Activities Regulated by the FTCA
In the broadest sense, the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) regulates any deceptive trade practices carried out by a business that are considered harmful to consumers. The FTCA created the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the FTCA. The FTCA granted the Federal Trade Commission the authority to investigate and regulate deceptive practices, take actions to protect consumers, and the power to make administrative rules designed to enforce or support the FTCA.
Types of Regulations the FTCA is Concerned With
Even though the FTCA originated out of concerns of oppressive monopolies, its reach has expanded to regulate a variety of other consumer trade violations. The one probably most familiar to consumers is false advertising. Examples of false advertising practices that would violate the FTCA include false advertising of food, drugs, devices, services or cosmetics; inaccuracy of prices, falsehoods as to "free gifts," distortions as to credit or payment terms; misleading representations as to the type, content, origin, or test/surveys relating to a product; or deceptive T.V. commercials. These examples are just a few of the types of regulations the FTCA is concerned with to ensure the protection of the general public against fraud.
FTCA and the FTC
The FTCA authorizes the FTC to respond to any new schemes to harm or defraud consumers. For example, several years ago, many collection agencies began using extremely harassing techniques to get debtors to pay their debts. The FTC intervened to regulate debt collection agencies and pursued enforcement actions that enjoined or penalized bad debt collectors.
During the recession, the FTCA authorized the FTC to take actions to prevent deceptive practices associated with the credit and loan industry because so many consumers had been defrauded by deceptive lending practices. In recent years, concerns have increased relating to identity theft. Right now the FTC is encouraging legislation to protect consumers who own smart phones from privacy lapses that could result in their identity being stolen. As technology changes, the FTC will recommend or make rules to provide for more privacy protection.
FTCA, FTC and Fraud
The bottom line is that the FTCA covers just about every aspect of a business's operation as it impacts consumers. It is not merely an anti-monopoly statute. Because of the increase in scams directed towards consumers, the FTCA also authorizes the FTC to proactively regulate consumer fraud. If you see an advertisement that almost seems too good to be true, it probably is. Review the FTC website for consumer alerts relating scams and fraudulent advertisements.