FTC in action

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In these unprecedented times, the Commission is working on all fronts to stop pandemic-related scams or deception – and to warn consumers and businesses about them. But our work in other areas continues, too. Today, we’re taking a minute to take stock of some of the highlights from 2019.

Law and order. Fraudulent telemarketers, disreputable debt collectors, imposters, and other schemers follow the headlines and are good at what they do. That’s why the FTC’s investigations and lawsuits are so important – they uncover scammers’ lies and close down their operations. On the consumer protection front, the Commission:

  • obtained 19 administrative orders, 97 orders requiring redress, disgorgement, and permanent injunctions, and 10 civil penalty orders; and
  • filed 27 administrative actions, 41 matters in federal court, and eight civil penalty matters.

Money for consumers. When we can, we get money back for people who lost it – and in 2019, the Commission got back more than $232 million in refunds for consumers.

Breaking new ground. The Commission achieved some notable “firsts” in 2019, such as its first case to challenge fake paid reviews on an independent retail site and its first case against a VOIP service provider for a key role in promoting a deceptive scheme.

Staying in the loop. In 2019, this blog – with nearly 83,000 subscribers – featured 119 blog posts for businesspeople and attorneys. During the same period, the public ordered more than 1.6 million copies of 17 business publications (in English and Spanish) and watched the FTC’s business videos for more than 165,800 views.

Talking to influencers. Last year, the Commission launched its new publication, Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers, which offers guidance to influencers and advertisers about how to communicate the “clear and conspicuous” standard in a legally accurate way. The brochure was designed to convey the information in a manner that resonates with a social media-savvy audience. The accompanying how-to video registered more than 17,000 views in its first two months.

On the road. Last summer, the FTC held Green Lights-Red Flags: FTC Rules of the Road, a workshop in Atlanta that covered truth-in-advertising, data security, antitrust law basics, and other compliance topics. More than 200 business executives, in-house counsel, law firm practitioners, and ad agency personnel attended.

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