FTC Releases 2016 Annual Highlights
On March 28, the FTC released its 2016 Annual Highlights Report, which outlines the agency’s ongoing efforts over the past year to protect consumers and promote competition. Acting Chairman Maureen K. Olhausen stated, “2016 was a historic year for the FTC. We obtained almost $12 billion in redress for consumers, and took action in more than a dozen merger cases to preserve competition.” Key highlights in four sections—enforcement, policy, education, and stats and data—covered multiple sectors such as health care, technology, and other consumer products and services. Regarding enforcement highlights in 2016, the report covered a range of administrative and court actions related to, among other things, privacy and data security issues, particularly in the mobile marketplace, as well as the Commission’s largest false advertising settlement in its history with a global auto manufacturer. The policy section of the report highlights eight amicus briefs filed on topics such as reverse payments and the FDCPA, as well as its efforts to provide guidance and recommendations on topics such as sharing economy platforms, big data, and fraud. The education section covers topics such as consumer guidance on fraud, scams, and deceptive business practices prevention, and notes that it published almost 200 blog posts for consumers. Notably, according to the stats and data section of the report, the FTC received more than three million consumer complaints in 2016, consisting of 858,090 debt collection complaints, 503,967 “other” complaints, and 406,578 imposter scam complaints.