Annual Highlights 2012-2013

Protecting Consumers in a Recovering Economy

credit cards and money

Even as the economy recovers, some consumers continue to face financial challenges. The FTC takes effective actions to ensure that consumers are protected from abusive credit practices and get the information they need to make informed financial choices.

Home ownership is the American dream, but it can become a nightmare for consumers who don’t have the information they need to understand the terms of their mortgage. After reviewing hundreds of mortgage ads, the FTC alerted real estate agents, home builders, and lead generators through warning letters that their mortgage ads may be deceptive and that they needed to review them to ensure compliance with “truth in advertising” laws.

Likewise, protecting consumers burdened by debt despite the economic recovery is a priority. In AMG Services, the FTC filed a lawsuit alleging that the defendants piled on undisclosed and inflated fees and collected on payday loans illegally using threats of arrest and lawsuits. The FTC has also taken vigorous steps to stop abusive debt collection practices, obtaining settlements with the remaining defendants in the Forensic Case Management Services, Inc. (Rumson Bolling) litigation and the defendants in the Luebke Baker case, and filing a lawsuit in theGoldman Schwartz matter. The FTC also continued its prosecution of predatory operations to collect “phantom” debts, settling charges in the American Debt Crunchers matter. Litigation continues in the Broadway Global Master case, and following the FTC’s referral, a federal grand jury indicted one of the defendants on criminal fraud charges.

In addition to law enforcement, the FTC issued its Debt Buyer Study – the first empirical examination of companies in the business of buying consumer debts and trying to collect on them. The study found that while debt buying plays an important role in consumer credit, the buyers often lack important information that can result in problems, such as approaching the wrong consumers or trying to collect wrong amounts. The study recommended further research.

Outreach Highlights