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Posts Tagged ‘Resource’

Beware: Fair Housing Crackdown!

In Fair Housing Rules, Links, Rules&Regs on October 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm

The wrong words could cost you a fortune, and more folks are watching closer than ever before. Your competitors may be looking to turn you in. Worse yet, cash-strapped local agencies are scouring your Housing Ads for something to complain about. Formal complaints, when enforced and ruled against you bring fines in the $1,000s per word. Your settlement becomes their new funding stream.

Feedback I’m getting around the country: Bounty hunters are hungry. First step, be aware of and avoid the wrong words. Check out this word and phrase list. It’s intended as a guideline to assist in complying with state and federal fair housing laws. It is not intended as a complete list of every word or phrase that could violate any local, state, or federal statutes…new words get added by state agencies, court rulings, etc. But this is a really good reference.

If you don’t have a copy on file, here’s HUD’s Fair Housing Advertising Guidelines. If you already have this, it’s worth reading again. Then check out HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) Main Page, which has updates and timely resources — and also links to state-specific information.

Beware Federal Regs: Red Flag & Product Safety

In Links, Rules&Regs on October 12, 2009 at 9:50 pm

You’ll need to pay attention to a couple of obscure, new Federal Regulations: The FTC’s Red Flag Rule & the CPSC’s Product Safety Bans on Used Kids’ Stuff.

From the bowels of bureaucracy, the unelected faceless folks that made rules that impact our daily lives, come these efforts to curb identity theft and save children from the harms of toys once recalled but recycled below the retail radar. From the Federal Trade Commission comes the Red Flags Rule, with more in the way of clear guidance to come before they begin enforcement this November 1st. Businesses that extend credit to individuals will be expected to have a written policy in place to detect suspicious activity that could evidence or lead to identity theft. Neither one-off, nor business customer transactions are covered in the scope, but ongoing billable relationships with sole proprietors appear for the moment to require particular scrutiny — as guidance is released, I will share a model policy handbook to handle dealings with contractors and doing-business-as type accounts.

As for the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the “Improvement Act” of the same name, there are new guidelines and ongoing rulemaking process. It is illegal for anyone — from thrift stores to your neighbor by way of yard sale — to sell merchandise recalled from the retail market. And there’s a bigger budget for enforcement, especially for children’s toys, clothing and cribs. Publishers seem to be off the hook for penalties, but it might be good to suggest some warnings for ad copy on choking hazards of small toys. Otherwise, here’s the link to the Official Handbook to point clients to for their own protection.