When people report scams, deceptive practices, or identity theft, the FTC and other members of the Consumer Sentinel Network regularly use that data for law enforcement purposes. But now we’re examining the information in innovative and interactive ways – and you can, too. The FTC just produced a video featuring Paul Witt, the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Sultan of Stats.
Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing
Have you had this experience? You hear about a remarkable innovation, but before you can finish the phrase “That’s amaz . . . .” you’ve already jumped ahead to the questions and concerns it raises. That’s how many people are responding to voice cloning – emerging technologies that let users make near-perfect reproductions of a person’s voice.
California-based mortgage broker Mortgage Solutions FCS also does business under the name Mount Diablo Lending. And according to the FTC, the company gave consumers a devil of a time if they posted negative reviews on Yelp. Is your business pondering how to address unfavorable consumer comments?
Cruise ships should conjure up images of umbrella drinks, shuffleboard, and the Lido Deck – not a sea of annoying robocalls. But according to the FTC, Grand Bahama Cruise Line and others unleashed a tidal wave of illegal calls purportedly pitching free vacations to consumers. The FTC has filed suit against the company and six related defendants. Also announced today: settlements with a call center and three individuals involved in the operation.
Certificates of Existence, Status, or Good Standing – sounds like an existential crisis, right? Instead of a philosophical commentary on the meaning of life, the certificates in question refer to business documentation from your state or local government. In a new twist on an old scam, some not-so-honest outfits may try to confuse you into thinking they’re from the government and that you need to pay for certain documents to operate your business.
They say hindsight is 20/20, but what about foresight? We’re not ones to prognosticate, but a look at notable FTC cases and initiatives from the past year suggests some topics likely to be top of mind in months to come. Here is a non-exhaustive list of issues in our 2019 rearview mirror and likely visible through the 2020 windshield.
Everyone wants to save money at the pump. And no one wants to cut fuel costs more than companies – including many small businesses – that are in the trucking industry or have company cars. The FTC just filed a complaint alleging that Georgia-based FleetCor Technologies has made misleading representations in pitching its “Fuelman” and co-branded fuel cards to businesses around the country.
When a person is juggling job responsibilities and other commitments, why take on the extra effort of enrolling in college? As University of Phoenix’s market research revealed, career opportunities are the major motivator. That’s why University of Phoenix, a for-profit post-secondary school, created its “Let’s Get to Work” marketing campaign. The ads – some of which specifically pitched members of the military – prominently name-dropped employers like Adobe, Microsoft, and Twitter.
They may look like invoices sent to business owners for posters they may need to display in the workplace. But we think of them as unvoices – deceptively worded solicitations that tried to sell companies posters that are readily available for free. A law enforcement action just settled by the FTC and Florida Attorney General offers tips on protecting your business from this form of B2B deception.
The sellers of Synovia claimed their dietary supplement “paves the pot holes” in joints damaged by arthritis. But an FTC lawsuit alleges the primary pot holes were in the company’s purported proof, which left consumers streamrollered by false and deceptive advertising claims.
The FTC and its law enforcement partners are waging the war against illegal telemarketing on many fronts. An amended complaint in a pending case filed by the FTC and the Ohio Attorney General seeks to hold an additional adversary responsible for violations of the law: Globex Telecom, a VoIP service provider that allegedly played a key role in subjecting consumers to a barrage of illegal calls for a bogus credit card interest rate reduction scheme.
Are you an influencer who works with brands to recommend or endorse products or services in social media? Or perhaps you’re an advertiser that uses influencers in your marketing. The FTC just issued a publication you need to know about: Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers. And that’s not all.
Sometimes FTC cases affirm important legal principles in the courtroom. In other cases, we’re able to get money back for consumers injured by a company’s illegal conduct. The FTC’s action against AT&T for allegedly deceptive and unfair practices related to AT&T’s promises of “unlimited data” resulted in a key ruling last year about the FTC’s jurisdiction and will return $60 million to affected consumers.
Imagine people who have lost the ability to speak communicating in a digital version of their own voice. With just a brief recorded snippet, researchers can use artificial intelligence and text-to-speech synthesis to create a near-perfect voice clone. But it takes even less time to imagine how fraudsters could use that technology to further their scams.
In tribute to the baseball season that’s just ended, we’ll start this blog post about an alleged pyramid scheme and supposed miraculous dietary supplements with the words of the great Yogi Berra: “It's like déjà vu all over again.”
They’re called “notices,” but do consumers really notice them? Convening at 9:00 Eastern Time this morning, October 29th, Consumers and Class Action Notices: An FTC Workshop will take a closer look at what the research – including a recent FTC staff report – tells us about class action notices, refund methods, claims rates, and related issues.
Aloe and cranberry: a useful plant and a nutritious fruit. But are they clinically proven alone or in combination to treat diabetes, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, and a list of other serious medical conditions that afflict Boomer Consumers? According to the FTC, those are just some of the deceptive claims that Florida-based NatureCity, LLC, made for TrueAloe capsules and AloeCran powdered drink mix.
There are perceptions some people seem to have about older consumers – and then there’s the data we see in fraud reports from consumers of that age group. Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission calls some common beliefs into question while offering concrete advice to help you, your employees, and others in your community protect older adults from fraud.
There isn’t a competition to find ways to use social media to mislead consumers. (At least we hope there isn’t.) But with apologies to fans of a certain British baking program, separate FTC actions just might qualify two companies as “Star Fakers” for fabricating followers and skewing reviews. The cases demonstrate why cooking up deceptive tactics could land your business on an episode of The Great American Fake-Off.
It’s International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, a global effort to help charities and donors avoid charity fraud. The FTC has united with state charities regulators, the National Association of State Charities Officials, and international partners in the campaign. By joining forces, we can reach more charities with information and advice. This year, the focus is on what charities can do to help defend against cyber threats.