Blog Posts Tagged with Franchises, Business Opportunities, and Investments

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Banned of Sterling?

It’s not often we can draw a connection between Motown recording artist Freda Payne and an FTC law enforcement action, but here goes:  Ms. Payne topped the charts in the 70s with “Band of Gold” and the FTC recently announced a “Banned of Sterling” — a settlement with business opportunity pitchman Christopher Andrew Sterling that will ban him for life from marketing work-at-home promotions.

FTC and Colorado AG: Infomercial pitchman's promissory promises not premised on truth

According to the ubiquitous infomercials, to rake in the big bucks with Russell Dalbey’s “wealth-building” programs, all you had to do was “Find ‘Em,” “List ‘Em,” and “Make Money" — the “‘Em” being seller-financed promissory notes.  The pitch was convincing to the close to one million people who bought the programs.  But according to the FTC and Colorado AG, the defendants’ claims of quick and easy money were deceptive.

Fraud harms 25.6 million people: Anyone you know?

The FTC is always working to know more about the types of fraud being committed and who spends money on them.  Periodically, we survey consumers and ask them to share details about their recent marketplace experiences and a bit about themselves.  Our most recent survey found that nearly 11% of U.S. adults — an estimated 25.6 million people — paid for fraudulent products and services in 2011.

Fair? Enough!

Fair Guide.  Is it a list of consumer protection laws?  With summer coming, maybe ratings of the best funnel cakes and Ferris wheels?  Forgive the flight of fancy, but we see it as a great title for a compendium of blog posts about business compliance.  But that’s not what it is — not by a longshot.

Call a time-out before investing in "coaching"

Coaching isn’t just about clipboards, lanyards, and saying “Listen up” a lot.  What do winning coaches bring to a team? Leadership, personal attention, and a proven system for success.  The people who spent more than $100 million on “coaching” services sold by Ivy Capital and related companies thought that's what they were buying.  But according to an FTC lawsuit filed against dozens of defendants — and a settlement with all but five of them — that’s not what Ivy Capital delivered.

Scammers target businesses with fake emails

A favorite trick for rip-off artists is to pretend to represent a trustworthy and respected organization. Today — and we mean that literally — we’re hearing from businesses that have received email exploiting the good name of the Federal Trade Commission.  We don’t want you to lose money or valuable information to a scam artist sending a phony message claiming you’re a target of the FTC.

Cracking down on contrepreneurs

Call them contrepreneurs — marketers who use hyped-up promises to sell business opportunities to people eager to be their own boss.  As part of a federal-state blitz on bogus bizopps, the FTC announced seven law enforcement actions and developments in five other cases against outfits the agency says used illegal tactics to take more than half a billion dollars from two million Americans trying to make ends meet in a challenging economy.

Pressed for time

It’s not an easy time to be a timeshare owner.  And the last thing they need is a company making false promises that corporate buyers and renters are clamoring for their timeshares — if owners will just pony up a “registration fee” between $500 and $2,000.  According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC and Florida AG, that’s what was going on with an Orlando-based outfit called Information Management Forum.

2LEGIT2QUIT?

Last week saw FTC announcements involving allegations of foreclosure rescue fraud, deception aimed at people trying to resell their timeshares, complaints against payday lenders, and lawsuits against outfits claiming to help consumers behind on their car payments.  Is there a theme here?  You bet.  But the message isn't just for companies engaged in practices targeting consumers struggling to stay afloat.  There are words to the wise for businesses of any size and every stripe.

Buyers burned by BurnLounge

If you or your clients work in the multi-level marketing (MLM) arena, a decision by a federal judge in the FTC's lawsuit against BurnLounge, Inc., merits your attention. The defendants — the company, the CEO, and top salesmen — used claims of hefty profits to sell opportunities to run online digital music stores.  According to the FTC, the outfit masqueraded as a legitimate MLM program, but really was an illegal pyramid scheme.

All that glitters

The BCP Business Center is here to help you comply with applicable laws.  But we’re also committed to protecting business owners from deception.  That’s why it’s important you have accurate information if you’re thinking about investing in precious metals.  An ongoing FTC law enforcement action suggests that potential investors should step on the brakes if salespeople tout big money and low risks.

Quoth the Maven

In celebration of Halloween — and with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe — here’s our take on what companies can do to make sure spooky business practices don’t come back to haunt them.




Once upon a midnight lawful
Pondering practices, good and awful,
Reading through the U.S. Code
For dos and don’ts I parse and claw.

I came upon the Trade Commission’s
Section 5 with all revisions.

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.

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