Business Blog

Keep your Made in USA claims red, white, and true

There sure are a lot of seals out there. The British singer. The Navy special ops unit. The aquatic mammal. But the seals that matter to the FTC are certifications that convey representations consumers might not be able to evaluate for themselves. If your company makes Made in the USA claims, you’ll want to “Get Closer.” (And yes, that was a hit by 70s folk rockers, Seals and Crofts.)

Throwing the book at directory scammers: 5 B2B frauds to watch out for

Wily deception. Masters of impersonation. International intrigue. We could be describing PBS’ re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, but we’re not. We’re talking about a scam that’s been around almost as long as the famous resident of 221B Baker Street – and still leaves small businesses barking like the Hound of the Baskervilles.

This time it's personal

Ask most people to name the streets in the neighborhood where they grew up and they’ll tell you Maple Lane or Sycamore Drive. Ask a military kid – ask this military kid – and she’ll mention Tank Destroyer Boulevard and Hell on Wheels Avenue. Years ago, if you drove down Tank Destroyer and exited the East Gate of Fort Hood, the neon signs advertising “zero down,” “E-Z credit,” or “low monthly payments” lit up the Central Texas sky like a discount aurora borealis.

In-app and unapproved: FTC says Amazon charged parents' accounts without their OK

If there’s one theme that runs through decades of FTC law, it’s that companies need consumers’ informed consent to bill their accounts. That was true in the early days of mail order. It carried through to online shopping. And it remains the law for mobile devices, including in-app purchases. The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges the company didn’t honor that elementary principle.

Who profits from cramming? FTC challenges T-Mobile's role in bogus billing

It was an all-too-common occurrence.  People’s mobile phone bills included unexplained – and unauthorized – monthly charges.  It’s called cramming and the FTC has brought a series of cases against companies that had fees for ringtones, horoscopes, “love tips,” etc., placed on cell phone bills without consumers’ consent.  The crammers took a chunk of the cash, but you might be surprised to learn who the FTC says pocketed a 35-40% piece of the action.  A just-filed lawsuit pulls back the curtain on

FTC to L’Oréal: Scientific claims need proof that’s more than just skin deep

When ads for beauty products convey subjective claims – for example, L’Oréal’s long-standing “Because I’m worth it” tagline – it’s unlikely consumers would think statements like that are supported by science.  (It’s hard to imagine a testing protocol that could establish whether or not we’re worth it.)  But flip through a magazine and it’s apparent that test tubes are overtaking powder puffs in how some cosmetics are marketed.  When companies tout the scientific research behind their advertising or say their products have been “clinically proven,” those claims – like any other objective re

The long and short of it

Ahab hunts big fish.
Captain and whaling boat sink.

Ishmael prevails.

Sometimes you want to read all 209,117 words of Moby Dick.  Other times a haiku will do.  Sometimes you want an in-depth analysis of the FTC’s enforcement, rulemaking, research, education, and international efforts related to privacy and data security.  Other times a summary will suffice.

Hey, Rachel. The FTC is going DEF CON.

Hey, Rachel the Robocaller.  Every month we get 150,000 complaints about you and your robocalling besties.  We’ve sued dozens of them.  We’ve sponsored a national challenge to make your life harder.  But this time, Rach, the gloves are off.  We’re going DEF CON on you and we’re launching a particularly powerful surface-to-robocall missile with your name on it.

Not-so-fantastic recycled plastic?

When comparing products made of plastic lumber – picnic tables, benches, trash bins, and the like – many consumers and businesses factor in environmental considerations.  So when California-based American Plastic Lumber suggested its products were made virtually entirely out of post-consumer recycled content like milk jugs and detergent bottles, it’s understandable that shoppers would take note.  But according to the FTC, buyers didn’t get the benefit they bargai

False statements to credit bureaus: Nothing to CROA 'bout

It’s called CROA – the Credit Repair Organizations Act – and it was put in place to protect people battling their way back from financial adversity.  Given the long history of questionable practices in this sector, CROA makes it illegal to charge people upfront before services are rendered.  It also bans misleading statements to credit bureaus about consumers’ credit records.  There’s been lots of talk about the harm posed by false negative information in credit reports.  But in an interesting twist,

It's Game Over for Gameover Zeus

The Department of Justice recently announced a multinational law enforcement effort to disrupt the Gameover Zeus Botnet.  What is it and why should your company care?

Gameover Zeus is malware designed to steal banking and other credentials from home and business computers.  Once infected, a computer becomes part of a global network of compromised computers known as a botnet.  Criminals use botnets to carry out illegal activity – like sending spam and spreading malware.  

Fighting on three fronts: FTC weighs in on weight loss ads

Why do companies sell “miracle” diet pills and potions, promising results that defy the laws of physics?  Why do consumers buy them?  And what is the FTC doing about it?  Those are just some of the topics on the agenda at a congressional hearing today.  If you have clients that sell weight loss products or if you represent media outlets that run those ads, you’ll want to

Write your own headline

If you follow this blog, you know we try to catch readers’ eye with a turn of phrase in the title.  But when one of the defendant companies is named Bullroarer – and the FTC’s complaint alleges a massive mobile cramming scam – sometimes these posts just write themselves.  The settlement with Lin Miao, who ran the operation, is worth the attention of tech entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with the breadth of remedies available to protect consumers.

Deceptive mortgage ads hit close to home

The headline read ZIP.  ZERO.  NADA.  In big print, the ads also said 0 money down* and 0 for paid closing costs*.  Heritage Homes didn’t include ZILCH, BUPKES, or (for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans) THE BIG GOOSE EGG, but the FTC says the meaning to prospective buyers was clear.  So how much truth was in that across-the-board “zero” claim?   According to the FTC’s complaint:  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.

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