Their lines of work are as different as can be: an HVAC and electrical contractor, a flooring seller, and a company that takes people on horseback rides. But according to the FTC, they have one thing in common. They all violated the Consumer Review Fairness Act. Read on for details about the FTC’s first cases solely enforcing the CRFA, the form contract provisions the FTC says contravened the law, and tips for keeping your contracts CRFA-compliant.
Blog Posts Tagged with Online Advertising and Marketing
Where do entrepreneurs go if they’re long on ideas, but short on capital? In their short history, crowdfunding platforms have often been the financial sparkplug that ignites the engine of innovation. But some campaigners promote zealously and deliver zilch. According to the FTC, a company raised over $800,000 in four crowdfunding campaigns for a high-tech backpack and other items, but used a large portion of the money on personal expenses.
“Viagra for the brain.” It’s a slogan designed to attract the attention of consumers concerned about cognition. Then there was a massive online ad campaign of “news” websites featuring supposed testimonials from people like Bill Gates and the now-late Dr. Stephen Hawking. It’s no wonder people forked over millions for supplements that went by names like Geniux, Xcel, EVO, and Ion-Z.
Gamers call them loot boxes – in-game rewards players can buy that contain a random assortment of virtual items. The loot may help players advance in an online game or allow them to customize their avatars. The rewards may be virtual, but they’ve become a very real revenue stream for game developers.
Is there anything you can’t get delivered to your front door? (And yes, home renovators will attest you can even get a front door delivered to your front door.) The burgeoning subscription model can offer convenience to customers, but only if companies honor established consumer protection principles.
It’s an illegal practice the FTC has challenged for decades: companies convincing consumers to pay for “repairs” on products that don’t really need fixing. The FTC alleges that Office Depot and service vendor Support.com engaged in a 21st century version of that misleading tactic. According to the complaint, the defendants tricked customers into spending millions on repairs by deceptively claiming they had found malware symptoms or infections on consumers’ computers.
In explaining FTC cases, we try to give readers a behind-the-scenes perspective and sometimes the most accurate insights are out of the mouths of corporate insiders. In the FTC’s first case challenging fabricated reviews on an independent retail site, consider an email from the CEO of Brooklyn-based Cure Encapsulations about a weight loss pill it was selling.
For people looking for highly-paid executive positions with private equity or venture capital firms, Worldwide Executive Job Search Solutions and PrivateEquityHeadhunters.com claimed to offer the inside track to the suite life.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the FTC staff released a Data Spotlight highlighting the category of scam with the highest amount of reported financial loss among complaint categories the FTC uses to track fraud. The category may surprise, but here’s a hint. In the words of Bon Jovi, these con artists “give love a bad name.”
Steely Dan may be one of the best duos of the rock era. (Sorry, Donnie and Marie fans.) Their song “Hey Nineteen” reminds us to mention some FTC consumer protection developments that could be of interest to your company or clients in 2019. As “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” when you’re “Reelin’ in the Years” – or at least recapping the past one – consider this non-exhaustive and in-no-particular-order case compilation.
According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, an international network of corporations and individuals put consumers through the wringer with false claims about “free” trial offers, followed by unauthorized charges to their accounts.
It started as one of those “run it up the flagpole” ideas to enlist big-name gymnasts to promote a brand of mosquito repellent just as news stories about the 2016 Brazil Olympics were sounding warnings about the Zika virus. Public relations firm Creaxion Corporation and specialty sports magazine publisher Inside Publications used a variety of digital strategies on behalf of the brand: athlete endorsements, social media posts, “advertorials,” and consumer reviews.
We’ll grudgingly give this to Innovative Paycheck Solutions and FakePayStubOnline.com.
As the song goes, “A house is not a home.” And as alleged in an FTC lawsuit against the operators of rental listing websites, sometimes an apartment isn’t an apartment.
Where do people go when considering careers in the military? Online, of course. Based on the search terms they selected, they often found themselves on sites like army.com, armyenlist.com, and similar URLs for other branches of the service. But according to an FTC complaint against Sun Key Publishing, Fanmail.com, and related defendants, what was going on behind the scenes of those sites will surprise you.
Whether it’s a slimmer waist or an imaginary yacht superimposed in the background, we’re all familiar with the dramatic changes that retouching can make to a photo. A lawsuit the FTC has filed against Tate’s Auto Group and related companies alleges – among other things – that the defendants substantially “retouched” the financial circumstances of customers trying to finance cars.
The scheme started with a Craigslist ad for a rental property and ended with a $5.2 million judgment for violations of the FTC Act, the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Free Annual File Disclosures Rule.
Like the three sides of a triangle, ROSCA – the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act – has three basic compliance requirements for online sellers who enroll consumers in continuity plans, often known as negative options. The law bans online negative options unless the seller: 1) clearly discloses all material terms of the deal before obtaining a consumer’s billing information; 2) gets the consumer’s express informed consent before making the charge; and 3) provides a simple mechanism for stopping recurring charges.