FTC Warning: How to Spot a Fake

January 15th, 2013 by DWM Magazine

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning small businesses that an email with a subject line “NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT” is not from the FTC. The email falsely states that a complaint has been filed with the agency against their company. The FTC advises recipients not to click on any of the links or attachments with the email, and to delete it. Clicking on the links may install a virus or other spyware on the computer.

Real warning letters from the FTC are signed by an FTC attorney, clarifies Peter Kaplan, FTC office of public affairs. “If someone has doubts about a letter they received, they should call the relevant FTC attorney using the agency’s online staff directory on FTC.gov, or through the main FTC phone number at 202-326-2000. Once they reach that FTC staff attorney by phone, they can verify whether the letter is legitimate.”

In related news, the FTC continues to crack down on companies who make misleading claims—this time those in the textile industry. Four national retailers agreed recently to pay penalties totaling $1.26 million for allegedly falsely labeling textiles as made of bamboo, while they actually were rayon, according to the FTC. Amazon, Leon Max, Macy’s and Sears ignored warning letters sent by the FTC in 2010.

The agency charges that the companies violated the Textile Products Identification Act (Textile Act) and the FTC’s Textile Rules by labeling and advertising products sold in stores and online as made of bamboo, while they actually were made of rayon. While so-called bamboo textiles often are promoted as environmentally friendly, the process for manufacturing rayon – even when it is made from bamboo – is far from a “green” one, wrote the FTC.

“When attempting to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, companies need to ensure they don’t cross the line into misleading labeling and advertising,” says Charles Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

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