Financial services play an important role in the daily lives of virtually all Americans. Financial Practices protects consumers in the financial marketplace from false information and unfair business practices.
- Financial Technology: As new products and services emerge in the non-bank financial marketplace and gig economy, 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.
- Lead Generation and Short-Term Lending: Financial Practices protects individuals and small businesses applying for short-term loans, including by ensuring that lending companies or their marketers do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by promising false loan terms or presenting paid-for advertising as neutral recommendations, and by taking action against companies that sell consumers’ sensitive loan application information (leads) to non-lenders, subjecting them to potential fraud and misuse.
- 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 higher education institutions that deceive consumers about their employment and earnings prospects, education lead generators that present paid-for advertising as neutral recommendations or lure consumers into providing their personal information under false pretenses, and high school diploma mills that charge consumers for worthless certificates.
- 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.
- Debt Collection: Deceptive, unfair, and abusive debt collection practices harm consumers—including small businesses—who may be unable to pay their debts because they are in financial distress. Financial Practices uses enforcement and education to protect consumers from such harmful practices. As the chief federal agency on privacy and data security, the FTC also works to shut down phantom debt brokers and collectors who mishandle consumers’ personal information and sell or collect on debts that consumers don’t owe.
- 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.
- 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 rent-to-own.