Financial services play an important role in the daily lives of virtually all Americans. Financial Practices promotes truthfulness and fairness in the provision of these services by entities within the FTC’s jurisdiction, so that consumers can make better-informed decisions.
- Debt Collection: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits deceptive, unfair, and abusive debt collection practices that can harm consumers who are unable to pay their debts due to job loss or other financial problems. Financial Practices uses enforcement and education to protect consumers from such harmful practices. It also conducts public workshops and makes policy recommendations on developments in the debt collection marketplace.
- Mortgage, Credit Card, and Other Debt Relief Services: Financial Practices targets firms that make deceptive offers to assist consumers in reducing or renegotiating secured debt, such as a mortgage or car loan, and unsecured debt, such as credit card bills. These claims mislead consumers already in financial distress as to who is providing these services, what services they will provide, and how much they charge for them. The scams vary, and include offers to provide mortgage loan modification, foreclosure relief, short sales, mortgage refinancing, debt settlement, debt negotiation, and credit counseling. Victims often find themselves in even more dire financial straits than before.
- Pay Day Lending: Many consumers who need cash quickly turn to payday loans – short-term loans with very high interest rates (i.e., 400% of more) that are generally due on the consumer’s next payday after the loan is taken out. In recent years, the availability of payday loans via the Internet has markedly increased. Unfortunately, some payday lending operations have employed deception and other illegal conduct to take advantage of financially distressed consumers seeking these loans.
- Motor Vehicle Sales, Financing, and Leasing: For most consumers, the purchase of a car or truck is their most expensive financial transaction, other than the cost of housing. Financial Practices leads the FTC's regulatory and law enforcement efforts with respect to the practices of motor vehicle dealers, most of which were exempted from the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by the Dodd-Frank Act.
- Deception Relating to Other Financial Services: Financial Practices broadly targets deception and unfairness in the marketing and provision of a diverse array of other financial products and services, such as credit repair and mortgage lending and servicing.
- Mobile Technologies: Financial Practices is home to the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Mobile Technology Unit, which leads the Bureau's efforts to promote better consumer protections in the mobile environment. Among other things, the Unit identifies potential targets for enforcement; coordinates and provides guidance on the Bureau's mobile enforcement and policy work; holds public workshops on emerging issues; and develops surveys, reports, and educational materials to highlight mobile practices of concern. As new mobile financial products emerge, Financial Practices examines them and targets unfair and deceptive practices in the mobile payments and m-commerce ecosystems.