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About the Region

Jon Miller Steiger, Director
Larissa Bungo, Assistant Director

The East Central Region fulfills the FTC’s consumer protection mission by bringing law enforcement actions to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices; building state and local partnerships; and educating consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.

Headquartered in Cleveland, this regional office serves the residents of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Notable Cases and Outreach

International Harvester is considered the FTC’s seminal case on unfairness, and remains one of the most thoroughly explained applications of the FTC’s unfairness doctrine, providing substantial guidance for years to come. Shortly before the FTC released its policy statement on unfairness in 1980, the East Central Region (ECR) alleged that a design aspect of the fuel tank in certain gasoline-powered tractors made by International Harvester Company could cause fuel to shoot high into the air, but the company did not adequately disclose this risk. At times, the fuel ignited, resulting in one death, several injuries, and property damage. The Commission determined that International Harvester Company committed an unfair practice in selling these tractors. While the occurrence of injury was small, the injury caused in those instances was substantial. Any benefits to the company of not disclosing the risk did not outweigh the injury. Furthermore, consumers, unaware of the risk, could not take reasonable steps to avoid it.

For twenty years, the East Central Region (ECR) has specialized in protecting businesses from scams. ECR began the 21st century focused on operations that sold vending machine business opportunities to consumers nationwide, misrepresenting that purchasers were likely to earn substantial income from the business. Later that decade, ECR stopped a number of yellow pages and other business directory scams. In addition, working with its Montreal-based partners, ECR coordinated a sweep against telemarketers alleged to have bilked thousands of small- and medium-sized U.S. businesses and non-profits, including churches, schools, and charities, out of millions of dollars by deceiving them into paying for listings they never ordered in worthless business directories. In recent years, ECR has cracked down on unordered merchandise scams, in which companies trick small businesses and non-profits into paying for overpriced office and cleaning supplies they never ordered, and has stopped tens of millions of dollars of fraud in this one area alone. In 2018, ECR helped coordinate a group of cases highlighting scams against small businesses as part of Operation Main Street, and contributed to the development of the FTC's website dedicated to protecting small businesses.

The East Central Region (ECR) maintains valuable partnerships with non-profits and federal, state, and local agencies throughout its region. These include agency-to-agency relationships, such as with various Better Business Bureau offices, as well as group partnerships like the Cleveland Consumer Action Network. ECR is also the FTC’s liaison to our consumer protection law enforcement partners in Québec, Canada, and is a member of a cross-border partnership with Canadian and U.S. law enforcement. ECR carries out the Bureau’s consumer and business education missions in the region by speaking to groups of consumers; educating businesspeople; giving interviews to radio, TV, and print media; and working with elected officials throughout the Region’s seven states and the District of Columbia.

Take Action

Have a consumer complaint? You can report it:

computer icon Online:
Complaint form
phone icon By phone (toll free):
877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
Monday through Friday
e-mail icon By Mail:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20580

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