Blog Posts Tagged with Franchises, Business Opportunities, and Investments

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Patent (s)pending

If necessity is the mother of invention, bogus invention promotion companies are the sketchy brothers-in-law. That’s why inventors who think they may have that Next Big Thing should investigate thoroughly before signing on with a firm that promises to evaluate, patent, and market an innovation. Some make pie-in-the-sky promises, but serve up crumbs.

Closed encounters of the third kind

Savvy executives like to stay in the loop on FTC activities that could affect their industry.   They make it a habit to scan the headlines or check for relevant workshops or reports.  But there’s a third category of information a bit less understood: closing letters from BCP staff.

In the spirit of transparency, the agency posts them online.  Here in the BCP Business Center, recent letters appear in the Compliance Documents section of each topic area.

Throwing the book at 'em

A fax comes through at the office looking like it’s a form to re-up your existing phone directory listing.  It includes information about your business, a “Yellow Page ID number,” and a familiar “walking fingers” logo.  The fax, not addressed to any particular person or department in your company, instructs the recipient to sign and send the form back by an impending deadline.  Buried in fine print is the only indication the fax is really a solicitation for new business.

Accounts deceivable

Perhaps you see cops on the beat when they pass by your office. Maybe you serve on a committee with the Chief of Police or have a relative in the Sheriff’s Department. However you cross paths with local law enforcement, do them — and yourself — a favor by telling them about Consumer Sentinel.

Room with review

Is your briefcase feeling lighter? That’s because your dog-eared copy of Volume 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations (where most FTC rules and guides live) is decidedly thinner these days. For the past two decades, the agency has undertaken a systematic review of its rules and guides to make sure they’re up to date, effective, and not overly burdensome. As each rule comes up for review, we ask ourselves — and you — four questions:

It's all about the order

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Law enforcers often ask themselves a similar question:  “If a lawsuit reaches final judgment without concrete protections in place for the future, does it have any impact?”  That explains the FTC’s keen interest in remedies with the teeth necessary to do the job.  Simply put, when it comes to consumer protection, it’s all about the order.

“Find ‘em, list ‘em, and make money”? Not so fast, say the FTC and Colorado AG

You run a successful business or maybe you work with some of the top companies in the country. A friend or relative is struggling to climb out of a financial hole. They ask for advice about a can’t-miss “wealth-building program.” Do them a favor and suggest they apply the brakes before shelling out a penny.

Hacked Off by an Email Data Breach?

According to news reports, hackers recently accessed the database of Epsilon, a large marketing company that sends emails on behalf of banks, stores and other businesses.  Was your company an Epsilon client?  If so, the stolen information could make it easier for crooks to send emails that appear to be from your brand.

Here are a few things you can do to help your customers avoid a phishing attack that abuses your brand.

The Inside Scoop from the Bizopp Cops

When the economic climate is uncertain, people tend to evaluate their options:  Is a career move in the cards?  Can a home-based business supplement my salary?  Is now the time to be my own boss?

But if there's one lesson from Operation Empty Promises — a federal-state sweep involving more than 90 law enforcement actions — it's that entrepreneurs should take their time and resist high-pressure tactics when operators claim to have the inside track on enhanced income.

Be your own boss?

Especially in a tough economic climate, it’s an attractive claim.  But as demonstrated by Operation Empty Promises — a multi-agency law enforcement initiative announced today — many companies promoting online opportunities, steady employment, or home business success promise the golden goose, but deliver a goose egg.

Keeping it cool at WiFi hotspots

Whether you’re waiting to board an airplane or grabbing a quick cuppa at a neighborhood café, public wireless networks are a great way for busy professionals to keep connected.

Convenient?  Yes.  Secure?  Mmm, not so much.

Unfortunately, most hotspots don’t encrypt what goes over the internet.  So if you send email, manage your calendar, use social networks, or transmit financial data while using a public network, you make it easier for hackers to lift confidential info like user names, passwords, and account numbers.

A Friendly Reminder

Paying millions in refunds.
Doing business under stringent injunctive provisions.
Posting hefty bonds before selling certain products.

For most people, the potential consequences of an FTC enforcement action are enough deterrent to stay within the bounds of the law.  But some marketers just don’t seem to get the message, as two recent cases demonstrate.

Four Steps to Protecting Your Business from Con Artists

You've just opened an invoice for office supplies you didn't order or for a listing in a business directory. It’s the same invoice you got last week – but this one is stamped "Past Due." Perhaps one of your colleagues says there's someone hounding her on the phone, demanding payment for Internet services your business didn’t request. You refuse to pay, and the next thing you know, they're threatening to take you to court, or turn the bill over to a collection agency and ruin your credit.

Data Security: Copi-er That!

If your company keeps sensitive data like Social Security numbers, credit reports, account numbers, health records, or business secrets, you’ve probably instituted safeguards to protect that information, whether it’s stored in computers or on paper. That’s great.  But it’s time to take those safeguards a step further.

It's in the cards

The hot present this holiday season is plastic: gift cards from popular online and brick-and-mortar retailers. But this year’s cards come wrapped in important new protections for people who buy and use them.

Tales From the Unencrypted

Does your business have a wireless network?  Do you or your employees ever use wifi to catch up on work from home?  Think about all the data that could be transmitted over your wireless network – credit card numbers, bank account information, business secrets.  You probably don’t want to share that information with everyone who passes through your neighborhood.  But that’s what you’re doing if you don’t use strong encryption and take other steps to secure your home network.  Someone nearby could “piggyback” on your network, or even access the information on your computer.

FTC Staff Recommends Changes to Business Opportunity Rule

The FTC's Biz Opp Cops have recommended that the Business Opportunity Rule be expanded to include work-at-home opportunities like envelope stuffing, medical billing, and product assembly, many of which have not been covered before. An FTC staff report outlines other suggested changes, including streamlining the disclosures required by the Rule so that people buying business opportunities get important info in a simple, easy-to-rea

On the Road Again

This is National Chemistry Week. It’s also National School Bus Week. And be sure to wish members of Team Jacob a happy National Wolf Awareness Week. But for most business travelers, the annual observance that really hits home – or the road – is National Protect Your Identity Week, October 17th through 23rd.

NetCetera Community Outreach Toolkit

Maybe you work in the tech sector.  Perhaps your firm has clients with a big internet presence.  Or maybe you're responsible for paying attention to how your family uses the computer.  That's why you'll want to know about the Net Cetera Community Outreach Toolkit, a free resource just released by OnGuardOnline.gov.

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