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 Advertising and Marketing Basics
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.
Remember the old Superman movie where the Man of Steel squeezed carbon in his hand to create a diamond? That’s not how it’s done, but these days not everything sparkly comes from a mine. In addition to mined diamonds, consumers can choose simulated diamonds or diamonds created in a laboratory. What matters to consumers – and the FTC – is that companies accurately describe what they’re selling.
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.
First, the bad news: That nifty purchase needs a repair. Now the good news for consumers: It’s still under warranty. But where can they go to get it fixed? Can the manufacturer restrict a consumer’s ability to go to the independent repair shop of their choice? Can the manufacturer use glue, non-standard screws, and proprietary diagnostic software that make it difficult for independent repair shops to fix things?
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.
When the FTC warns consumers about government imposter scams, we’re usually referring to bogus calls that falsely claim to come from the IRS or some other official office. But as a case just announced by the FTC demonstrates, that’s not the only kind of false government affiliation that can deceive consumers.
Here’s something likely to make consumers start firing on all cylinders: receiving an “URGENT RECALL NOTICE” in the mail with a “warning” that their vehicle “may be under an important factory/safety recall.” But according to an FTC lawsuit against the Passport group of car dealerships in the Washington, D.C., area, the vast majority of people who received those notices didn’t have a vehicle subject to an open recall.
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.
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.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. But the same can’t be said for a mailer that looks like an official invoice. It could be an “o-fishy-al” offer that deceptively mimics the appearance of a government document.
There isn’t an actual procedure called an honest-ectomy. But when you hear allegations about scammers who solicit donations for veterans’ charities and then pocket the contributions, you’ve got to wonder.
Small business keeps America in business. But while you have your shoulder to the wheel and nose to the grindstone, it can be tough to keep an eye out for scammers. That’s why the FTC and law enforcement partners across the country have your back. Just one example is Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams, a coordinated initiative involving 24 civil and criminal actions against B2B fraudsters.
It’s unfortunate, but it happens. First came cryptocurrency. Then came the cryptocurrency crooks. In the emerging cryptocurrency marketplace, what needs to be done to protect consumers from scams, schemes, and swindles? That’s the topic of a half-day workshop on June 25, 2018, in Chicago, and the FTC just announced the agenda.
Chances are that people you know were duped by scammers and wired the money via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. This Thursday, May 31st, is the deadline for consumers to file claims to get money back from the FTC’s and the Department of Justice’s settlement with Western Union. Do your friends a favor and tell them about the deadline.
Vision Solution Marketing and related defendants pitch services to prospective entrepreneurs and people looking to supplement their income. Among the defendants’ products is business “coaching” that sets people back as much as $13,995. But given the host of alleged misrepresentations cited in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Utah, the FTC says the defendants definitely aren’t playing on consumers’ team.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. According to warning letters from the FDA and FTC, certain sellers of e-liquids – flavorings for e-cigarettes – are using packaging that imitates foods or beverages popular with children. Little kids who ingest what’s inside boxes that appear to be apple juice, cookies, candy, etc., risk acute nicotine toxicity, poisoning that can result in seizure, coma, cardiac and respiratory arrest, and death.