We recently reported on the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) increased enforcement against review curation policies that disproportionately restrict or remove negative reviews. Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has issued a Bulletin that makes clear that the suppression or manipulation of consumer reviews posted about financial products and services is an unfair and deceptive act or practice. The CFPB’s Bulletin drew from recent FTC guidance and enforcement activity as well as the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 and stated that conduct such as (1) deceptively posting fake reviews that appear independent, (2) suppressing or manipulating reviews such as by limiting the posting of negative reviews, or (3) imposing contractual ‘gag’ clauses on consumers in form contracts that prohibit honest reviews is generally a violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
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A few months after putting the nation’s top advertisers on notice that consumer endorsements are high priority, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently announced a settlement with online retail company Fashion Nova, LLC (“Fashion Nova”) for allegedly blocking negative reviews from being posted on its website, signaling to retailers that the FTC is cracking down on companies that inflate consumer reviews. In conjunction with the settlement, the FTC also released guidance regarding the collection and publication of online reviews directed to online retailers and review platforms and announced that it sent letters to 10 companies offering review management services.
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