“The Federal Trade Commission works for America’s consumers in every community.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said those words or heard them from my colleagues – and that’s a good thing. Of course, business owners are consumers, too, and the FTC works for you in two ways.
First, we strive to protect all consumers – including you, your family, friends, and employees – from deceptive practices.
Second, when scammers succeed, it's not just consumers who are harmed. There’s an economic ripple effect that undercuts the efforts of law-abiding businesses. So it bears repeating: The FTC works to protect the interests of consumers in your community, and that includes companies deserving of consumers’ trust.
But even as that goal remains constant, some things are changing – including the U.S. population and perhaps your customer base. As a country, we’re getting older and more diverse, and the FTC wants to be sure we are meeting the consumer protection needs of a changing population.
Over the past year, through the agency’s Every Community Initiative, the Bureau of Consumer Protection has worked to learn more about consumer protection issues in a wide range of communities. We’ve done outreach and education, developed partnerships with trusted community advocates, and brought law enforcement actions. Here are a few highlights from just the past year.
- 10 major conferences. We hosted workshops on how fraud affects every community, how using big data can help or harm consumers, and how debt collection affects the Latino community. We held conferences on how scams affect immigrant consumers, and our regional offices brought together key players on consumer protection for common ground conferences. And there were partnerships: The Navajo Human Rights Commission helped us reach into the Navajo Nation, and we partnered with the NAACP to reach the African-American community in Georgia. And through all these efforts, we were pleased to have the support of community and business groups.
- 140+ outreach events. Our regional and D.C. staff were everywhere this year: speaking at senior centers, schools and libraries; giving seminars for law students; holding regular meetings with legal services partners; briefing ethnic media; holding webinars for consumer advocates and other partners; participating at events on military installations and at clinics for veterans; and presenting at national and local conferences. We appreciate the continued support of local business leaders who spread the word about what we’re accomplishing together in the community.
- 15+ cases specifically affecting key communities. Most of the cases we bring affect a broad cross-section of people – so a case like last year’s settlement with AT&T really does affect every community. But some scams target specific groups – Spanish-speaking consumers, older adults, military service members, distressed homeowners, and people facing financial difficulties. We’ve also taken action against fraudsters who set their sights on small businesses.
What’s next? More. More conferences, more outreach, more cases – and we hope even more cooperation and support from local businesses. Every person we meet, every story we hear, and every complaint we receive helps us better serve the community where you do business. Please report fraud online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP when you or your employees see or suspect it. Because the FTC works for consumers in every community – including yours.