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.
Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top picks, star ratings, in-depth reviews. Many consumers don’t buy anything without consulting third-party review sites or checking out the opinions of other customers. But how often are those ratings the product of buying and selling between the “independent” site and companies willing to pay for better play? And are those reviews really from satisfied customers or are they from employees acting on instructions to stuff the ballot box with five-star ratings?
We usually wouldn’t suggest you read someone else’s mail, but FTC staff just sent letters to 19 providers of VoIP telephone services and the underlying message about the breadth of liability for consumer protection violations is relevant to other businesses.
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.
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.