The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), created in 1914, is charged with protecting the public from harmful products and unfair business practices. The FTC helps maintain a fair and competitive marketplace in which all businesses can thrive. To do this, the FTC enforces high standards concerning deceptive marketing practices and false advertising. This is done via truth in advertising laws, which apply to all forms of advertising: printed, on TV, on billboards, on the internet, and in your physical or online mailbox.
What Is Deceptive Marketing and False Advertising?
Deceptive marketing practices are any that include misleading, incorrect, or fraudulent information, whether the company intended to deceive or not. This can be especially common in the healthcare, food, beauty, and drug-related industries, as well as in advertising for high-tech products. Information given through advertising must be factually true, scientifically backed (if appropriate), and may not mislead the consumer.
Unfortunately, businesses can accidentally participate in false advertising fairly easily. One wrong number on a statistic can count as deceptive marketing. If you sell jewelry, you must represent honestly the type, quality, grade, size, weight, color, and treatment of your merchandise. Apparel also needs to be labeled completely correctly – fur, for instance, must state on the label if it has been bleached or artificially colored. If a business states that a product is “Made in the USA,” the item must have “all or virtually all” components made in America.
Sadly, others who engage in deceptive marketing practices have bad intentions from the start. Examples of this include phony work-at-home business “opportunities” doing medical billing, envelope stuffing, and rebate processing. The scammers offering the business opportunity charge large up-front fees and then insist that the new venture cannot succeed without the purchase of additional pricey services.
How Do Cases Come to the FTC?
The FTC conducts investigations alongside law enforcement and collects complaints from consumers and businesses. The agency reviews complaints concerning false advertising and deceptive marketing, identity theft, unsafe products, and other illegal practices. The FTC prosecutes violators and creates laws to help protect consumers and to ensure fair competition. It also helps consumers harmed by deceptive marketing practices to get their money back.
What to Do If You’re Charged with False Advertising
If your business has been accused of participating in deceptive marketing practices or false advertising, you need professional legal help. Contact the business tort lawyers at Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner, P.C. for assistance.