Is It Time To Get Serious About Cracking Down On Stealth Instagram Ads?

Is It Time To Get Serious About Cracking Down On Stealth Instagram Ads?

If you’ve used Instagram, you’re almost certainly familiar with apparently real people touting tummy-flattening tea, an array of subscription boxes, the benefits of some multilevel marketing scheme, or the latest in fashion, beauty, and electronics. If these people are being paid to shill these products, then they have to clearly be flagged as ads. Though the Federal Trade Commission has pledged to get serious about going after advertisers who taint your Instagram feed with these stealth ads, some consumer advocates say the FTC simply isn’t doing enough. [More]

Homeopathic Treatments To Be Held To Same Standards As Other Health Products

Homeopathic Treatments To Be Held To Same Standards As Other Health Products

Homeopathic medicine is a billion-dollar business, with some of the biggest names in retail selling treatments that contain few — or no — active ingredients, like the CVS brand “Homeopathic Constipation Relief” that is nothing more than a 40-proof mixture of alcohol and water. In spite of the lack of actual medication or supporting evidence, some products still make claims that they can actually treat ailments or relieve pain. Now the federal government is confirming that homeopathic items will be held to the same standards as other products on drugstore shelves. [More]

Amazon Must Issue Refunds, Not Gift Cards, To Parents Unfairly Billed For Kids’ In-App Purchases

Amazon Must Issue Refunds, Not Gift Cards, To Parents Unfairly Billed For Kids’ In-App Purchases

Back in April, a federal court ruled that Amazon had not done enough to alert Kindle Fire owners — and users of Amazon’s Android appstore — that “Free” apps could still allow kids to make costly in-app transactions, but the ruling left unresolved exactly how much Amazon would need to pay to make customers whole again. Yesterday, the judge in the case determined that wronged Amazon customers must need to actively claim their refund, and that Amazon could not pay the refund in site credit or gift cards. [More]

Feds Accuse NetSpend Of Misleading Customers About Prepaid Debit Cards

Feds Accuse NetSpend Of Misleading Customers About Prepaid Debit Cards

NetSpend, one of the nation’s largest providers of prepaid debit cards, has been accused of violating federal law for allegedly misleading users into believing that funds loaded onto these cards will be available immediately, while some users say they had to wait weeks or were never able to access their funds. [More]

Mike Mozart

Generic Drug Companies Could Soon Face Criminal Price-Collusion Charges

The pharmaceuticals industry has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years for soaring prices, though much of the attention has focused on name-brand drugs with no or minimal competition. However, multiple news reports now claim that some generic drug companies could soon face federal criminal charges over allegations that they colluded on price. [More]

Maker Of Krylex, Hammer-Tite, Kwix Fix Glues Stops Claiming Products “Made in USA”

Maker Of Krylex, Hammer-Tite, Kwix Fix Glues Stops Claiming Products “Made in USA”

Anyone can claim that their product is “Made in the U.S.A.,” but unless that product is actually manufactured in America from materials made in America, you might be breaking the law. Eight months after being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for claiming its glues are “proudly made in the U.S.A.” even though the products were made using foreign-sourced chemicals, the manufacturer has agreed to stop this faux patriotic boasting. [More]

If FTC Can’t Resurrect Lawsuit Over AT&T’s “Unlimited” Data, Telecoms May Be Even More Untouchable

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In August, an appeals court threw out the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against AT&T over the way it marketed its “unlimited” data plans (which were anything but unlimited). Now the FTC is taking its case up the legal ladder, making the case that if it’s not allowed to sue AT&T, then all phone and internet providers can more easily get away with deceptive business practices. [More]

Feds Shut Down Scam That Used Pop-Up Alerts To Scare People Into Thinking Computers Were Hacked

Feds Shut Down Scam That Used Pop-Up Alerts To Scare People Into Thinking Computers Were Hacked

If you’ve ever browsed some of the internet’s seedier nooks and crannies, you might be familiar with a particular type of scam: The pop-up warning (usually accompanied by a loud, alarm-like sound) telling you that your computer has been compromised and you must call tech support immediately. To people who know better, it’s a minor nuisance but to people who aren’t as scam-savvy, it’s a ruse that brings in millions of dollars to jerks around the world, including a Missouri-based operation that has been shut down by the Federal Trade Commission. [More]

Doctor Who Endorsed Sketchy Joint Pain Supplement Failed To Mention She Was Married To Company’s Owner

Doctor Who Endorsed Sketchy Joint Pain Supplement Failed To Mention She Was Married To Company’s Owner

When you turn on the TV and there are one of those infomercials that pretend to be a talk show, you’re probably justified in questioning the bona fides of anyone endorsing the product being sold. Case in point: A joint pain supplement that not only made unsubstantiated claims about being able to treat medical conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, but which failed to mention that the doctor endorsing the supplement also just happened to be married to the company’s owner. [More]

How Much Control Do You Actually Have Over Your Private Data?

Library of Congress

“Privacy” is the buzz of our era, but… what even is privacy? Different consumers, businesses, and regulators each have their own definitions and perspectives on the issue, while the law, too, is always evolving. [More]

frankieleon

What Can I Do If I Keep Getting Auto-Billed For A Thing I Don’t Want?

Subscriptions and recurring payments are the hot thing these days. From political donations to arts patronage, from subscription boxes to student loans, everyone wants a scheduled monthly slice of your money. And that’s all well and good, as long as you actually want what they’re selling. But what happens if you change your mind? [More]

oracorac

Walgreens Will Sell Off Up To 1,000 Stores To Get Approval For Rite Aid Acquisition

When two companies in the same business want to merge, a common condition placed on the merger by authorities may be that one or both companies sell part of its business so there’s still some competition in the market. It looks likely that the Federal Trade Commission will approve the proposed merger of Walgreens Rite Aid, but Walgreens may have to give up more locations before the deal goes through. [More]

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New York Launches Antitrust Investigation Into EpiPen Schools Program

Amid calls for drugmaker Mylan to drop the price of emergency allergy treatment EpiPen, the attorney general for the state of New York has launched an antitrust investigation into a program that helps to put EpiPens in schools, potentially to the detriment of competition. At the same time, U.S. lawmakers are pushing regulators for a federal antitrust probe on the program. [More]

Facebook

Consumer Privacy Groups File FTC Complaint Over Facebook, WhatsApp Data Sharing

It’s been less than a week since WhatsApp announced it would start sharing some user data with parent company Facebook, but in that short time, app users and privacy advocates alike have raised a ruckus over what they see as a broken promise. Now, some consumer privacy watchdog groups have filed a formal complaint with the FTC, asking them to look into it.

[More]

Court Throws Out Federal Government’s Lawsuit Over AT&T “Unlimited” Data Plans

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Nearly two years ago, the Federal Trade Commission sued AT&T for allegedly misleading wireless customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while simultaneously throttling their cellular connection speeds when they passed certain monthly thresholds. AT&T failed in 2015 to get the case dismissed in District Court, but yesterday succeeded in convincing a federal appeals court to throw out the government’s complaint. [More]

Feds Accuse 1-800 Contacts Of Badvertising

Feds Accuse 1-800 Contacts Of Badvertising

The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit today against 1-800 Contacts, accusing the online lens retailer of making agreements with more than a dozen competitors to not compete with each other for online search ads, resulting in lens buyers paying higher prices. [More]

Jonas B

FTC Sends Warning Letters To Online Marketers Peddling Ineffective Zika-Prevention Products

It’s been a busy week for authorities going after sham products: a day after the New York Attorney General’s office announced that six companies had agreed to stop selling products that are ineffective at warding off Zika-carrying mosquitoes, the Federal Trade Commission is reminding a slew of businesses marketing Zika-prevention products that it’s illegal to make health claims that simply aren’t true. [More]

Dog Food Company Accused Of Falsely Advertising It Could Extend Dog’s Life By 30%

Dog Food Company Accused Of Falsely Advertising It Could Extend Dog’s Life By 30%

As the proud pop of a pup, of course I want him to live as long and happy a life as possible. At the same time, I’d hope that any product claiming to be able to extend my dog’s years has the evidence to back up this boast. [More]