Division of Enforcement
The Division of Enforcement litigates civil contempt and civil penalty actions to enforce federal court injunctions and administrative orders in FTC consumer protection cases; coordinates FTC actions with criminal law enforcement agencies through its Criminal Liaison Unit; develops, reviews, and enforces a variety of consumer protection rules; coordinates multi-pronged initiatives to address current consumer protection issues; and administers the Bureau of Consumer Protection's bankruptcy program.
The Division monitors compliance with administrative and federal court orders entered in FTC consumer protection cases. These orders address a wide range of consumer protection issues, including advertising and financial practices, data security, high-tech fraud, and telemarketing. The Division:
- conducts investigations of possible order violations
- files civil contempt actions in federal court to enforce injunctions
- initiates court actions to obtain civil penalties for administrative order violations
Criminal Liaison Unit
The Division's Criminal Liaison Unit coordinates with criminal law enforcement agencies across the country to encourage criminal prosecution of consumer fraud. CLU:
- identifies criminal law enforcement agencies that may bring specific types of consumer fraud cases
- educates criminal law enforcers in areas of FTC expertise;
- coordinates training with criminal authorities to help the FTC prepare cases for referral and parallel prosecutions
- provides Special Assistant United States Attorneys to help prosecute the worst FTC Act violators.
Rules and Guides
The Division develops, reviews, and enforces a variety of consumer protection rules, including:
- Energy Rules, which require the disclosure of energy costs of home appliances (the Appliance Labeling Rule), octane ratings of gasoline (the Fuel Rating Rule), and the efficiency rating of home insulation (the R-Value Rule). See the FTC's Energy & Environment information for businesses
- Green Guides, which provide guidance about claims that consumer products are environmentally safe, recycled, recyclable, ozone-friendly, or biodegradable
- The "Made in USA" Enforcement Policy Statement, which provides guidelines for domestic origin claims
- The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule, which requires companies to ship goods when promised (or within 30 days if no time is specified) or to give consumers the option to cancel their order for a refund
- Textile, Wool, Fur, and Care Labeling Rules, which require proper origin and fiber content labeling of textile, wool, and fur products, and care label instructions attached to clothing and fabrics.
- Jewelry Guides, which provide guidance about claims about precious metals, gemstones, and pearls
Consumer Protection Initiatives
The Division coordinates initiatives that address current consumer protection issues. For example, the Hispanic Law Enforcement and Outreach Initiative addresses deceptive advertising aimed at Spanish-speakers, and the Negative Option Marketing Initiative addresses deceptive practices in the use of negative option offers, when a seller interprets the consumer's silence, failure to take an affirmative action to reject goods or services, or failure to cancel the sales agreement as acceptance of an offer. These initiatives involve:
- litigating civil actions against marketers that deceive consumers
- convening workshops with other government agencies, businesses, consumer groups, and community-based organizations and
- issuing reports that analyze marketplace trends affecting consumers
The Division provides guidance to litigators throughout the Bureau of Consumer Protection on bankruptcy-related issues and represents the FTC in Federal Bankruptcy Court.