Blog Posts Tagged with Online Advertising and Marketing

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Lights out on unsubstantiated pain relief claims and deceptive native advertising

For consumers struggling with severe or chronic pain, ads for a product called Willow Curve appeared to offer light at the end of the tunnel. But the FTC alleges the marketers made false and unsubstantiated claims for the product, a device that applied low-level light and mild heat to the site of pain – and set people back between $599 and $799 in the process. The proposed settlement also sheds light on the FTC’s ongoing concern with deceptive native advertising.

$9.3 million FTC settlement suggests Mail Order Rule compliance is always in style

Trend-conscious buyers want the latest styles ASAP and online retailer Fashion Nova reinforced those expectations by promising “Fast Shipping,” “2-Day Shipping,” and “Expect Your Items Quick!” But according to the FTC, the California company’s shipment delays violated the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and left consumers haute under the collar. The $9.3 million settlement is the largest ever in a case of its kind.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Shipping basics for your business

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.

FTC’s Teami case: Spilling the tea about influencers and advertisers

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.

FTC alleges deception in “unbiased” review site’s ratings and rankings

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?

FTC settlement returns $60 million to consumers affected by AT&T’s throttling practices

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.

Scams and the older consumer: Some surprising findings

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.

Great American Fake-Off? FTC cases challenge bogus influencer metrics and fake reviews

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.

Charity fraud awareness, here & abroad: How businesses can help charities defend against cyber threats

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.

Settlement with operator of post-secondary schools offers an education about lead generation

Colleges are known for team sports, but it’s an unfortunate fact that consumer deception can be a team sport, too. A proposed FTC settlement with Career Education Corporation, American InterContinental University, Colorado Technical University, and related defendants alleges they used illegal game plans to lure consumers to their post-secondary and vocational schools.

Ready Panel One: FTC workshop considers consumer implications of loot boxes

For members of the videogame industry, loot boxes are no game. They’re a serious part of the revenue stream. But do loot boxes – grab bags of digital goodies bought with in-game virtual currency or real money – raise consumer protection concerns? What about the potential impact on young consumers?

Consumer gag clauses: Totally not awesome under CRFA

Moon Unit Zappa’s 1982 song “Valley Girl” popularized the phrase “gag me with a spoon.” We doubt the lyric “gag me with a form contract clause” would have been a hit, but it’s among the tactics expressly outlawed by the Consumer Review Fairness Act. As two proposed settlements demonstrate, the FTC thinks gag clauses and similar non-disparagement provisions that violate the CRFA are – to quote Ms. Zappa – grody to the max.

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