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 student loan debt or 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.
- Lead Generation and Short-Term Lending: Financial Practices protects consumers applying for short-term loans, including by ensuring that lending companies do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by promising false loan terms and by taking action against companies that sell consumers’ sensitive loan application information (leads) to non-lenders, subjecting it to potential fraud and misuse.
- 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 efforts to protect consumers from deceptive or unfair practices in auto purchasing, financing and leasing transactions.
- Financial Technology: As new financial products emerge in the non-bank financial marketplace, Financial Practices has been examining these developments, reaching out to stakeholders, and bringing actions emphasizing that companies using new technologies must follow the same basic laws as traditional market participants, including by honoring promises to consumers and gaining consumers’ consent to charges.
- Education: Consumers invest a substantial amount of money in education. Financial Practices leads the FTC’s enforcement efforts against deceptive and unfair practices in the education sector, including by taking action against high school diploma mills that charge consumers for worthless certificates, higher education institutions that deceive consumers about their employment and earnings prospects, and education lead generators that lure consumers into providing their personal information under false pretenses.
- 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.