On January 19, the CFPB issued Circular 2023-01 to affirm that companies offering “negative option” subscription services are required to comply with federal consumer financial protection laws. According to the Circular, “negative option” refers to a term or condition under which a seller may interpret a consumer’s silence, failure to take an affirmative action to reject a product or service, or failure to cancel an agreement as acceptance or continued acceptance of the offer (see our previous blog posts on negative option marketing here and here). The CFPB warns that negative option marketing practices may violate the prohibition on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices in the CFPA where a seller:

Continue Reading CFPB: Negative Option Marketing Practices May Violate CFPA

On November 15, the FTC announced a six month extension to the deadline for companies to comply with the Safeguards Rule. The Safeguards Rule requires non-banking financial institutions, such as mortgage brokers, motor vehicle dealers, and payday lenders, to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive security program to keep their customers’ information safe (we discussed the Safeguards Rule in a previous blog post here). The deadline for complying with some of the updated requirements of the Safeguards Rule is now June 9, 2023.

Continue Reading FTC Extends Deadline for Safeguards Rule Compliance to June 9, 2023

On November 3, the FTC and a software company operating internet-based telephone services filed an agreed upon proposed court order, which includes a $100 million fine, following an FTC suit alleging that the software company participated in illegal dark patterns and charged junk fees. In its original complaint, the FTC alleged that the software company provided simple ways to sign up for their phone plans, but made it difficult to cancel those plans, and harmed consumers by:

Continue Reading FTC Action Alleging Dark Patterns Forces Software Company to Pay Damages and Adopt New Practices

Recently, the FTC and California Department of Financial Protection (DFPI) sued several companies and owners for allegedly operating an illegal mortgage relief operation. This action alleges that the defendants’ conduct violated the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL), the FTC Act, the FTC’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule (the MARS Rule or Regulation O), the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Covid-19 Consumer Protection Act.

Continue Reading FTC, DFPI Shut Down Mortgage Relief Operation

On October 18, 2022, the CFPB sued a software company that manages online payment platforms claiming that it utilized unlawful enrollment practices to cause unknowing consumers to automatically enroll in annual subscriptions. According to the CFPB, the software company generated over $300 million in fees from approximately three million consumers through engagement in deceptive acts and “dark pattern” techniques in violation of the CFPA and EFTA by:

Continue Reading CFPB Sues Payment Platform as the Crack Down on Dark Patterns Continues

On September 15, the FTC released a report, Bringing Dark Patterns to Light, that shows an increase in the use of sophisticated “dark pattern” design practices by retailers intended to manipulate consumers into making decisions that benefit the retailers at the consumers’ expense. The report examined the use of dark patterns across a variety of industries and contexts, including e-commerce, cookie consent banners, children’s applications, and subscription sales. The report highlighted four common tactics:

Continue Reading FTC Reports Rise in “Dark Pattern” Tactics in Consumer Markets

On September 1, the FTC issued an administrative complaint and consent order alleging that a credit services company harmed consumers by making false claims of “pre-approved” credit offers, enticing many consumers to apply for offers they ultimately did not qualify for and unnecessary credit checks.

Continue Reading FTC Targets Credit Services Company For False “Pre-Approved” Credit Offers

The FTC recently published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to discuss harms associated with the collection, processing, and selling of personal data. The FTC is inviting public comments on whether it should implement new rules on how companies:

Continue Reading FTC Signals Focus on Increasing Protections Around Personal Data

On August 9, the US District Court of Georgia ruled that the FTC had provided “broad and detailed evidence” for its allegations that a tech company and its CEO engaged in deceptive advertising and unfair fee practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC’s 2019 complaint alleged the defendants made deceptive representations to customers and charged hidden, unauthorized fees in connection with the company’s “fuel card” products, including by:

Continue Reading Court Orders Injunctive Relief Against Tech Company for Deceptive Advertising, Unfair Fee Practices

On July 29, a payment processor company and its two sales affiliates (defendants) agreed to a stipulated order with the FTC to settle charges that they imposed hidden terms, surprise exit fees, and “zombie charges” on small businesses.

Continue Reading Payment Processor Agrees to Refund Customers After FTC Alleges Surprise Exit Fees and Zombie Charges On Small Businesses

On June 23, the FTC proposed a rule that would prohibit junk fees, bait-and-switch advertising, and other deceptive practices by auto dealers to protect consumers and honest dealers in the car-buying process. The proposed measures would:

Continue Reading FTC Targets Junk Fees, Bait-and-Switch Advertising by Auto Dealers