FTC Guidelines for Websites

The Federal Trade Commission Act allows the FTC to act in the interest of all consumers to prevent deceptive and unfair acts or practices for the websites.

The Federal Trade Commission Act allows the FTC to act in the interest of all consumers to prevent deceptive and unfair acts or practices. In interpreting Section 5 of the Act, the Commission has determined that a representation, omission or practice is deceptive if it is likely to: mislead consumers and  affect consumers' behavior or decisions about the product or service.

In addition, an act or practice is unfair if the injury it causes, or is likely to cause, is: substantial not outweighed by other benefits and not reasonably avoidable.

The FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in any medium.Sellers are responsible for claims they make about their products and services. Third parties - such as advertising agencies or website designers and catalog marketers - also may be liable for making or disseminating deceptive representations if they participate in the preparation or distribution of the advertising, or know about the deceptive claims.


Under the revised guidelines, the FTC calls for every website to have a clear statement that data is being collected. It says consumers should be allowed to choose whether to have information collected, and when data collection occurs outside the traditional website context, companies should develop alternative methods of disclosure. The recommendations add that a company that collects data for behavioral advertising should provide security for it. And companies should also retain data only as long as is necessary to fulfill a legitimate business or law enforcement need. “Put simply, this could be the last clear chance to show that self-regulation can -– and will -– effectively protect consumers' privacy in a dynamic online marketplace,” said FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz in a statement.


A product that's advertised as free if another is purchased - "buy one, get one" - indicates that the consumer will pay nothing for the one item and no more than the regular price for the other. Ads like these should describe all the terms and conditions of the free offer clearly and prominently.


Testimonials and endorsements must reflect the typical experiences of consumers, unless the ad clearly and conspicuously states otherwise. A statement that not all consumers will get the same results is not enough to qualify a claim. Testimonials and endorsem