Millions of Americans have been struggling with their finances as a result of tough economic times in recent years, and stopping scammers from stealing consumers’ last dollars is an ongoing priority for the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has a range of tools to do this, including the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive business practices. The agency also takes action by issuing regulations to protect consumers, including rules covering mortgage foreclosure assistance services, credit reports, mortgage advertising, debt relief services sold by telemarketers and other financial products and services. The FTC’s authority covers for-profit entities such as mortgage companies, mortgage brokers, creditors, and debt collectors – but not banks, savings and loan institutions, and federal credit unions. The agency also has law enforcement and, in some cases, regulatory powers under the Truth in Lending Act, the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, the Consumer Leasing Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Credit Repair Organizations Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, and the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The FTC’s extensive consumer education efforts help consumers manage their financial resources, avoid fraud and deception, and learn about emerging scams.
In 2010, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, Dodd-Frank establishes a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the authority to supervise and regulate entities that offer or provide consumer financial products or services. The CFPB will enforce over a dozen consumer financial protection laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting , Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and Truth-in-Lending Act. In addition, the CFPB will have the power to stop practices that are “unfair, deceptive, or abusive.” The FTC shares authority with the CFPB to enforce the consumer protection laws with respect to non-bank financial institutions.