An Overview Of The FTC

Federal Trade Commission Logo
Federal Trade Commission Logo

In 1914, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was established as an independent, consumer protection bureau. FTC compliance requires business institutions to follow certain consumer protection regulations; the FTC also aims to eliminate and prevent anticompetitive practices (for instance coercive monopolies). Trust-busting and trusts used to be among the major political concerns of the Progressive Era and the FTC was introduced for combating the issue. Today, the FTC has significant authority over online commerce and Internet advertising.

Who Are The FTC Commissioners?

The Federal Trade Commission is headed by 5 commissioners. The President of the United States is responsible for nominating commissioners to head up the FTC; these picks then get confirmed by the Senate. Commissioners serve 7 year terms and The Federal Trade Commission ACT does not allow for one political party to hold more than 3 commissioner seats at any given time.

FTC Bureaus

The Federal Trade Commission primarily operates three bureaus: the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Competition and Bureau of Economics.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Its mandate is to protect consumers against deceptive or unfair business acts. The principal functions of this department are business and consumer education, enforcement, and investigation. Its main areas of concern include financial practices and products, marketing and advertising, identity protection, privacy protection and telemarketing fraud. In the event of compliance failure, FTC attorneys have the authority to bring actions in federal court. Certain consumer protection cases, on the other hand, are handled by the United States Department of Justice with support or assistance of the Federal Trade Commission.

Bureau of Competition: This FTC department is responsible for preventing anticompetitive business practices. The bureau completes its jobs by investigating all the non-merger trading practices that have the potential of impairing competition, reviewing the proposed mergers and enforcing antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the antitrust laws in association with the United States Department of Justice. While  the FTC looks after civil enforcement, the US Department of Justice is responsible for bringing both criminal and civil actions in case of antitrust affairs.

Bureau of Economics: This department primarily supports the other two bureaus and its main function is to research the economic impact generated by the operation and legislation of the FTC.

The Federal Trade Commission works by investigating the issues obtained from reports of businesses and consumers, reports published in media, congressional inquiries and reports filed about pre-mergers. Examples of such issues include frauds, like false advertising. The Commission may investigate FTC compliance of an entire industry or a singular business. In case, the investigation results in revelations of unlawful conduct, the FTC might ask for voluntary compliance from the offending businesses through consent orders, begin federal litigations or file administrative complaints.

The administrative complaints usually are heard in the presence of an independent ALJ or administrative law judge; the FTC staff plays the role of prosecutor. If the case emerges as  de novo according to the entire commission, a further appeal can be made in front of the United States Court of Appeals. If required, this is then followed by an appeal made to the country’s highest legal body, the Supreme Court. If you summarize the cases heard since 1996, you’ll find that not a single decision of the administrative law judge for dismissing a complaint has been upheld by the commission.

Identity theft is a major concern of the FTC. The Commission plays the role of federal repository handling each individual consumer complaint related to identity theft. The FTC is not known for resolving every individual complaint; what they do is utilizing the aggregated facts for determining the sections that require execution of federal action. You can obtain complaint forms both by phone or at the FTC’s website.

Looking for an FTC lawyer? Contact the Kelly Law Firm today.

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