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FTC report to Congress suggests legislative enhancements on consumer protection

Federal Issues FTC Congress State Attorney General Consumer Protection

Federal Issues

On April 10, the FTC issued a report addressed to Congress detailing its efforts to collaborate with state attorneys general (AGs) from across the U.S. on consumer protection law enforcement goals. The report, titled “Working Together to Protect Consumers: A Study and Recommendations on FTC Collaboration with the State Attorneys General,” was issued pursuant to the FTC Collaboration Act of 2021 and included legislative recommendations to enhance the FTC’s consumer protection efforts. The report followed a request for information issued by the FTC in June 2023, seeking public comments on how the FTC might improve collaboration with state AGs to protect consumers from fraud and ensure fairness in the marketplace.

The FTC's report was divided into three main sections:

  1. The first section outlined the existing collaborative practices between the FTC and state AGs, detailing their shared roles in combating frauds and scams, the respective law enforcement authority of the FTC and the AGs, and the ways federal and state enforcers can share the information they gather, including through networks such as the Consumer Sentinel Network consumer complaint database.
  2. The second section described best practices to ensure effective collaboration between the FTC and state AGs, including strong information-sharing practices and coordination of enforcement actions. It also suggested ways to expand the sharing of technical resources and expertise between federal and state agencies.
  3. The third section provided legislative recommendations aimed at improving collaboration efforts by providing the FTC with clearer authority to pursue legal actions. This section emphasized a request for Congress to restore the FTC’s authority to seek monetary refunds for consumers who have been defrauded, following a 2021 U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that such relief was not available to the Commission (covered by InfoBytes here). Additionally, this section suggested giving the FTC independent authority to seek civil penalties and clear authority to take legal action against facilitators of unfair or deceptive practices.

In its report to Congress, the FTC emphasized the importance of a collaborative approach to consumer protection among enforcement agencies and states, continuing to seek ways to strengthen its ties with state AGs to address future challenges.