One of the last sessions of Affiliate Summit West 2011 in Las Vegas was also one of the most interesting. FTC Prosecution of Affiliates for Advertising Claims was presented by A. Jeff Ifrah, the founding partner of Ifrah Law. In the past few years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been cracking down on affiliates over deceptive trade and advertising practices. As an affiliate, it’s to your advantage to learn the new FTC rules and takes step to ensure you don’t get a knock on your door.
Jeff’s presentation was broken down in to four parts.
- Insider’s understanding of the FTC
- Real-life examples and what they mean to you
- Staying out of the government’s cross-hair
- Critical advice “in the event…”
The new FTC rules changes the guideline for disclaimers. In a nutshell, having a disclaimers no longer protects you from the FTC cracking down on your ass. The rules also change disclosure rules. As a blogger, it’s important to disclose if you were paid for a blog post, whether in cash or gifts.
The FTC has the power of issue a “Temporary Restraining Order.” The TRO allows to FTC to freeze all your assets even before they prove their case. This gives them tremendous leverage to get you to settle. Often time, you will read news story of a complaint and settlement done all in one day. This is because of the TRO instantly puts you out of business. It’s a situation where you are assumed guilty until proven otherwise.
The main take away I got from Jeff’s presentation was if you get a request from the FTC for more information (CIV), don’t send it until you see a lawyer first. In most cases, what ends up happening is you end up helping the government built a case against you. You still need to respond to the CIV but a lawyer can help you narrow the focus of the complaint or even dismiss it.