It’s Time to S#%t or get Off the Pot!

Well Folks, it’s November already. Less than a month till the FTC starts their “Witch Hunt” for people who ignored their warnings!

Yep, their new Guidelines go into effect on December 1st … Are YOU Ready?

While the new guidelines are probably going to need a LOT of testing and rewriting over time, you can be certain of one thing…they WILL be tested in the courts by making examples of those they find that are blatantly disregarding their mandates. And I for one do not wish to be one of those guinea pigs … Do You?

The problem is that their new “Guidelines” are VERY loose! They really don’t give us straight forward facts that we can follow. In fact, I believe they intentionally made them a bit vague and open to interpretation! The question is, WHOSE interpretation…theirs or ours?

What they’ve done is to give us a bunch of VERY general outlines and left it to us to figure out where we fall into their scheme of things, and how we should approach a solution.

In fact they openly stated the following in one section of the FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255, “All Commission law enforcement decisions are, and will continue to be, made on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the specific facts at hand. Moreover, as noted above, the Guides do not expand the scope of liability under Section 5; they simply provide guidance as to how the Commission intends to apply governing law to various facts. In other words, the Commission could challenge the dissemination of deceptive representations made via these media regardless of whether the Guides contain these examples;”

Seems to me, that leaves it pretty much up to them to do WHATEVER they damn well please!

And the BAD news?

It seems pretty clear that they want to make the product owner and/or the Advertiser responsible for anything that is done by anyone who is affiliated with them in any way.

In other words … What they evidently want, is for Us to police the web for them.

They now expect us to keep track of everyone who sells our products, whether through emails, blogs, Adwords, TV, Radio, Snail Mail, Newspapers and even Word Of Mouth, and make SURE they don’t say anything the FTC might decide could be “Misleading”. And according the them, “Misleading” means anything that the “FTC” thinks a consumer “MIGHT” come away from an endorsement thinking!

Oh yea, and they also want us to make sure that they divulge the information that they are affiliated with us in whatever way that might be, and that they received compensation of one kind or another from us…WHENEVER they tell anyone (in ANY WAY) that they recommend our products!

And last but not least, they want us (and anyone who promotes or endorses us by divulging the results they got from our product or service) to also include what the “Typical” results that the average consumer might expect to achieve. The old “Results Not Typical” disclaimer will no longer get it! And if you don’t KNOW what the “TYPICAL results are, you can’t tell them what results you got!

Truth doesn’t seem to matter any more! Obviously the FTC is operating on the premiss that John Q Public is a total MORAN who can’t think for himself.

But the good news is that they aren’t after Honest marketers! So, I don’t think it’s likely they’ll start herding us into cattle-yards, branding us one at a time as “Crooks and Dissenters” and leading us off to the “Slaughter house”.

No actually, I think their intentions are pure, and they’re really trying to protect the consumer from the Flim-Flam men that are all too common in this industry.

But unfortunately, as is the typical outcome whenever the government takes matters into their own hands and decides for us “What is BEST for Us”, a lot of innocent people will get hurt before the smoke clears.

So what can you do?

STAY OUT OF THE LINE OF FIRE AS BEST YOU CAN!

Put up some disclaimers and Disclosures that divulge the information they are asking for. And make sure you have documentation in all your affiliate agreements that explains what the FTC wants them to know.

And ALWAYS use an Electronic Signature Script to prove that YOU complied with their demands. Then they can go after the “OTHER ” guy instead of you!

If you at least make the effort to comply, it is HIGHLY unlikely that they will do more than slap your wrist and tell you to fix it. In fact, it is highly unlikely that you would ever even hear from them.

You have to understand that there is an issue of manpower and economy involved here. The FTC is grossly under manned. According to the figures I found at their own government site, they only had about 975 total employees at the end of 2008, and expected to hire another 200 or so by the end of 2012! (And policing the WWW is just ONE of their many territories!)

And if you figure the BILLIONS of web pages that exist today, you can see that they are never going to be able to police the entire net, and therefore their finding one of YOUR sites is unlikely, unless you REALLY screw up and they start receiving multiple complaints.

In fact the FTC head spokesperson for these matters has openly stated that they will continue to be a ‘Complaint based Investigatory System’. Which means that unless your practices generate multiple complaints in a short period of time, they will most probably not waste their resources on investigating you.

That said, when dealing with the government, it is ALWAYS better to ere on the side of caution! Then you have no worries at all!

We expect that they will quickly and decisively make examples out of a few non compliant sites that they find, to frighten the rest of us into compliance. This has always been their Modus Operandi, and it works!

The question YOU have to answer is … Do YOU want to take a chance that they will use YOUR sites as an example, or would you rather take the easy steps necessary to make sure they pick on someone else instead of you?

Course, That’s Just My Opinion…I Could Be Wrong ;o)

Len Thurmond

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Len Thurmond has been marketing on the Internet since 1995, and is one of the best known authors and newsletter publishers in the Internet World Today.

Through his highly acclaimed Newsletter, his many Seminar and Tele-seminars speaking engagements, and his coaching programs, he has helped thousands of now successful Entrepreneurs find their niche, and make it profitable.

To read more of Len’s Marketing Articles visit his blog at http://LenThurmond.com

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