FTC Issues Dodd-Frank Report to Congress, Focused on Debit Card Transactions

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The Federal Trade Commission issued a report to Congress explaining steps the agency has taken in connection with new rules on debit card transactions that were put in place last year by the Federal Reserve Board as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.   

The FTC shares authority to investigate and enforce the new Dodd-Frank requirements with other financial regulators.  The Commission’s enforcement work generally focuses on the conduct of payment card networks and certain other non-bank entities.  Regulations related to payment card network exclusivity and routing became fully effective in April 2012. 

The FTC has embarked on outreach, law enforcement, and policy efforts to implement the new rules.  For instance, the FTC sought to help make businesses aware of new options for processing electronic payments that might lower their costs.  The FTC issued a publication, translated into Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese, explaining the new rules and inviting merchants and others with complaints to contact the FTC at paymentcard@ftc.gov

Over the past year, FTC staff has met with merchants and other stakeholders to discuss their concerns, and consulted with attorneys and economists at the Federal Reserve Board regarding the scope of the new regulations.  The FTC also has begun an initial investigation to determine whether certain payment card networks may be violating Section 1075 of the Dodd-Frank Act or Regulation II, the Federal Reserve rule implementing that section.

In related activities, the FTC has taken actions under the FTC Act and other regulations against payment processors that have engaged in unfair, deceptive, or otherwise illegal conduct.  The Commission has educated consumers to help them be alert for potential problems and make better-informed decisions when using payment cards.  The FTC hosted a workshop on mobile payment systems and their impact on consumers in April 2012, to educate stakeholders on market developments.

Congress directed the Commission to provide the report in language accompanying last year’s appropriations bill.  The Commission vote approving the report to Congress was 5-0.  (FTC File No. P133900; the staff contact is Kelly Signs, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-3191.)

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action.  To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to antitrust{at}ftc{dot}gov, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Ave., Room 7117, Washington, DC 20001.  To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read Competition Counts.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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