AdTech FTC Defense Lawyer, Advertising Compliance & AG Investigations

An FTC Defense Lawyer:

Represents online advertisers and marketers against Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state Attorney General (AG) investigations (CID) and enforcement actions. Resolves legal issues pertaining to unfair or deceptive conduct under Section 5 of the FTC Act and state UDAP laws. Minimizes risk by designing meaningful measures that effectively walk the line between commerce and compliance. Designs compliance plans to lessen liability exposure while maximizing revenue. Exclusively focused concentration on advertising and marketing law.

Hinch Newman has served as an FTC defense lawyer on some of the highest-profile online marketing-related FTC and state Attorney General cases in recent years and is a leader in defending consumer protection agency advertising enforcement actions.

Federal Trade Commission Definition

The FTC is an independent agency of the U.S. government.  Its core mission is to prevent business practices that are deceptive or unfair to consumers, or are anticompetitive.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection’s mandate is to protect consumers.  It conducts individual company and industry-wide investigations, administrative and federal court litigation, rulemaking proceedings, and consumer and business education.  The Bureau of Competition prevents anticompetitive business practices and enforces antitrust laws.

The FTC seeks to ensure that consumers are better off in a manner that avoids hindering market-generated consumer benefits.  Its first priority is bread and butter fraud enforcement.  Its second priority is to ensure that enforcement actions address concrete consumer injury.  The FTC focuses upon financial remedies that are tethered to consumer harm. Its third priority is balancing investigational burdens and improving transparency.

Federal Trade Commission Authority

Investigative AuthorityEnforcement AuthorityJudicial EnforcementCivil Penalties
FTC can prosecute any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of the United States (FTC Act Sec. 3, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 43)FTC can initiate an enforcement action if reason to believe that the law is being or has been violatedFTC can seek preliminary and permanent injunctions against deceptive advertising via Section 13(b) of the FTC ActJudicially ordered civil penalties for violating cease and desist orders
Investigative powers defined in Sections 6, 9 and 20 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. Secs. 46, 49, and 57b-1Section 5(a) (15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(a)(1) of the FTC Act declares unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce unlawful

Section 5(b) of the FTC Act permits the FTC to challenge violations of consumer protection statutes via administrative adjudication
Monetary equitable relief, asset freezes and receiverships under Section 13(b)

If an investigation is launched, or if the Federal Trade Commission or a state AG has initiated an enforcement action against your company, it is imperative that you contact an experienced FTC defense lawyer with a long-established practice of negotiating and litigating online and offline regulatory matters.

FTC Advertising Consumer Protection Enforcement and Investigation Defense

The firm’s core practice of FTC advertising law compliance and defense translates into a focus upon the complex intricacies of this burgeoning area of the law. It is this principal, particularized focus that distinguishes the firm.

The firm has extensive experience representing clients in Federal Trade Commission, state Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Consumer Affairs, Electronic Retailing Self-Regulatory Program and Public Utility Commission investigations and enforcement matters involving allegations of licensure, consumer fraud, false advertising and unfair business practices.  

The firm possesses particular skills in order to negotiate and resolve a broad range of state and federal government investigations on behalf of our clients. What do you do first?  How do you keep your options open?  How do you limit disruption and minimize the damage? How do you ensure that your company’s concerns are considered and addressed?  When faced with a government agency inquiry or complaint, responding appropriately in order to condition a positive outcome is vital.

We have successfully defended a diverse client base, including performance marketing networks and technology companies ranked on Inc. Magazine’s Annual 500/5000 List, in high-stakes government investigations and enforcement proceedings, including:

  • Product and service providers
  • Manufacturers
  • Affiliate networks
  • Pay-per-call networks
  • Aggregators
  • Publishers
  • Lead generators
  • Email marketers
  • Debt relief document preparation service providers
  • Debt collection companies
  • Home improvement contractors
  • Health and fitness clubs
  • Call centers
  • Consumer credit companies

Our extensive representative experience with Internet and telecommunications-related legal matters, coupled with an impeccable reputation amongst local, state and federal regulatory bodies, have benefitted the firm’s clients through insight into developing agency policies and the prompt closure of complex investigations (CIDS) amicably, rather than the initiation of formal enforcement proceedings.   

See our recent Representative Experience.  

Articles that Mr. Newman has authored about responding to Civil Investigation Demands and state Attorney General subpoenas can be seen, here and here

You can count on our formidable experience to navigate through government inquiries and investigations by FTC CID attorneys that may include lawsuits or proceedings, settlement discussions, consent decrees, assurances of voluntary compliance and asset freezes.  Asset freeze orders are designed to prevent the dissipation of assets, are often issued without notice and can have potentially serious consequences because they make it difficult for defendants to pay necessary living expenses, taxes and legal fees.  An experienced FTC defense lawyer can assist with the modification of onerous asset freeze orders.

If you have received an access letter, a subpoena or a civil investigative demand (CID) from a regulatory agency, or are otherwise the target of a government investigation, an audit triggered by a regulatory enforcement action or a defendant in state or federal court involving your business practices or advertising methods, contact an FTC lawyer for a free consultation to ensure that your matter is handled correctly and proactively, right from the start.

Leveraging Relationships With FTC CID Attorneys

Much of the firm’s work focuses on handling regulatory inquiries by FTC CID attorneys into deceptive marketing and unfair trade practices, with a particular focus defending corporate clients and individuals in the ad tech industry that have received an FTC CID.  Mr. Newman has successfully resolved many FTC inquiries on behalf of Internet marketers and web-based businesses, from data privacy and lead generation inquiries, to telemarketing and Consumer Review Fairness Act information requests, to FTC CID lawyers investigations focusing upon claim substantiation compliance and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (“ROSCA”).

The strength of the firm’s FTC CID investigation defense practice is its digital marketing industry focus, diverse experience and familiarity with internal regulatory processes, all of which provide us with unique insights into understanding our clients’ businesses and allocating resources in a cost-efficient manner.  This experience enables us to anticipate FTC CID attorneys next steps, reduce the length and complexity of FTC civil investigative demands, provide tailored advice, plan and execute efficient and comprehensive responses, and quickly pinpoint key issues identifying the optimal path forward with an aim toward achieving a favorable resolution with minimal business disruption or reputational damage. 

Federal Trade Commission CID law firm Hinch Newman is the go-to outside FTC CID attorney for the digital marketing and technology industries across a broad range of high-risk niches, from FinTech to call center telemarketing operations.

FTC Compliance Lawyer for Preventative Reviews of Marketing Campaigns 

Hinch Newman is able to impart preventative guidance on risk-minimization issues and develops strategic campaigns that comply with applicable advertising and marketing laws, regulations and policies.  We work side-by-side with our clients to anticipate industry developments and formulate strategic compliance measures that go a long way toward avoiding regulatory scrutiny in the first place.

Website attorneys can be an indispensable asset in connection with advertising, promotion and marketing activities.  The firm regularly advises clients on a broad range of local, state and federal laws regulating advertising endeavors, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Compliance with industry-specific regulatory and consumer protection requirements
  • Misleading and deceptive claims
  • Claim substantiation
  • Technology platform provider liabilityRichard Newman FTC Defense Lawyer on Inside Edition
  • Subscription-based and recurring revenue business models
  • Data usage, privacy and security
  • Native advertising
  • Telemarketing compliance
  • Email marketing compliance
  • Endorsements and testimonials
  • Comparative and competitor advertising
  • Sale price advertising
  • Textile and labeling requirements
  • Environmental and U.S. Origin (“Made in USA”) claims   
  • Corrective action plans
  • Debt relief doc prep operations
  • Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (“MARS”) Rule  

Experienced FTC defense lawyers possess the ability to combine sharp knowledge of digital-oriented businesses and related technologies across a range of commercial advertising laws and regulatory issues, including applicable guidelines, into a single integrated approach, enabling the firm to leverage knowledge in one area to provide practical solutions in another.

Whether you are a manufacturer, seller, advertiser or an affiliate marketing network, an outsourced affiliate program manager, a lead generator or a publisher that markets products or services on the Internet – doing business online inherently presents both unique opportunities and risks.  At Hinch Newman, years of Internet marketing compliance and regulatory defense experience in an ever-changing digital environment provides significant value to clients. 

As a distinguished FTC and state Attorney General regulatory compliance, investigation and litigation defense law firm, we also have the experience to critically examine best business practices while effectively maximizing revenue.

We are prominent authorities on unfair business practices risk-analysis and compliance issues.  You need an attorney that concentrates on conducting detailed internal audits to confirm that applicable legal and regulatory standards are being met.  We provide advice and qualitative risk-management counsel to individuals and corporations regarding new and existing regulatory initiatives, potential liability exposure, and subsequent recommendations for any necessary process changes or corrective actions to ensure compliance.

Internet Privacy Lawyer

Emerging privacy and data security compliance requirements are critical risk management components for digital advertisers and marketers. In addition to representing marketers, advertisers, media and Internet companies in connection with the legal aspects of their nationwide advertising campaigns, Hinch Newman advises clients on the design and implementation of protocols governing collecting, aggregating, disseminating and protecting user data.

Mr. Newman is an Internet business lawyer and a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.  He possesses the foundational experience to provide guidance on emerging legislative and regulatory policy issues, as well as practical and creative solutions to complex operational problems. An equally significant portion of the firm’s practice includes defending clients in federal and state data privacy-related inquiries and enforcement actions.

Helping Clients Accomplish Goals and Solve Problems

Existing and potential clients look to Hinch Newman for a broad range of pre- and post-market advertising compliance and regulatory counseling services, including:

  • Drafting and negotiating marketing agreements
  • Developing internal compliance policies to mitigate the risk of unfair or deceptive advertising practices
  • Designing and implementing appropriate remedial actions
  • Critically examining privacy and data use protocols
  • Critically examining dietary supplement promotional materials and underlying scientific literature
  • Reviewing email marketing campaigns for compliance with state and federal anti-SPAM legislation
  • Reviewing telemarketing campaigns for compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the FTC Act
  • Designing third-party marketer credentialing questionnaires
  • Reviewing promotional materials and social media campaigns for compliance with applicable guidelines and defining various threats (e.g., FTC Endorsement Guides and FTC Staff Perspectives on Lead Generation)
  • Determining the extent of vulnerabilities and consequences for non-compliance
  • Structuring online commercial marketing programs in accordance with agency regulations with a view towards warding-off potential litigation, altogether 

Regulatory investigations and enforcement actions alleging deceptive trade practices and false advertising are at an all-time high. Local, state, federal and international law enforcement partners remain extremely active in creating guidelines, and pursuing nationwide and international crackdowns that re-define how business is conducted both offline and on the Internet.

This is especially true with regard to important advertising and marketing regulatory issues such as:

  • Lead generation
  • Telemarketing
  • Commercial emailing
  • Debt collection
  • Billing practices
  • Electronic commerce
  • Website disclosures
  • Claim substantiation
  • Social media influencer campaigns
  • Creative content
  • Suppression list management
  • Website terms of use
  • Intellectual property
  • Privacy
  • Data protection 

An FTC defense lawyer works closely with diverse clients that are engaged in the promotion of nutraceutical and dietary supplements, consumer credit products, insurance service, and for-profit schools and career training programs on a wide array of issues, such as the design and implementation of promotional, pre-sale and landing page compliance strategies in order to mitigate liability exposure and maintain conversions.

Online and mobile marketing campaigns that potentially include elements of unfair business practices can potentially ignite an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, various state Attorneys General and local consumer protection agencies.

Guidelines pertaining to the use of testimonials and social media influencer campaigns are in sharp-focus within the Internet marketing sector. Additionally, the FTC’s ban on unfair and deceptive practices has allowed it to challenge harmful privacy and security-related violations.  Businesses have found themselves in the crosshairs for deceptive representations concerning the collection, use and sharing of consumer data.  See the FTC’s Privacy & Data Security Update (2016), here.

When necessary, Hinch Newman acts as a strategic adviser to its clients in furtherance of devising countermeasures should an inquiry or lawsuit be initiated.  Clearly, Internet and mobile based businesses must be wary of the risks and proceed only after consultation with an experienced advertising compliance lawyer.

Noted and Quoted

The firm is a go-to resource for journalists in search of poignant information relating to headline-grabbing advertising and marketing stories.  Mr. Newman has been interviewed by and referenced across a number of media outlets, including BBC News, The Chicago Tribune, Communications Daily, The Daily Journal, Forbes, Inside Edition, Law360MSN, Native Advertising Institute, Newsday, Privacy Law Bulletin, The Star-LedgerThe Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and Today’s Verdict.  In July 2018, Mr. Newman was quoted by Communications Daily on the new leader of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection unit.

In June 2018, Mr. Newman was asked to present a continuing legal education webinar on advertising and marketing law for Lawline.  You can view segments of the webinar here.  He frequently writes on topics of particular interest to online advertisers and marketers. As a member of the Performance Marketing Association’s Compliance Council, he authored authoritative Blogging and New Media Disclosure Information.

Mr. Newman has also been cited as an authority in conjunction with a petition for a writ of certiorari filed with the Supreme Court of the United States on the issue of whether the Federal Trade Commission is authorized to seek, and a district court to grant, monetary remedies against those that have violated the FTC Act.

Contact a law firm that focuses exclusively on Internet advertising and marketing compliance-related matters if you are the subject of a local, state or federal regulatory investigation or enforcement action, or if you are interested in implementing preventative measures.

Representative Experience

The following are examples of select regulatory investigations and enforcement matters the firm has handled to successful resolution:

  • Represented a lead aggregator in conjunction with a Civil Investigative Demand issued by the Federal Trade Commission examining deceptive and unfair acts or practices in the advertising, marketing, sale or servicing of loans and related products. The FTC was also investigating whether loan brokers, lenders, loan servicers and other marketers of loans had engaged in acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. The firm successfully secured the prompt closure of the investigation. 
  • Represented an online lead generator in conjunction with a Civil Investigative Demand issued by the Federal Trade Commission examining deceptive and unfair acts or practices in the advertising, marketing, sale or servicing of loans and related products. The FTC was also investigating whether loan brokers, lenders, loan servicers and other marketers of loans had engaged in acts or practices in violation of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, 12 U.S.C. § 5538, and the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq. The firm successfully secured the prompt closure of the investigation.  
  • Represented a leading software development academy in conjunction with a Civil Investigative Demand issued by the Federal Trade Commission examining deceptive and unfair acts or practices in the advertising, marketing or sale of secondary or post-secondary education products or services, or educational accreditation products or services in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The firm successful secured the prompt closure of the investigation.
  • Represented data broker defendants in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging in excess of $4M in consumer harm as a result of the purported collection of loan applications submitted by consumers to payday loan websites and the distribution of sensitive information to non-lenders that, in turn: (i) utilized the information to withdraw millions of dollars from consumers’ accounts without their authorization; and (ii) conducted unauthorized marketing activities by email, text message and telephone calls. The firm successfully negotiated favorable settlement terms without any admission of culpability, premised upon the truthfulness of defendants’ financial information.
  • Represented an affiliate marketer defendant in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit prosecuting what the FTC described as deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, in connection with the marketing and sale of credit monitoring services. In doing so, the FTC alleged that defendant lured consumers with fake rental property ads and deceptive promises of “free” credit reports. The firm successfully negotiated extremely favorable settlement terms, including reduced compliance reporting and recordkeeping obligations, without protracted litigation or a finding of liability. Defendant paid only a small proportion of the damages alleged by the FTC and that an affiliate marketer co-defendant was ordered to pay, premised upon the truthfulness of submitted financial information.
  • Represented online lead generators in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit wherein the Commission sought millions of dollars in damages as a result of what the FTC described as fake blogs, fake news websites, fake testimonials, the failure to disclose material connections and bogus free trial offers in conjunction with selling Acai berry weight loss products. The firm successfully negotiated extremely favorable settlement terms without any finding of liability. Defendants paid only a small proportion of the damages that their network co-defendants were ordered to pay and an even smaller fraction of the damages sought by the FTC, premised upon the truthfulness of their financial information.
  • Represented student loan debt relief defendants in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit prosecuting what the FTC described as deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, in connection with the marketing and sale of document preparation services. The FTC alleged that defendants falsely claimed to be affiliated with the Department of Education, charged consumers illegal upfront fees and collected monthly fees they falsely claimed would be credited toward consumers’ student loans. The firm successfully negotiated extremely favorable settlement terms, including retention of funds, and reduced compliance reporting and recordkeeping obligations, without protracted litigation or a finding of liability. Defendants paid only a small proportion of the damages alleged by the FTC, premised upon the truthfulness of submitted financial information.
  • Represented affiliate marketers in conjunction with a Civil Investigative Demand issued by the Federal Trade Commission examining false and misleading representations about certification programs, as well as the failure to clearly and conspicuously disclose material connections within purported independent websites. The firm successfully negotiated favorable settlement terms of nominal monetary value without any finding of liability, premised upon the truthfulness of respondents’ financial information.  The firm also successfully negotiated the exclusion of additional specific instances of alleged unlawful advertising conduct. 
  • Represented affiliate marketers in conjunction with investigations by the Florida Attorney General into the promotion of weight loss and automobile insurance products/services. The firm successfully negotiated extremely favorable settlements where respondents paid only a nominal proportion of the damages alleged by the FL OAG. Both matters were resolved promptly and quietly, without any resulting litigation or admission of culpability.    
  • Represented a pay-per-call network in conjunction with a subpoena issued by the Illinois Attorney General regarding student loan services campaigns. Specifically, the investigation focused upon potential violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by various third-party publishers pertaining to the advertising, soliciting and generation of leads from consumers interested in student loan services. The firm successfully secured the prompt closure of the investigation.   
  • Represented online marketers in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit prosecuting what the FTC described as deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, in connection with the marketing and sale of academic degree and certification programs. In doing so, the FTC alleged that defendants misled consumers about their association with recognized high school equivalency programs through the use of deceptive metatags and website names designed to look like legitimate online high schools. The firm successfully negotiated extremely favorable settlement terms without protracted litigation or a finding of liability. Defendants paid only a small proportion of the damages alleged by the FTC, premised upon the truthfulness of their financial information.
  • Represented a corporate officer defendant in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit prosecuting what the FTC described as deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, in connection with the marketing and sale of personal care product trial offers. The firm successfully petitioned the court to modify a broad-sweeping asset freeze and allow distributions for personal living expenses and to fully-satisfy outstanding debt. The firm also successfully negotiated extremely favorable settlement terms without protracted litigation or a finding of liability. Defendant paid only a small proportion of the damages alleged by the FTC, premised upon the truthfulness of financial disclosures. 
  • Represented a telemarketer in a Utah Division of Consumer Protection investigation regarding alleged violations of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Telephone Fraud Prevention Act. The Utah DCP was focused upon whether consumers were contacted to make telephone solicitations while the telemarketers were not registered as a telephone soliciting business, whether the telemarketers informed consumers of the right to cancel and whether the telemarketers failed to furnish services after receipt of payment. The matter was resolved amicably and the investigation promptly closed after payment of an extremely nominal sum by respondent. 
  • Represented an email marketing company in an investigation by the New York Attorney General relating to alleged violations of the CAN-SPAM Act. The New York OAG was focused upon the company’s email marketing practices, related compliance considerations and third-party lead generation relationships. 
  • Represented an affiliate marketing network in conjunction with a subpoena issued by the United States Attorney’s Office regarding fraudulent “tech support” advertising campaigns. Specifically, the investigation focused upon alleged misrepresentations of affiliation with Microsoft, spoofed caller IDs, and the detection of viruses or other malware.