Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing Basics

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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.

FTC-SBA warning letters caution against misleading loan program claims

In the face of COVID-19, many small businesses are looking for help from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. They may apply for PPP loans through Small Business Administration-authorized lenders and others the SBA has determined to be eligible. But there are concerns that some companies have falsely claimed an affiliation with the SBA or approved PPP lenders, or have represented untruthfully that people can get PPP or other SBA loans by applying on their sites.

They use a COVID-19 pitch to sell WHAT?!

The beige envelope says IMPORTANT COVID-19 ECONOMIC STIMULUS DOCUMENT ENCLOSED. Inside – next to what appears to be the Great Seal of the United States – is the phrase COVID-19 STIMULUS (INDIVIDUAL) and a 16-digit serial number. The mailer also includes a check purporting to be from the “Stimulus Relief Program.” Is it official information affiliated with a COVID-19 economic stimulus program? We won’t leave you in suspense. It’s a car ad.

FTC again warns multi-level marketers about unproven health and earnings claims

Dear Multi-Level Marketer. Stop it. Stop all promotions that push your products by claiming they prevent or treat COVID-19. Stop all misleading or unsubstantiated promotions that push your business opportunity by claiming people can earn substantial income peddling your products. The claims are unproven and deceptive. Whether you or your distributors are making them, you’re responsible. That means you could be breaking the law.

FTC says Bronx Honda discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers

The FTC’s complaint against Bronx Honda alleges the company jacked up what consumers had to pay by fabricating fees, inflating charges, and sneaking in stealth add-ons. The lawsuit also alleges the defendants discriminated against African-American and Hispanic consumers by charging them higher financing markups and fees, in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Reg B.

$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.

Where small businesses can turn for accurate information about financial relief

As a business owner, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small business owners to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. And that source, of course, is the Small Business Administration’s dedicated page, sba.gov/coronavirus.

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 challenges Online Trading Academy’s money-making claims

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.

Voice cloning: Where WOW meets OMG

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.

Certifiably shady

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.

Pump fiction? FTC challenges claims for fuel cards

Everyone wants to save money at the pump. And no one wants to cut fuel costs more than companies – including many small businesses – that are in the trucking industry or have company cars. The FTC just filed a complaint alleging that Georgia-based FleetCor Technologies has made misleading representations in pitching its “Fuelman” and co-branded fuel cards to businesses around the country.

$191 million FTC settlement with University of Phoenix addresses deceptive employment claims

When a person is juggling job responsibilities and other commitments, why take on the extra effort of enrolling in college? As University of Phoenix’s market research revealed, career opportunities are the major motivator. That’s why University of Phoenix, a for-profit post-secondary school, created its “Let’s Get to Work” marketing campaign. The ads – some of which specifically pitched members of the military – prominently name-dropped employers like Adobe, Microsoft, and Twitter.

Sign of the times? Protecting your company from B2B deception

They may look like invoices sent to business owners for posters they may need to display in the workplace. But we think of them as unvoices – deceptively worded solicitations that tried to sell companies posters that are readily available for free. A law enforcement action just settled by the FTC and Florida Attorney General offers tips on protecting your business from this form of B2B deception.

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.

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