Category Archives: Consumer Protection

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Five “Lessons” for Lead Generation Advertisers

Law enforcement, workshops, and reports from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have yielded five “lessons” for lead generation advertisers, according to an article that was published last month in Law360 by Andrew Smith, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. In it, he suggests that companies that purchase lead generation advertising must manage lead generators responsibly, … Continue Reading

The FTC’s Negative View of Negative Options – Are Expanded Regulations Coming?

The Federal Trade Commission’s “Negative Option Rule” is up for review, and the FTC is steering toward stricter regulations for automatic renewal plans and subscription programs. The FTC completed its last regulatory review of the Negative Option Rule in 2014 and decided then to retain the rule in its current form. But, will this time … Continue Reading

Mr. Smith Goes to New York: Takeaways from the Keynote Address of the FTC’s Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the NAD Annual Conference

The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) held its Annual Conference in New York yesterday. Andrew Smith, the head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection for the FTC, delivered the keynote address and provided attendees with an excellent overview of the past year’s landmark decisions in FTC jurisprudence. For those who frequent this blog, it comes as … Continue Reading

When Skiptracing + Autodialing = $267 Million

Last week, companies engaged in debt collection were not-so-gently reminded that making calls using an automated dialer to any number other than the one provided by the consumer is incredibly risky—and in Rash Curtis & Associates’ case, a $267 million risk. Calls made to phone numbers with the consumer’s prior express consent are not prohibited … Continue Reading

FTC Reminds Crowdfunders: Deliver on Your Promises or Refund

Crowdfunding plays an important role in democratizing access to capital for small entrepreneurs, but as we’ve written before, entrepreneurs of every ilk need to remember that their representations to consumers need to be truthful, accurate and not misleading. Last month, the FTC filed a complaint against Douglas Monahan and his company iBackPack of Texas, LLC, … Continue Reading

Online Lender Settles with FTC on UDAP, TSR, and EFTA Claims

The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with an online consumer lending platform, Avant LLC, highlights the importance of legal and regulatory compliance in the fintech space, including—perhaps most importantly—what happens after a loan is made. According to the Commission’s complaint, Avant offered personal consumer loans through its website. The complaint notes that although the loans were … Continue Reading

Fraudsters and Facilitators, Privacy and Penalties, Shire and Selection: The FTC’s Plans for Consumer Protection

Winding down the 67th Antitrust Law Spring Meeting last week, Andrew Smith, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (the “Bureau”), provided an overview of the FTC’s consumer protection priorities. Director Smith reiterated that Chairman Simons’ focus on law enforcement applies across the Bureau’s five major areas: marketing, finance, advertising, privacy, and enforcement. … Continue Reading

Think Asterisks Don’t Matter?*

Every brand that has designed a product label has felt the call of the asterisk. Visual real estate on packaging and in advertisements is limited, and marketing departments often groan at the piles of clumsy language that legal departments insist make it onto the page. But the elegant solution—dropping an asterisk and including the disclaimers, … Continue Reading

Mastercard Targets Negative Options In 2019 – Demands Transparency

As 2019 goes into full swing, it’s important for providers of payment processing services (referred to here as “acquirers”) and their merchants or submerchants to prepare for the various regulatory and industry changes coming this year. One such significant change comes in the form of Mastercard’s updated rules for negative option billing programs. Set to … Continue Reading

Hanging Out to Dry: FTC’s Ongoing Pursuit of Credit Card Laundering has Reached an Apex

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) continues to crack down on companies engaged in credit card laundering. Credit card laundering is the practice of processing credit card transactions for one company through the merchant processing account of another company. Credit card laundering can be used to bypass the monitoring practices and volume thresholds of credit card … Continue Reading

Cell Cultured Food—FDA and USDA Reach Agreement on Splitting Up Oversight

Previously on the blog, we noted that federal government agencies don’t always play well together. So, when these agencies synchronize their efforts, the industry would do well to take notice. One such coordination effort is well underway. The FDA and the USDA just announced that they will jointly oversee cell‑cultured food production derived from livestock … Continue Reading

The FTC’s New Data Tool: The first edition may be setting the stage to go after gift and prepaid card retailers, program managers, and other vendors?

This week, the FTC launched a new interactive tool to view its aggregated consumer complaint data. Previously released annually, data collected through the Consumer Sentinel Network will now be reported quarterly. The FTC’s data tool is interactive and allows users to narrow the data by state, type of fraud, contact method, age of victim, amount … Continue Reading

Court Sets Important Limits on Ability of FTC to Challenge Past Conduct

Believe it or not, the FTC’s power is not limitless. We wrote previously on an antitrust decision (FTC v. Shire ViroPharma) limiting the FTC’s ability to proceed in federal court to challenge past violations of the FTC Act. This week a judge extended that reasoning to the FTC’s consumer protection enforcement authority. In FTC v. … Continue Reading

Insights into the FTC and the Utah Department of Commerce: Consumer Fraud and Business Symposium

On September 20, 2018, the FTC and Utah Department of Commerce held a symposium in Salt Lake City, Utah, discussing, among other things, how the two work together to combat consumer fraud in various areas. The panels provided a unique insight into how law enforcement agencies coordinate and their respective priorities. Below are two key … Continue Reading

“Money, It’s a Gas” – Bureau Director Smith Makes NAD Debut

To kick off this year’s National Advertising Division Annual Conference, Andrew Smith—the FTC’s new Director of the Consumer Protection Bureau—discussed his views on the Commission’s priorities with respect to remedies, privacy and data security, and national advertising cases. Given the backgrounds of the new Commissioners, Director Smith acknowledged that some of them may be re-thinking—or … Continue Reading

A Victory for Introductory Offer and Subscription Advertisers: FTC Fails to Prove Deception Against DIRECTV

The FTC has been waging a steady war against advertisers that use introductory offers that turn into subscription agreements. With the FTC threatening to seek full consumer redress and to impose joint and several liability, most companies and their principals cannot afford to litigate such cases and are forced to settle. In March 2015, the … Continue Reading

FCC Tackles “Slamming and Cramming”

“Slamming and cramming” might sound more appropriate in professional wrestling than telecommunications, but it’s the Federal Communications Commission and not the WWE that’s making moves in this area. On June 7, the Commission approved new rules aimed at stopping both slamming and cramming by telecommunications carriers, which we’ve summarized below. On August 16, these new … Continue Reading

The Department of Justice Has a New Consumer Task Force – What Does It Mean for You?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – the second-highest-ranking official at the Department of Justice – recently announced the formation of the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud. The announcement came at a widely publicized press conference, a signal that the Task Force ranks high on the list of the Department’s law enforcement priorities. … Continue Reading

Upcoming FTC Hearings Include Several Topics Relating to Consumer Protection

Taking a page from Federal Trade Commission legend (and one of our mentors) Bob Pitofsky, the FTC recently announced that it plans to hold a series of public hearings modeled after the FTC’s 1995 “Global Competition and Innovation Hearings.” New FTC Chair Joe Simons said that the hearings will provide the FTC with an opportunity … Continue Reading
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