What is the Federal Trade Commission?
In September of 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act to help prevent unfair competition.
It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who would place the cornerstone on the FTC’s headquarters, saying:
“May this permanent home of the Federal Trade Commission stand for all time as a symbol of the purpose of the government to insist on a greater application of the golden rule to conduct the corporation and business enterprises in their relationship to the body politic.”
The FTC was created to be an independent administrative agency, also known as a bipartisan agency.
It is “dedicated to advancing consumer interests while encouraging innovation and competition in our dynamic economy,” according to the FTC’s website, www.ftc.gov.
When your identity has been compromised or that special promise of a new invention you bought doesn’t work out as it should have, where do you turn for help?
For more than 100 years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been “protecting consumers and promoting competition” by working to create policies and developing research tools in a variety of ways.
What does the FTC do?
The FTC works to keep markets “open and free” in the United States by enforcing the nation’s anti-trust laws.
The agency is known to promote competition among businesses by challenging some mergers and practices thought to harm consumers.
This is done by developing fewer choices, reducing innovation, or creating higher prices.
Competition isn’t the only goal of the agency.
Consumers are also a priority for the FTC.
The agency works to shield Americans from “unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices.”
This could be in the form of an investigation or lawsuit against a person or company thought to be violating U.S. law.
Education and policy creation are also a component of the Federal Trade Commission.
Identity theft is the No. 1 consumer complaint filed with the FTC and law enforcement agencies.
The FTC doesn’t have criminal jurisdiction over identity theft cases, but helps investigators and supports the prosecution of scammers and other types of criminals.
The FTC also compiles an Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse as part of a complaint database.
The commission stays on top of growing concerns involving malware and spyware, “phishing scams,” and other devious activities.
In recent years, the FTC has championed such laws as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, which gives you the right to one free credit report each year from credit-reporting agencies.
The Act is also helping prevent identity theft.
The Do Not Call Registry Act, also passed in 2003, targets unwanted telemarketers.
The Act prevents commercial telemarketers from calling a phone number listed on the registry.
What can the FTC do for me?
With one quick visit to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.ftc.gov, you have the option to:
- File a consumer complaint, such as a scam, SPAM, or other issue
- Report identity theft and learn how to start a recovery plan
- Get a free credit report and learn how to deal with debt
- Register your phone on the do-not-call list
- Sign up for the latest scam alerts via email
Because the FTC sues companies that it believes is making false or deceptive promises about a service or a product, some consumers may be eligible for refunds from those companies from time to time.
If you’ve been involved in an FTC case that resulted in the award of a refund, you can also apply for that on the agency’s website or learn about issues related to those cases.