When scammers and hackers attack small businesses, it hurts not only the businesses’ reputations and bottom line, but also the integrity of the marketplace. Today, FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen announced a new FTC website, FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, to help business owners avoid scams, protect their computers and networks, and keep their customers’ and employees’ data safe.
Blog Posts Tagged with Franchises, Business Opportunities, and Investments
There are oldies but goodies. Then there are oldies and baddies. The FTC warns people looking for business opportunities to watch out for trendy tech scams and retro rip-offs. A New Jersey-based outfit cranked the Wayback Machine into overdrive by putting a contemporary spin on what may be one of the granddaddies of all bogus bizopps.
There was a twisted kind of accuracy in one of the company names used by a Phoenix-based outfit that peddled business opportunities. It was called “Building Money” and build it they did. The problem was that they built it for themselves – and not for the older consumers, military veterans, and folks on fixed incomes the FTC says they bilked out of millions of dollars.
Threats of imprisonment, warnings about extortion, and a security team allegedly comprised of ex-Israeli Special Ops trained in Krav Maga? It sounds like an action-packed movie plot, but it’s all related to a complaint filed by the FTC. And you’ll never guess the nature of the defendants’ business.
They sell patent and invention promotion services – or at least that’s what defendants World Patent Marketing, Desa Industries, and CEO Scott Cooper claim.
Today kicks off National Consumer Protection Week, but what the FTC does to protect consumers is only part of the story. We also work hard to help small business get down to business. Here are just a few examples of what we’re doing to protect your business from deceptive practices.
In promotional materials to attract prospective drivers, ride-hailing company Uber Technologies touted how much money drivers would earn and the favorable terms they could get by financing a car through Uber’s Vehicle Solutions Program. But according to an FTC complaint, Uber exaggerated those earnings claims and misrepresented the terms of its Vehicle Solutions Program.
“Just like the white winged dove sings a song,” you can count on the BCP Business Blog to celebrate the “Edge of Seventeen” – 2017, of course – with a recap of in-case-you-missed-it developments from 2016. (Sorry, Stevie Nicks. That was a stretch.) In no particular order, here is our take on ten noteworthy consumer protection actions from the year gone by.
Promoting a “Young People’s Revolution,” multi-level marketer Vemma pitched its business opportunity to college students and other young adults as a big-money, fast-lane alternative to “the traditional 9-to-5.” In 2015, the FTC sued Vemma and related parties, alleging that its smoke-and-mirrors earnings claims were obscuring the true nature of what Vemma was up to. As a result of an FTC settlement, there’s a revolution underway all right.
Here are some truths about Grants.
Ulysses was the 18th president.
Cary was a suave star of the silver screen.
Former NBA great Horace wore the coolest goggles in the game.
There’s an upcoming gotta-be-there trade show for your industry. Your company gets a form in the mail from a P.O. box in the Chicago area asking to confirm your address for a trade show listing. You or a staffer signs without giving it a second thought – until you get the surprise of a lifetime.
Multi-level marketer Herbalife will pay $200 million back to people who were taken in by what the FTC alleges were misleading moneymaking claims. But when it comes to protecting consumers, that may not be the most important part of the just-announced settlement. What could matter more than $200 million? An order that requires Herbalife to restructure its business from top to bottom – and to start complying with the law.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The Italian Job. The Lords of the Rings. The quest for gold is a common theme in action films. But for many consumers who sent money to Encino, California-based Discount Gold Brokers, a lawsuit filed by the FTC alleges that the adventure has turned into a horror movie.
Please don’t tell the other entries in the Code of Federal Regulations – we wouldn’t want to stir up jealousies – but Business Blog readers have probably detected our fondness for 16 C.F.R. § 304.
Remember the scene in the movie “Bull Durham” where veteran Crash Davis is prepping rookie Nuke LaLoosh for a TV interview and schools him on clichés about teamwork? “I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help.” They don’t just apply to baseball. Most enterprises rely on help from others on the team. Unfortunately for consumers, that includes questionable outfits that need another company’s help to accept credit cards.
Marketers of Vemma juice drinks went to college campuses and elsewhere to recruit “affiliates” for their “opportunity.” Affiliates were encouraged to recruit more affiliates, who in turn would recruit more affiliates, who in turn . . . . You get the picture: Lather, rinse, repeat.
Thinking about crowdfunding to raise money for your latest project? If so, you’ll want to pay attention to the FTC’s first crowdfunding case. The lesson: If you launch a crowdfunding campaign, keep your promises.
It’s graduation season. How’s this for a truthful take on the usual oratory?
Esteemed guests and distinguished graduates, despite what we said in our ads, many of you just got a degree or diploma that won’t qualify you to get the licenses you need to land a job in your field. And don’t count on your credits transferring to four-year colleges. But thanks for the thousands of dollars you paid out of your own pocket!
What do mystery writers, magicians, and some small business scammers have in common? The art of misdirection. But when it comes to small business scammers, we’re on to their tricks. Today the FTC announced that, at its request, a federal court stopped yellow page scammers that were targeting businesses all over the U.S. with a series of ploys. According to the FTC, this is how it worked.