The FTC has been warning consumers for years about impersonation scams – calls that falsely claim to come from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or other offices or businesses. The messages try to coerce people into making immediate payments or turning over sensitive personal information.
Blog Posts Tagged with Online Advertising and Marketing
Employing every available means to protect consumers from deceptive and misleading practices, the FTC recently announced the revitalized use of its statutory Penalty Offense Authority. More than 700 businesses – top consumer products companies, leading retailers and retail platforms, major ad agencies, and other names you know – are recipients of the latest Notice of Penalty Offenses aimed at curbing illegal practices in the use of endorsements and testimonials.
No one can top Waylon Jennings’ invitation to Luckenbach, Texas, where people can get “Back to the Basics of Love.” But we can offer the next best thing for business executives, advertising professionals, and attorneys: a virtual invitation to Dallas, Texas, on June 24, 2021, to get back to the basics of law.
We’ll leave it to the economists to crunch the employment numbers. We’re just happy to see more Help Wanted signs in the windows of Main Street retailers. That’s good news for Americans affected by pandemic-related layoffs. As companies are getting back to business and returning to an in-person workplace, the FTC has some tips for job seekers.
As the fast-talking talent scout said in a hundred Hollywood classics, “I’m gonna put you in the movies!” MoviePass promised to put consumers in the movies – or at least in movie theaters – with its $9.95 per month “one movie per day” subscription plan.
Like the fighter pilots in the 80s action flick “Top Gun,” consumers selecting among internet service providers “feel the need – the need for speed.” In a just-filed lawsuit, the FTC and seven law enforcement partners allege that ISP Frontier Communications Corporation has made misleading representations that it would provide consumers with certain internet service speeds.
Thinking about adding cryptocurrency to your investment portfolio? The number of Americans investing in cryptocurrency has increased. But as a new FTC Consumer Protection Data Spotlight suggests, the number who report getting stung by cryptocurrency investment scams has skyrocketed.
Have you marked your calendar for April 29, 2021, to attend Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop? The virtual event will examine digital “dark patterns,” potentially deceptive or unfair user interfaces on websites and mobile apps. In addition to your participation, the FTC is asking for research and public comments on topics related to the workshop.
Misleading tactics in the sale of magazine subscriptions is an illegal practice the FTC has challenged in numerous cases. But an action just filed by the FTC and the State of Florida focuses on a new audience allegedly targeted for deception: the families of people who are incarcerated and inmates themselves. The pending case also suggests compliance reminders that apply to companies in just about any industry.
It’s like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. Our hero enters a cave in search of treasure and every labyrinthine turn poses another unexpected hazard – trip-wired blades, runaway boulders, and snakes (“I hate snakes”). But we’re not talking about a rollicking adventure flick. We’re describing the experience of many online shoppers as they navigate some companies’ websites to avoid digital danger – for example, extra items showing up in a consumer’s cart, unauthorized charges, or the unintended disclosure of personal information.
Online romance may begin with Panic! At The Disco’s High Hopes, but according to a new FTC Data Spotlight, all too often it ends with the conclusion that – to quote the J. Geils Band – Love Stinks.
A lot has been said about changes to the marketplace spurred by the gig economy, but some things remain constant, including established truth-in-advertising principles. Amazon told delivery drivers in its Amazon Flex program – as well as customers who placed orders through services like Prime Now and AmazonFresh – that 100% of tips would go directly to the drivers. But according to an FTC lawsuit, for a period of more than two years, Amazon secretly pocketed over $61 million of those tips.
Remember live music? Remember the thrill of enjoying a performance or sporting event with a packed house of fans? As we look forward to a return to in-person entertainment, it’s easy to forget the frustration of trying to buy tickets as soon as online sales opened only to be shut out by companies that used tricks to grab them up and sell them at much higher prices. That’s the conduct Congress intended to stop with the passage of the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act.
For years, the FTC has warned about imposters – scammers who masquerade as government officials, financial institutions, family members, etc., in an attempt to flimflam consumers and businesses. The FTC just filed a lawsuit alleging a variation on the imposter scheme. According to the complaint, the defendants set up dozens of look-alike websites to fool people into thinking they were ordering name-brand merchandise from established national companies.
“UNLIMITED Minutes.” “UNLIMITED TALK.” “‘UNLIMITED MINUTES’ We do not charge ‘per-minute’.” Those are notable claims for anyone shopping for telecom services, including consumers who want to maintain family ties with relatives who are incarcerated.
What’s in a name? According to an FTC lawsuit filed in April, if you’re an outfit that uses the name “SBA Loan Program” – and you falsely claim to be an approved lender for the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus relief lending program – what’s in your name is deception. Under the terms of a settlement, that shady tactic stops right here, right now.
Online subscription services can be a convenience for consumers and a boon for business – especially now that so many people are shopping from home. But under the law, companies have an obligation to explain the details of the deal up front, clearly disclose any automatic renewal terms, get consumers’ express consent before billing, and offer simple ways to cancel.
Every day, the FTC is collecting data, watching the numbers, and spotting the trends. We’re also spreading the word about COVID-19-related scams that target consumers and businesses. Because the more you know about what’s happening, the easier it will be to protect yourself and others from these scams.
As parents know, kids spend a huge amount of time online, especially now with COVID-19 school and camp closures. They get ideas from influencers on social media and video platforms, make purchases on their smartphones, and influence a lot of family spending. This phenomenon is not limited to the U.S. alone.