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FTC Issues Report to Congress Highlighting Collaboration with State Attorneys General

On April 10, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report to Congress on the agency’s collaboration with state attorneys general highlighting current cooperative law enforcement efforts, best practices to ensure continued collaboration and legislative recommendations to enhance such efforts.

The report, directed by the FTC Collaboration Act of 2021, “Working Together to Protect Consumers: A Study and Recommendations on FTC Collaboration with the State Attorneys General” makes legislative recommendations that would enhance these efforts, including reinstating the Commission’s authority to seek money for defrauded consumers and providing it with the independent authority to seek civil penalties.

“Today’s consumer protection challenges require an all-hands-on-deck response, and our report details how the FTC is working closely with state enforcers to share information, stop fraud, and ensure fairness in the marketplace,” said FTC attorney Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We look forward to seeking new opportunities to strengthen these ties and confront the challenges of the future.”

In June 2023, the Commission announced a request for public information (RFI) seeking public comments and suggestions on ways it can work more effectively with state AGs to help educate consumers about, and protect them from, potential fraud. After reviewing and analyzing the comments received, the agency developed the report to Congress issued today. The report is divided into three sections: 1) The FTC’s Existing Collaborative Efforts with State
Attorneys General to Prevent, Publicize, and Penalize Frauds and Scams; 2) Recommended Best Practices to Enhance Collaboration; and 3) Legislative Recommendations to Enhance Collaboration Efforts.

The first section lays out the roles and responsibilities of the FTC and state AGs in protecting consumers from frauds and scams, provides an overview of their respective law enforcement authority, and discusses how federal and state enforcers share their information and expertise to facilitate effective communication and cooperation. It also provides a breakdown of the FTC’s
structure and a description of the Consumer Sentinel consumer complaint database, the largest such information-sharing network in the United States.

The second section details best practices used to enhance strong information-sharing between the FTC and its state law enforcement partners, discusses how the Commission coordinates joint and parallel enforcement actions with state AGs and other state consumer protection agencies, and presents ideas on expanding the sharing of expertise and technical resources between agencies.

Finally, the third section stresses the legislative need to restore the FTC’s Section 13(b) authority to seek equitable monetary refunds for injured consumers, presents ways to enhance collaboration and conserve resources by providing the FTC with the independent authority to seek civil penalties, and describes the agency’s need for clear authority to pursue legal actions against those who assist and facilitate unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

The Commission vote approving the report to Congress was 3-0-2, with Commissioners Melissa Holyoak and Andrew N. Ferguson not participating. Chair Lina M. Khan issued a separate statement, in which she was joined by Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Alvaro M. Bedoya. Commissioner Slaughter also issued a separate statement.

© 2024 Hinch Newman LLP
by: Richard B. Newman of Hinch Newman LLP
For more news on FTC’s collaboration with state attorneys, visit the NLR Antitrust & Trade Regulation section.

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