Annual Highlights 2018

Education

The Commission informs consumers and businesses in a variety of ways.

In 2018, the agency published 15 blog posts through its Competition Matters blog. Popular topics included vertical merger analysis, the scope of in-house attorney-client privilege, HSR reporting requirements for non-profit entities, and merger timing agreements. The FTC and DOJ also hosted a workshop on new developments in residential real estate brokerage.

In 2018, the Bureau of Consumer Protection published 279 consumer blog posts (180 in English, 99 in Spanish). In addition, the Consumer Center blog has attracted more than 282,000 subscribers (231,000 in English, nearly 51,000 in Spanish). The most-viewed blog post was about scammers who impersonate the Social Security Administration; other popular blogs related to imposters, including romance scammers, cons who pretended to have video of a victim and demanded payoff in bitcoin, and scammers who faked caller ID to look like local callers. Readers were interested in the FTC’s refund of $505 million to 1.1 million payday loan customers, and keeping up with consumer news about free credit freezes and new Medicare cards. In 2018, the FTC’s consumer sites logged nearly 44 million pageviews. The agency also distributed nearly 13.4 million free print publications.

The FTC’s Business Center blog developed 114 blog posts for businesspeople and attorneys, with nearly 77,000 subscribers. The FTC’s business resources logged 9.7 million pageviews.

In addition, members of the public ordered more than 600,000 copies of 14 business education titles and registered more than 91,000 views of FTC business videos at business.ftc.gov.

Donate with Honor was one of last year’s large education initiatives to help people donate wisely and avoid scams related to charities that supposedly help veterans. The effort included a video, two infographics, five articles, and a robust network of partners across the country. The FTC also worked with the National Association of State Charities Officials, and state charities regulators across the country on the first annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, an international campaign to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and promote wise giving.

In 2018, the FTC developed the Cybersecurity for Small Business program to equip small business owners and non-profit managers with resources to educate themselves and their employees to avoid and respond to cybersecurity threats. The contents, style, and variety of resources have been based on information the FTC gathered during roundtable discussions with people in the target audience to discuss their greatest concerns related to cybersecurity, and how the federal government could help them. Employers can start with the one-page discussion guide that explains how to use material and discuss cybersecurity with employees. They then can use three online, instant-response quizzes to measure employees’ understanding. As participants had asked, the FTC created the campaign with other agencies: the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The FTC also released updated guidance for consumers and businesses on how to spot and avoid losing money to a tech support scam, including a new three-minute video featuring a consumer who fell victim to a tech support scammer.

The Commission also developed a booklet for businesspeople, Scams and Your Small Business: A Guide for Business. It explains common scams that target small businesses and non-profit organizations, describes scammers’ tactics, and provides steps people can take to protect their company from scams.