Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Privacy, Security, and Identity Theft

  • The Commission has released a new data book aggregating information from 2021 consumer reports about fraud, identity theft, and similar topics in the field of consumer protection. The FTC received over 5.7 million reports in 2021, and the reports reflected a combined loss of over $5.8 billion dollars, a staggering 70% increase over 2020. Of these reports, approximately half pertained to fraud, and one in four fraud reports also reported monetary losses. The most common type of fraud reported was an imposter scam, where a scammer posing as a trusted friend or government agency asks for money. Within the realm of identity theft, which made up 25% of consumer reports, the most common type of theft related to misuse of personal information to apply for government documents or benefits, such as unemployment. The data book also breaks down the most common types of reports within each state and includes appendices listing major data contributors, descriptions of report categories, and a comparison of the various report categories over the past three years. The actual consumer reports are uploaded to the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database used by law enforcement to identify suspicious trends and business practices.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive Marketing

  • The FTC is issuing over $930,000 in refunds to 20,437 consumers who purchased certain tea products from Teami, LLC. The refunds follow a successful lawsuit in which the Commission alleged that Teami marketed and sold teas using deceptive health claims that the teas could help consumers lose weight and treat cancer, migraines, flus, colds, and clogged arteries. This lawsuit predates the FTC’s loss of its ability to obtain equitable monetary relief in federal court for consumers following an April 22, 2021 Supreme Court decision.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Equal Credit Opportunity Act

  • The agency submitted a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlining its activities related to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”). Such activities include the FTC’s participation in a joint amicus curiae brief on whether the ECOA applies to individuals and businesses after they have received credit; research and policy development related to communities of color and the military; and consumer education efforts such as blog posts. The Dodd-Frank Act allows both agencies to have authority to enforce the ECOA, and the two agencies have subsequently coordinated their enforcement efforts. Accordingly, this letter is designed to assist the CFPB in its preparation of its annual report to Congress.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Bureau of Competition: Input on Issues Affecting Consumers and Businesses

  • The Commission issued a request for public input regarding the business practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (“PBMs”) and their impact on patients, physicians, employers, pharmacies, and other businesses. The request is broad and covers conduct potentially relating to both consumer protection and competition, including information about rebates, fees, contract terms, audit provisions, specialty drug criteria, and conflicts related to vertical consolidation. The docket for comments is located at this link and will remain open until April 25, 2022. The FTC has also extended the deadline for public comments about the impact of supply chain disruptions through March 14, 2022.