Blog Entry March 2014

Default lines: How the FTC says Credit Karma and Fandango SSLighted security settings

Imagine a burly doorman at an exclusive party.  When someone claims to be a guest, the doorman checks their invitation and runs it against the names on the list.  If it doesn’t match up, the person won’t make it through the velvet rope.  But what happens if the doorman isn’t doing his job?  His lapse could allow a ringer into the party to scarf up the hors d’oeuvres and steal the valuables. 

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It only takes a moment

An FTC Moment, that is.  2014 marks a milestone for the Federal Trade Commission.  It’s the 100th birthday for America’s consumer protection agency – and you’re invited to the celebration. 

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Zero sum game?

For people in the market for a car, an ad on YouTube for Massachusetts-based Courtesy Auto Group featured some eye-catching numbers:  “Get behind the wheel of the new 2013 Kia Sorento, now lease priced for $239 a month with zero down, or sale priced at $20,980.”  To emphasize the point, the visual on the screen highlighted in bold letters:

$239/mo
with $0 down

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Alcohol advertising, ad placement, and self-regulation

If you’re a stats fan – the kind that can recalculate a pitcher’s ERA before the runner slides across the plate – the release of the FTC’s fourth major study on the alcohol industry offers a wealth of empirical data for your consideration.  Based on information submitted by 14 companies in response to FTC Special Orders, the study focuses on alcohol advertising and industry efforts to reduce marketing to underage audiences. 

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Judge rules on reach of FTC Act

When the FTC sued payday lender AMG Services in 2012, the complaint charged the defendants with a host of deceptive and unfair practices aimed at consumers already struggling to make ends meet.  Undisclosed fees and debt collection calls that threatened arrest were just a few of the allegations.  The defendants countered with an interesting defense:  that their affiliation with American Indian tribes rendered them beyond the reach of the FTC Act.  A U.S.

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Some good news about funerals

Good news?  About funerals?  That’s not a headline you read every day.  But the results of the FTC’s latest undercover inspections to check if funeral homes are complying with the Funeral Rule yielded some positive results – and sounded cautionary notes for some members of the industry.

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Keeping up with the Jonesboros

“A word to the wise should be sufficient.”  We’re not sure who first coined that proverb.  Aesop?  King Solomon?  Ben Franklin?  But whoever it was, if he's in the market for a used car in Arkansas, here’s news he might want to consider.

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Needle and threats

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lays out some pretty clear dos and don’ts for debt collectors.  Do identify yourself as a debt collector.  Do follow up within five days of your initial communication with a written notice setting out the amount of the debt, the creditor's name, and details about how consumers can proceed if they dispute the debt.  Now for some don’ts:  Don’t imply a government affiliation.  Don’t accuse people of a crime or threaten them with arrest.

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Generation gap?

There’s not much talk anymore about the Generation Gap – at least not in terms of crazy teens and their rock ‘n’ roll music.  But there’s another kind of Generation Gap that has the FTC concerned:  the compliance gap between the established standards of the National Do Not Call Registry and the way some companies are using lists from lead generators without careful consideration of how those lists were compiled.  An FTC set

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What’s a predictive score?

Most consumers know that creditors use information about them and their credit experiences – like the number and type of accounts they have, their bill paying history, and whether they pay their bills on time – to create a credit score, which helps predict how creditworthy they are.

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FTC, EEOC offer FCRA 411

When someone mentions the FTC, the EEOC, and the FCRA in the same sentence, it may sound like a ladle of alphabet soup.  What’s really being served up is a new joint publication by the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that talks about how the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the mandate to comply with anti-discrimination laws intersect when employers use background checks in personnel decisions.

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Do you sell health products? Court opinion offers truth-in-advertising recap

Advertisers that sell health products should know the legal standards by now, but to those resistant to the message, a federal judge in California spelled them out again in a $2.2 million judgment against the marketers of two diabetes products – Diabetic Pack and Insulin Resistance Pack.

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FTC settlement with ADT sounds alarm about deceptive use of paid endorsers

Consumers who tuned in to programs like the Today Show, Daybreak USA, and local newscasts may have caught interviews with guests billed as “The Safety Mom,” a home security expert, or a tech expert.  Among the products they reviewed was ADT’s Pulse Home Monitoring System.  Describing it as “amazing” or “incredible,” they offered glowing details about its capabilities, safety benefits, and cost.  But according to the FTC, here's one material fact that wasn’t discussed:  ADT had paid the three spokespersons a total of mor

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Happy NSCTTHTPWHECL Week

To the FTC and our 74 local, state, federal, and non-profit partners, March 2nd through 8th is National Consumer Protection Week.  But when you think about it, it’s a time for businesses to celebrate, too.  It’s just that National Shout-Out to Companies that Tell the Truth, Honor Their Promises, and Work Hard to Earn Customers’ Loyalty Week wouldn’t fit neatly on a button or banner.

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Statue of limitations?

The awards season may be over for the entertainment industry, but it’s time for consumer protection to take its turn on the red carpet. (Of course, no one should ever have to ask “Who are you wearing?”  A quick look at the label and a search in the FTC’s RN Database will provide that information instantly.)   If we were giving out the statuettes, here are some of the winners from movies and TV.

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