Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

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.
Continue Reading CFPB Announces Policy Against Consumer Review Suppression

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.
Continue Reading FTC Ramps Up Enforcement on Consumer Reviews

In the recent AdAge article, ESG Advertising Demands More Than Mere Legal Compliance, Chris Cole shares his thoughts on the five best practices for how companies advertise their ESG efforts:

  1. Advertise honestly about accurately measurable improvements
  2. Qualify with reference to metrics or uncertainty to put statement into context
  3. Use well-established standards for communication
  4. Do

Monday, January 10, 2022

Consumer Protection: Cryptocurrency Payment Scams

  • The FTC issued a warning alerting consumers to a new cryptocurrency scam. Scammers begin by impersonating government, law enforcement, or local utility companies. They message or call the victim to the tell them that they have won the lottery or a prize. Eventually, the scammer requests money from the victim and instructs the person to withdraw cryptocurrency from a cryptocurrency ATM. The scammer provides a QR code so the victim can transfer the cryptocurrency to themselves. Tracking the cryptocurrency is extremely difficult to do, which means most victims are not able to retrieve their funds. The FTC issued the warning due to the increased number of reported scams.


Continue Reading FTC Updates (January 10-14, 2022)

Our look back on the 10 most read posts from this past year highlights key developments in 2021. These posts reflect the emergence of environmental justice and environment, social, and governance as critical areas for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. They also show the growing enforcement trend among State Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission. Regulations have covered a wide range of issues, from chemicals and hazardous materials in the U.S. to digital markets in the European Union. And, as the impact of Covid-19 continues to affect us all, one of our most-read articles shows the continued struggle retailers face with pandemic-related lease disputes.

Continue Reading This Year’s Most Popular Posts

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive and Misleading Conduct

  • The FTC announced rulemaking geared towards combatting government and business impersonation fraud. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant uptick in scammers utilizing various forms of communication to impersonate government agencies or businesses in order to steal money or a consumer’s

Monday, December 6, 2021

Consumer Protection: FTC’s Franchise Rule

  • The FTC filed an amicus brief in pending litigation to advise the Supreme Court that the FTC’s Franchise Rule cannot be used to determine whether a franchisee is an employee or an independent contractor. The Franchise Rule, codified as 16 C.F.R. §§ 436–437, requires franchisors to provide certain material disclosures to all potential franchisees. In its brief, the agency explained that it enacted this Rule in 1978 in response to widespread deception in the sale of franchises, and that it should preempt state laws only if they offer less protection to prospective franchisees.


Continue Reading FTC Updates (December 6-10, 2021)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Consumer Protection: Advertising and Telemarketing

  • The FTC finalized a settlement with New York-Based Lifewatch, Inc, an ambulatory cardiac monitoring service, which will result in paying back more than $1.8 million to consumers, including many older Americans. The FTC’s complaint, filed jointly with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, alleged that the defendants bombarded consumers with at least a billion unsolicited robocalls to pitch supposedly “free” medical alert systems. These pre-recorded messages claimed that Lifewatch’s medical alert system was endorsed or recommended by reputable organizations like the American Heart Association. The company’s telemarketers often told consumers that a medical alert system had been purchased for them, and they could receive it “at no cost whatsoever.” Consumers eventually learned that they were responsible for monthly monitoring fees and that it was difficult to cancel without paying a penalty. The defendants are also banned from telemarketing and misrepresenting the terms associated with the sale of any product or service.


Continue Reading FTC Updates (November 29 – December 1, 2021)

In recent weeks, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) sent nearly two thousand letters with a “Notice of Penalty Offenses” to a who’s who of companies across America, putting them on notice that they might face steep potential civil penalties if they engage in deceptive conduct. The letters targeted top consumer products companies, leading retailers and retail platforms, major ad agencies, and other advertisers nationwide that engage in online marketing, multi-level marketing, offer “gig” economy jobs, or are in the for-profit education sector.
Continue Reading FTC “Notice of Penalty Offense” Letters – What Are They and What’s Next?