The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces federal antitrust and consumer protection laws to prevent fraudulent, deceptive or anticompetitive business practices. Its toolkit includes research, legislative maneuvering, law enforcement and consumer education and advocacy.
What is the FTC?
The FTC is an independent, bipartisan federal agency tasked with keeping the economy competitive and consumers safe. It’s composed of five Presidentially-nominated, Senate-confirmed commissioners serving seven-year terms. The FTC’s main purpose is enforcing antitrust laws and preventing anticompetitive business practices (like monopolies). It also protects consumers from predatory and fraudulent business practices.
Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act in 1914 to help “bust trusts.” Specifically, the FTC was created to enforce the Clayton Act, which banned giant monopolies from consolidating profits and power.
Gradually, Congress granted the FTC greater authority and passed a broad prohibition against “unfair and deceptive” business practices. Today, the Commission enforces or administers over 70 laws related to:
The FTC has three main goals:
To accomplish these goals, the FTC pursues a variety of avenues. To start, the FTC develops policies and establishes trade regulations specifying taboo practices. Then, it investigates suspicions of fraud, false advertising, monopolistic practices and other instances of noncompliance.
When businesses violate FTC regulations, the Commission may pursue voluntary change or take legislative or law enforcement actions. It may also seek relief for consumers through injunctions, restitutions and civil penalties.
To further its efforts, the FTC also conducts research and shares its expertise with state, federal and international legislatures and agencies. It also holds workshops and conferences and builds tools to educate consumers and businesses.
To aid in its work, the FTC operates through several bureaus, like the:
The FTC also maintains an Office of Technology Research and Investigation to assist in tech-related enforcement actions.
The FTC doesn’t just protect consumers and businesses; it also safeguards investors’ right to participate in a fair, scam-free economy.
By promoting competitive business practices, the FTC helps ensure your investments gain (or lose) value on equal footing.
The FTC’s anti-fraud activities have even prevented scammers from selling bad investments – and brought relief to investors taken in by scams.
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