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You are here: Home  FTC Actions FTC Guides & Rules

FTC Guidelines & Rules Affecting Web Sites & Online Advertising

From time to time, the FTC issues rules and guidelines to help people and businesses to understand and comply with federal commerce laws.  Many of these rules and guidelines affect web sites.  KEYTLaw monitors the numerous FTC announcements and maintains a library of FTC pronouncements that may affect web sites and e-commerce.

FTC FAQ:  Net Advertising

This FAQ contains a summary of many rules that affect internet advertising such as: bait and switch, catalogs, children's advertising, comparative ads, contests and sweepstakes, credit, disclosures and disclaimers, endorsements and testimonials, food ads, franchises and business opportunities, free claims, guarantees, internet advertising, leasing, mail order advertising, pricing, and rainchecks.

Selling on the Internet:  Prompt Delivery Rules

Online merchants must comply with the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and ship merchandise promptly.

Selling Internationally, a Guide for Business

Businesses that sell online can potentially reach billions of customers in every country of the world. Even small "mom-`n-pop" companies with websites are attracting a client base never before possible. Many are discovering just how international the internet really is, processing orders not only from the next town or state, but from the next continent, too.

Credit Card Laundering is a Crime

If you have a credit card merchant account for your online business and are approached by a person or company that asks to make credit card sales using your merchant account, do not do it.  Not only do you risk problems with your merchant bank because it is a breach of your merchant account agreement, but it could also be a violation of federal law. 

FTC to be More Creative Combating Online Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission says there is a danger that the consumers may not fully realize the benefits of the internet if consumers identify it with fraudulent activity.  The FTC encourages law enforcement authorities to be more creative and cooperative in combating online fraud.

Internet Created Fertile Ground for Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission says that internet technology is the latest draw for opportunistic predators who specialize in fraud. In 1997, the Commission received fewer than 1,000 Internet fraud complaints; a year later, the number had increased eight-fold. In 2000, over 25,000 complaints - roughly 26 percent of all fraud complaints logged into the FTC's complaint database.

Entertainment Software Rating Board Awarded Safe Harbor Status

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has been approved as a "safe harbor" program under the terms of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

First Safe Harbor Approved for Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

The Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CARU), the children's arm of the advertising industry's self-regulatory program established in 1974, has been approved as the first "safe harbor" program under the terms of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.  Safe harbor programs are industry self-regulatory guidelines that, if adhered to, are deemed to comply with the Act.

How to Comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, effective April 21, 2000, applies to the online collection of personal information from children under 13. The new rules spell out what a web site operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online.

FTC Supports Legislation to Limit Junk E-Mail

The Federal Trade Commission favors legislation to limit junk e-mail by allowing consumers to refuse to receive it and imposing penalties on those who ignore the consumers' choice. The FTC is concerned about the widespread use of junk e-mail to disseminate false and misleading claims about products and services offered for sale on the Internet.

Guide to Online Payments

How to pay for goods and services online and how to make sure your transactions are safe.

National Do Not Call List

Information about he Federal Trade Commission's national do not call list under the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

Search Engine Paid Placement Ads

The FTC's  response to a complaint filed by Commercial Alert requesting that the FTC investigate if Alta Vista Co., AOL Time Warner, Inc., Direct Hit Technologies, iWon, Inc., Looksmart, Ltd., Microsoft Corp., and Terra Lycos S.A. are violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a)(1), by failing to disclose that advertisements are inserted into search engine results lists.

You’ve Got Spam: How to Can Unwanted Email

Do you receive lots of junk email messages from people you don't know?  This guide provides advice on how to reduce spam.

FTC Seeks Comments on Amending Children's Internet Privacy Rule

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on a proposal to extend for two years the period during which web sites directed to children can use an e-mail message from the parent, coupled with additional steps, to obtain verifiable parental consent for the collection of personal information from children. The Commission proposes to extend the time period from April 21, 2002, until April 21, 2004, and requests comments on this proposal.

FTC FAQ:  A Guide for Small Businesses

This FAQ answers common advertising questions such as when does truth in lending laws apply to ads and what makes an ad deceptive.

Advertising & Marketing on the Internet: Rules of the Road

If you advertise on the internet, remember that many of the same rules that apply to other forms of advertising apply to electronic marketing. These rules and guidelines protect businesses and consumers - and help maintain the credibility of the internet as an advertising medium.

Existing Consumer Protection Laws Apply To Online Ads

How consumer protection rules and guides apply to advertising and sales on the internet. The FTC provides guidance to businesses about how FTC law applies to online activities with a particular focus on the clarity and conspicuousness of disclosures in internet ads. The paper also discusses how Commission rules and guides that use certain words -- "written," "writing," "printed" and "direct mail" -- apply to new technologies.

Dot Cons

Con artists have gone high-tech, using the Internet to defraud consumers in a variety of clever ways. Whether they're using the excitement of an Internet auction to entice consumers into parting with their money, applying new technology to peddle traditional business opportunity scams, using email to reach vast numbers of people with false promises about earnings through day trading, or hijacking consumers' modems and cramming hefty long-distance charges onto their phone bills, scam artists are just a click away.

Law Enforcers Target Top 10 Online Scams

In a year-long law enforcement effort targeting the top 10 Internet scams, law enforcement agencies announced 251 enforcement actions against online scammers in "Operation Top Ten Dot Cons."  The top 10 scams were culled from Consumer Sentinel, a database of more than 285,000 consumer complaints established and maintained by the Federal Trade Commission and accessible to more than 240 consumer protection agencies in the U.S.

United States & Twelve Countries Unveil e-consumer.gov

Responding to the challenges posed by cross-border Internet fraud and working to enhance consumer protection and consumer confidence in e-commerce, the United States and twelve countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland & United Kingdom) joined to create econsumer.gov, a joint effort to gather and share cross-border e-commerce complaints.

Telemarketing Sales Rule

The Telemarketing Sales Rule covers telemarketing - any plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services through interstate telephone calls.  With some important exceptions, any persons or companies that take part in any plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services through interstate telephone calls must comply with the Rule.


This page was last modified on July 22, 2007.

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