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FTC: Regulations apply to online ads, too

November 6, 2015
Dealers, like most retailers, want their advertising to be seen by as many eyes as possible. But they should remember that some of those eyes work at the Federal Trade Commission, and the FTC has undertaken seven separate rounds against dealers since 2012 for violations of motor vehicle advertising regulations.
Settlements with the FTC can include monetary fines and consent orders, or agreements that the dealer will not make other advertising misrepresentations for the next 20 years. 
A West Virginia dealer in September agreed to pay an $80,000 civil penalty after the FTC charged Ramey Motors with violating the terms of a 2012 consent order that barred it from deceptively advertising the cost of buying or leasing cars.
Dot com ads are probably the biggest area currently for FTC enforcement, with common infractions that include special Internet pricing for vehicles that is different than in other ads. The FTC in 2013 produced a 53-page guide, ".com Disclosures: How to make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising."
The same consumer protection laws that apply to commercial activities in other media apply online, including activities in the mobile marketplace. The FTC’s prohibition on "unfair or deceptive acts or practices" encompasses online advertising, marketing, and sales.
In addition, many Commission rules and guides are not limited to any particular medium used to disseminate claims or advertising, and therefore, apply to the wide spectrum of online activities.