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The Federal Trade Commission enforces a variety of antitrust and consumer protection laws affecting virtually every area of commerce, with some exceptions concerning banks, insurance companies, non-profits, transportation and communications common carriers, air carriers, and some other entities. The agency leverages its resources and targets its enforcement efforts at practices that cause the greatest harm to consumers.

The basic statute enforced by the FTC, Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, empowers the agency to investigate and prevent unfair methods of competition, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce. This creates the Agency’s two primary missions: protecting competition and protecting consumers. The statute gives the FTC authority to seek relief for consumers, including injunctions and restitution, and in some instances to seek civil penalties from wrongdoers. The FTC has the ability to implement trade regulation rules defining with specificity acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive and the Commission can publish reports and make legislative recommendations to Congress about issues affecting the economy. The Commission enforces various antitrust laws under Section 5(a) of the FTC Act as well as the Clayton Act. The FTC monitors all its orders to ensure compliance.

Overview of the FTC’s investigative and law enforcement authority

The FTC conducts regular reviews of all its rules and guides on a rotating basis to make sure they are up-to-date, effective, and not overly burdensome. The agency has been doing these reviews since 1992, and has eliminated dozens of rules and modified many others to keep pace with changes in the marketplace.

All FTC investigations are non-public. If a company itself announces that it is the subject of an FTC investigation, we can confirm that fact. However, we can’t discuss complaints about specific companies or the status of ongoing investigations. Broad categories of complaints filed with FTC and other organizations can be found on our Consumer Sentinel website.

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