests a breach that “uh-oh” doesn’t begin to cover.  The FTC’s lawsuit against GMR Transcription Services –

Less than meets the eye?

When an ad purports to show a “right before your eyes” demonstration of a product in action, the visual must be a truthful representation of what it can do.  If that’s not the case, both the advertiser and the ad agency can find themselves in law enforcement quicksand.  That may have been news to Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper in the early 60s, but it’s been a well-established legal tenet since then.  The FTC’s complaint against Nissan North Amer

FTC says diaper claims didn't pass the smell test

What do dirty diapers and deceptive ads have in common?  (We’ll pause a moment so you can add your own punch line.)  Now that’s out of the way, the action against Portland-based Down to Earth Designs – consumers know them as gDiapers – is the FTC's latest effort to ensure the accuracy of environmental marketing claims.  But even if green isn't your game, the case also offers insights into what the FTC calls "unqualified claims."

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