Are You Compliant With the FTC Rules For Endorsements? Simple site audit checklist will help ensure that you are compliant.
Do you find yourself peeking out from behind the curtains, checking to see if the FTC is about to raid your blog because of the endorsements on your site? Okay, maybe not, but in light of recent action by the FTC against an online gambling company, you may want to take a good look at the endorsements on your site, whether your are a small business or a blogger writing about various products, and make sure you are not running a risk of the FTC knocking down your door. Even if you are not in a high-risk industry like gambling.
Updated FTC Guidelines
To help businesses and bloggers comply, the FTC recently updated their guidelines. Here is a simple audit checklist you can use to review your site to ensure that you are compliant (note, I am not a lawyer; if you think you need full legal advice, consult a properly licensed lawyer):
(1) Do you mention products, not your own, on your blog?
If yes, then you must be clear about how you obtained the product. If you paid for the product yourself, there is no issue since you are a genuine customer. However, if you were paid, or
received a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must reveal that fact.
(2) Do you list any testimonials or after use photos and comments from your product’s users or celebrities?
If yes, are the results mentioned typical or extraordinary? Try to show both, if you have them, and be clear to your potential customer reading the testimonial that the results are not typical.
(3) As a blogger, do you accept free or discounted goods and services in exchange for a review?
Consumers expect journalists employed by newspapers to review products as part of their job.
However, this paid-to-review position is not always clear on an independent blog. If the company sent a product to you free or you received a discount in exchange for a review, say so.
Remember, it’s about transparency [link to Truth and Transparency article].
(4) As a business, do you have a previous relationship with the customer that is outside the normal scope of business, a relative for example?
Using testimonials from employees or family is not expressly forbidden but transparency is important. If employees or family members mention your product on social media, make sure they reveal the relationship they have with you.
(5) Whether a blogger or business, do the testimonials and reviews show typical results?
Testimonials claiming specific results may be construed to mean that the endorser’s experience reflects everyone’s expected results. And statements like “Results not typical” or “Individual results may vary” are not enough to ensure your customers will not make inaccurate assumptions. Be sure to have evidence to prove your claims and clearly demonstrate typical results that can be expected.
Additional questions and answers can be found on the FTC site (https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking). The
Guides offer more than 35 examples involving various endorsement scenarios.
To ask specific questions, email the FTC: email@example.com.