BBB Launches Online Tool to Report Deceptive Ads

As part of the Better Business Bureau’s 2013 AdTruth initiative, the BBB recently announced a new online tool that allows truth vs lies imageconsumers to report concerning advertising content. The tool adds to a growing arsenal of local, state and federal advertising oversight mechanisms.

Consumer are asked numerous questions intended to learn about the advertisement in question, including what was misleading and why it was confusing. Screenshots and photos can be submitted by consumers. Upon submission, the BBB will assess the information and if an advertising violation appears to have occurred, businesses may be contacted directly and request that remedial action be promptly taken.

According the BBB, “[n]ot all reports will refer to ads in violation of the BBB Code of Advertising, but all reports provide valuable insights regarding what consumers find questionable.” “Misleading advertising is a huge source of frustration for both consumers and honest businesses in today’s marketplace … [a]lthough BBB has always called out fraudulent, confusing or unsubstantiated advertising, this new reporting function provides another way for consumers to be our allies in the fight for truth-in-advertising,” the agency said.

See here, for more information.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Better Business Bureau’s recent investigative study that concludes free trial offers often mislead consumers. The report recommends that credit card companies do more to assist consumers with chargeback requests.

“Free trial offers relying on deception have infested the internet, especially with social media,” said the BBB President and CEO. “Those running these scams are counting on consumers to be so dazzled by celebrities and big promises that they fail to read the fine print. It’s imperative that consumers read the terms and conditions of such offers very carefully before they take the plunge.”

On a federal level, the Federal Trade Commission actively policies subscription-based online marketing campaigns. Recent FTC enforcement actions should serve as a clear reminder to affiliate marketers that it is unlawful to use a negative option online unless all material terms are clearly and conspicuously disclosed prior to obtaining consumers’ billing information, express informed consent is obtained prior to charging an account, and simple ways for consumers to stop recurring charges are provided.

Contact advertising law attorney Richard B. Newman if you are interested in learning more about this topic. Follow him on Facebook at FTC defense lawyer.

Attorney Advertising. Informational purposes only. Not legal advice.