Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez released the agency’s 2014 Annual Highlights today, emphasizing the agency’s work to protect consumers and promote competition during the past calendar year.
“With over 150 law enforcement actions taken and $640 million in consumer redress ordered, we marked the FTC’s centennial year with vigorous efforts to protect consumers and promote competition in a dynamic and continuously evolving marketplace,” Ramirez said. “Our enforcement, policy work, and business and consumer education demonstrate that the FTC is well positioned to serve the American public for another 100 years.
The agency’s Enforcement Highlights address a range of law enforcement actions in industries including health care, mobile technology, and consumer products and services. Promoting competition among health care providers remains a top priority for the Commission. A significant victory this past year for the agency in keeping health care costs low for consumers was the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding a lower court ruling that the St. Luke’s Hospital/Saltzer Group merger would be anticompetitive.
In the technology sector, the FTC took several actions to preserve competition, such as authorizing staff to block Verisk Analytics proposed $650 million acquisition of Eagle View Technology in the growing market for rooftop aerial services. The parties then abandoned the proposed merger. The Commission also continued its efforts to protect consumers’ use of mobile platforms, including actions against companies that misrepresented the security features of their mobile apps and those that failed to disclose hidden in-app charges. In addition, the agency continued its fight against cramming by focusing on mobile carriers. AT&T and T-Mobile USA agreed to pay $80 million and $90 million in refunds respectively for billing customers for unwanted third-party subscriptions.
As noted in Policy Highlights, the FTC filed eight amicus briefs on topics such as debt collection and children’s online privacy. Staff hosted 16 workshops and conferences that explored issues such as developments in the health care industry, competition issues involving biologic medicines, and technology-related issues including big data and mobile device tracking. The FTC also continues to lead efforts to develop strong mutual enforcement cooperation and sound policy with its international partners.
Finally, the FTC’s Education and Outreach Highlights recognize the agency’s work to alert businesses to compliance standards and to alert consumers to the tell-tale signs of fraud and deceptive business practices. Among the agency’s many educational products produced in 2014, the FTC launched its first Tax ID Theft Awareness Week; launched the bilingual Pass it On campaign geared toward older consumers; published three fotonovelas for Spanish speaking consumers; and launched its Every Community Initiative to expand efforts to combat fraud in all communities.
The Federal Trade Commission promotes competition and protects consumers through law enforcement, policy and research initiatives, and consumer and business education. File a consumer complaint online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). To inform the Bureau of Competition about questionable business practices, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-326-3300. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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