The FTC had another light week as the Commission celebrated the anniversary of President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Financial Practices testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security about the FTC’s efforts to address fraud against the military community. These stories and more after the jump.
Monday, July 11, 2022
Bureau of Competition: Merger Review
- The Federal Trade Commission announced the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The Commission commemorated the anniversary by highlighting its recent efforts to block anticompetitive mergers, including those in the energy pipeline and retail fuel outlets. Importantly, the FTC reiterated its plan to revisit the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division’s Merger Guidelines and its requirement that acquisitive firms obtain prior approval for a minimum of 10 years before closing any future transaction affecting each relevant market for which a violation was alleged. The agency also noted its investigative work in the pharmaceutical industry and U.S. labor markets as the FTC studies new initiatives for competition and antitrust enforcement. On the consumer protection side, the FTC underscored its commitment to safeguarding consumers’ right to repair their products and cited its policy statement and recent enforcement proceedings over alleged right-to-repair violations.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Fraud Against the Military Community
- Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Financial Practices, Malini Mithal, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security on the FTC’s actions to protect the military community from fraud. Associate Director Mithal reported that, in 2021, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel consumer complaint database received over 200,000 complaints from military consumers, with reported monetary harm of over $267 million. In response, the Commission has initiated enforcement proceedings or obtained settlements from companies that allegedly offered military-specific discounts or pitches as part of a broader false advertising scheme. As a result of one such action against MOBE Ltd., for example, the FTC issued $23 million in refunds to consumers. The FTC also filed complaints against websites that allegedly profited from servicemembers’ data, and as a result of one of these complaints against Career Education Corporation, the FTC issued nearly $30 million in refunds to consumers. Associate Director Mithal also highlighted the Commission’s rulemaking and enforcement in the areas of auto-related and financing practices to explain how unlawful sales and financing tactics can have an outsized impact on military personnel and their families. As an example, Associate Director Mithal cited the FTC’s complaint against Mortgage Investors Corporation of Ohio, a refinancer of veterans’ home loans, in which the Commission alleges the refinancer falsely implied that the loans it offered would come from Veterans Affairs or another government source. The testimony concluded with an overview of the Commission’s education and outreach efforts, and Associate Director Mithal pledged that the FTC “will continue to take action to protect servicemembers and the broader military community from fraud and related threats” and “will use every tool at our disposal to do so.”