FTC Freezes Cash: Now You’re At Risk!

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FTC Freezes Cash: Now You’re At Risk!

That’s right. Think about it for a minute.

You’re at your desk at the beginning of your work day.  Drinking your first cup of coffee.

You’re working on your business.

There’s a knock on the door.  It’s the local process server with a pile of paper from the FTC naming you as a defendant for a deceptive marketing practice.

In less than five minutes, you’re now a “Defendant”. It’s hard to actually say the word.  And the United States Government, with all its resources to wage war against you, is suing you.

This isn’t a warning.  It’s the real thing!  Something you’ve hardly even considered before.

You can’t believe it.  Why me?

After all, you’re ethical.  And you know other businesses who have done the same thing, or maybe much more than you.

What to do?  How do I find an attorney to represent me? Can I afford the massive legal fees?  Not to mention the massive disruption to your life.  And time away from your business!

The phone rings.  It’s your banker.  “Sorry, I’ve had to freeze your bank accounts by an order from the FTC.

Now, the initial shock gives way to the reality of this development.

How do I pay the bills?  The mortgage?  I can’t even go the to instant banker and withdraw cash!

And, how do I break the news to my spouse?

This story isn’t as far-fetched as you may think.  It’s real.  It can happen to you.

And the longer you continue to grow your business, the greater the likelihood that it WILL happen to you.  That is, unless you decide to learn – and follow – some of the basic steps to protect yourself.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Rules and Regulations that govern unfair and deceptive marketing practices in the USA.  If you don’t know them, if you don’t adhere to them, you do so at your own risk.

Plus, there are laws that are not new, but they’re not well known by most businesses.  And yes, they apply to ALL business.

The scary thing is… these little known laws can have devastating effects if you don’t know how they apply to your business.  And know how to avoid their devastating consequences.

It’s about legal compliance.   These are now the critical questions you must ask yourself:

  • Is my website legal, and
  • Are my marketing practices legal?

You And Everyone Online Is Now on the FTC’s Radar 24×7!

It does not matter if you are an online business or brick and mortar – IF YOU DO ANYTHING ONLINE – EVEN SOMETHING SIMPLE LIKE A WEBSITE FOR CONSUMERS TO FIND YOU – your business is fair game.

Deceptive practices can take many forms, such as:

  • unsubstantiated claims,
  • false promises,
  • incomplete descriptions,
  • false testimonials or comparisons,
  • small-print qualifications of advertisements, and
  • partial disclosure, or visual distortion of products
  • incomplete or ‘borrowed’ privacy policy and/or Terms of Service

Sometimes, deceptive practices are no-brainers, meaning they are clearly deceptive, and there’s no excuse or defense for these practices.

In other cases, however, the distinction may not as clear.

And in some, there may even be legal agreements that disclose material terms of offers, but the terms and conditions are not presented properly according to the FTC.

What Does The FTC Consider as “Deceptive” or “Unfair”?

In order to understand what the FTC believes is a “deceptive” or “unfair” act or practice, the best place to begin is with ad claims and business practices, because they are the key things the FTC focuses on.

So, what makes a business practice or ad claim “deceptive” or “unfair” according to the FTC?

The FTC says that a claim is “deceptive” if it:

  • is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
  • is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product or service.
  • The FTC says that a claim or business practice is “unfair” if it:
  • causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury which a consumer could not reasonably avoid; and
  • is not outweighed by the benefit to consumers.

These are the general principles followed by the FTC.

They’re important only as beginning points.

What you really need to understand is how these principles are applied to the specific marketing practices you undertake every day.

How does the FTC determine if you’re engaged in “deceptive” or “unfair” practices?

  • The FTC’s review focuses on what a reasonable consumer would think. Everything is considered – words, phrases, images, videos, slogans – to  determine how a consumer would view what it conveys.
  • The FTC would consider what is stated and not stated.  For example, what you actually say or do, and what is implied by what you say or do.  You’re required to have substantiation (or proof) that you can back up your claims.
  • Then the FTC considers if what you say and do would be material, or important, to a typical consumer regarding whether to act on your call to action.

Engaging in “deceptive” claims or “unfair” practices can have massive consequences on your online business, your profits, and your family – and they’re all bad!

The FTC’s remedies include:

  • Cease and Desist Orders – legally binding orders to stop the deceptive ad or practice.
  • Corrective Ads – requirements to conduct new, corrective ad campaigns to correct the deceptive ad or unfair practice.
  • Civil Penalties (Fines) – these can range from thousands to millions of dollars, and could wipe out your online business in a single day.
  • Freezing Your Bank Accounts!

The FTC’s authority is very broad.  The FTC can even freeze your bank and PayPal accounts!  To most marketers, this is the scariest FTC remedy of all.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re too small to be a target by the FTC.  The FTC Complaint Form is available for anyone to file a complaint at any time.

And you should understand that even beginners (and maybe you) are potential targets; it only takes a single disgruntled customer clicking on that FTC form to transform your life.

But it’s even more important to understand this – as you become successful, and grow your business, you’ll become even more of an inviting potential target for anyone who might want to file an FTC complaint or take some kind of legal action against you.

Another thing… you may not realize it, but your personal assets are at risk.  That’s right, your non-business assets and those of your family.

Personal Asset Protection Won’t Work Against The FTC

Regardless of how many legal entities you set up for purposes of personal asset protection, the FTC can go right through these barriers like a hot knife through butter!

Bottom line, if you’re serious about succeeding with your business, you need to adapt to the new legal landscape on the Web.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse!

By now it should be clear how important it is for you to be FTC compliant. But how can you do that without spending $7,500-$8,000 or more on Internet Attorneys?

Smart business owners around the world are doing it with the help of FTC Guardian.

FTC Guardian is a service that is 100% focused on helping to keep you get and stay FTC compliant and fully protected. And right now, we are offering a free training to give you the knowledge, information, and guidance that you need to stay out of trouble with the Federal Trade Commission.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover on the training:

  • Why The FTC Is Now Going After The Little Guys, And Why You Should Be Worried!
  • What It’s Like To Get Sued By The FTC & How Your Bank Accounts & Personal Assets Can Be Frozen And Lost Forever!
  • Real-Life Examples of People Who Didn’t Think They Were At Risk, But Who Got Nailed By The FTC, And Why It Could Happen To You, Too!
  • Why You’re Subject To The FTC’s Jurisdiction, Even If You’re Not Located In The United States!
  • How Your Customers And Competitors Can Easily Report You To The FTC With A Single Click!
  • How Law Enforcement Nationwide Has Quick And Easy Access To Each And Every FTC Complaint Filed Against You!
  • What It’s Like To For The FTC To Get A Court-Ordered Receiver To Take Control of Your Business And Show You The Door!
  • Why It’s So Easy For The FTC To Levy Against Your Personal & Family Assets, Even If You Operate Your Business as a Corporation or LLC!
  • Why FTC Fines Are So Enormous, And Why You Won’t Be Able To Seek Relief in Bankruptcy!
  • How Your Privacy Policy Can Get You Sued For Deceptive Marketing Practices, Even Though It’s Not a Sales or Promotion Document!
  • Two Tragic Ways You Can Lose Your Copyrights in Your Website, Software, E-Book, Article, or Blog Post!
  • And Much More…

Remember: legal protection is a massively important part of your business, and it’s one you cannot afford to ignore any longer.

Go here to register for our next FREE training and make your business is FTC compliant today!

About The Author.  Chip Cooper is a full-time Internet Attorney who is Of Counsel to the Atlanta, Georgia law firm of Jones & Haley, P.C.  Chip’s practice focuses on SaaS, Internet, software, and intellectual property law.  Chip is also a founder and CEO of FTC Guardian, Inc. and its www.ftcguardian.com website.  FTC Guardian provides tools to help online entrepreneurs develop strategies for FTC compliance, protect their intellectual property, and to otherwise protect their business and personal assets.
Disclaimer:  This article is provided for informational purposes only.  It’s not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created.  Neither the author nor FTC Guardian, Inc. is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.
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