The United States notified more than 700 companies, brushing good reviews/deceiving customers, etc., and a fine of 280,000!

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said this week that it will fine companies that use fake online reviews or other deceptive endorsements to deceive customers.

The U.S. government agency made the announcement Wednesday after it sent a letter to more than 700 leading companies warning them against using such illegal practices in their online marketing and advertising campaigns, as they could lead to severe penalties.

Serena Viswanathan, deputy director of the FTC, said in the letter: “Upon receipt of the notice, your company will be aware that engaging in the conduct described may subject the company to civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.”

“FTC staff are not singling out your company or implying that you are engaged in deceptive or unfair practices. We are distributing similar letters and Notice.”

They are also required to distribute the letter and penalty notices to all subsidiaries that sell services and products within the United States.

The full list of companies that have received FTC warning letters includes many well-known companies, including Adobe, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, BestBuy, Burger King, Chipotle, Dell, eBay, Expedia, Google, KFC, Macy’s, Microsoft, McDonald’s, PayPal, Tesla, Uber, UPS, Valve, Walgreen, Walmart, Wendy, Yelp, etc.

Full list of over 700 companies:

As detailed in notifications received from hundreds of companies this week, illegal actions and practices that could lead to penalties include:

Falsely claiming a third-party endorsement; misrepresenting the endorser as an actual user, current user, or recent user; continuing to use endorsement without good reason to believe that the endorser continues to agree with the point made;

Misrepresent the user’s experience, views or opinions that endorse or claim to represent the user;

Use endorsements to make deceptive performance claims;

Failure to disclose unexpected material links with endorsers;

And misrepresent the endorser’s experience to represent a typical or ordinary experience for consumers.

The warning was prompted by a flood of deceptive endorsements and reviews in the online marketplace, a trend that has been amplified by social media in recent years, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between advertisements and genuine content.

The FTC issued its first penalty violation for endorsements against Wilbert W. Haase Co., Inc. in 1941, and its last against Cliffdale Assocs., Inc. in 1984.

“Fake reviews and other forms of deceptive endorsements deceive consumers and undermine honest businesses,” added Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

“If they engage in these deceptive practices, advertisers will pay.”

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