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.
Blog Posts Tagged with Online Advertising and Marketing
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.
Ohioans know how to handle the virtually impossible.
“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.
Natives and fans heartily agree that “Cleveland Rocks!” That’s why the Federal Trade Commission and its Ohio partners are ready to roll with the next installment of Green Lights & Red Flags: FTC Rules of the Road for Business, set to make its online debut on October 29, 2020, from Cleveland.
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.
If you’re unfamiliar with loot boxes, you probably don’t have clients in the video game industry, aren’t a gamer yourself, or aren’t the parent of one.
Consumers and small businesses want personal protective equipment now. So when companies advertise those items online with promises of in-stock merchandise and fast shipping, those claims may be the difference between a big sale and no sale.
As adage-writers go, whoever penned, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” should have looked for another line of work. And, the writer should have hoped that prospective employers wouldn’t spot a promotion for MyLife.com, saying they could see the writer’s criminal and sexual offender records by subscribing to MyLife’s background reports.
An online company advertising consumer goods, including personal protective equipment like masks and respirators, does business under the name SuperGoodDeals.com. But based on the illegal conduct alleged in a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, maybe it’s because the URL SuperDeceptivePractices.com was already taken.
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.
Attending live performances and sporting events again is just one of the things people are looking forward to. But when that time comes, the issues raised at the FTC’s That’s the Ticket workshop will still affect consumers.