This week, the FTC cracked down on day-trading investment advertising and Chair Khan discussed the agency’s enforcement priorities, including the proliferation of non-compete agreements. The Commission tentatively announced it will discuss expansive changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule at its April 28 Open Commission Meeting. These stories and more after the jump.
Continue Reading FTC Updates (April 18-22, 2022)

The FTC had a busy week in the consumer protection realm. The agency settled with several companies over allegations ranging from shoddy data security to a full-on credit card laundering scam. Chair Khan and DOJ Assistant AG Kanter have remained busy in their efforts to gather information on merger guidelines, and, in case there wasn’t enough on the FTC’s plate, a U.S. Senator has asked the agency to dig up evidence of wrongdoing in the gas and oil markets. More on all of this after the jump.

Continue Reading FTC Updates (March 14-18, 2022)

Monday, February 28, 2022

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Credit Card Debt Fraud

  • The FTC has permanently banned a group of alleged scammers from the debt relief industry and has imposed a monetary judgment of $5.3 million. The ban and judgment stem from a settlement related to a lawsuit in which the Commission and the Florida Office of the Attorney General alleged that the defendants tricked seniors and financially distressed consumers into signing up for a debt relief scheme by “bombarding” them with telemarketing calls. Under the alleged scheme, the defendants falsely claimed that consumers could save thousands of dollars in credit card interest, when in reality the defendants did little more than collect upfront fees from consumers. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the stipulated final order based on the settlement.


Continue Reading FTC Updates (February 28-March 4, 2022)

Monday, January 31, 2022

Consumer Protection: Privacy & Facial Recognition

  • FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson issued a series of letters to Senators Ron Wyden, Maria Cantwell, and Roger Wicker as well as House of Representatives members Jan Schakowsky, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Gus Bilirakis to request review of a proposed contract between the IRS and ID.me, an identity verification software company. Ms. Wilson’s letters highlight a recent Washington Post article predicting that taxpayers may have to scan their faces in order to access their IRS tax accounts. She also expresses concerns that ID.me’s software would not adequately protect the privacy of taxpayer records and could cause other harms, referencing a 2019 hack of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol database, which exposed thousands of photos of Americans. Commissioner Wilson notes that the recipients of her letters are leaders on privacy issues in the House and Senate, and she offered the FTC’s assistance with this request.


Continue Reading FTC Updates (January 31-February 4, 2022)

Monday, January 24, 2022

Bureau of Competition: Premerger Notification Filings

  • The FTC announced the 2022 updates on the size of transactional thresholds for premerger notification filings and interlocking directorates. The size-of-transaction thresholds for reporting proposed mergers and acquisitions under Section 7A of the Clayton Act will adjust to $101 million, up from $92 million. The thresholds under Section 8 of the Act that trigger prohibitions on certain interlocking memberships on corporate boards of directors were also updated: $41,034,000 for Section 8(a)(l) and $4,103,400 for Section 8(a)(2)(A). Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a statement, and Chair Lina M. Khan joined, which highlighted the FTCs updates and showed support for Congress’ efforts to increase certain fees and implement other adjustments to ensure that it is keeping pace with the U.S. economy.


Continue Reading FTC Updates (January 24–28, 2022)

The issue:

Simon Property Group recently made news by bidding to make two big acquisitions. In December, it agreed to pay $2.33 billion (including debt) to acquire Prime Outlets from Lightstone Group. More recently, it bid $10 billion to acquire its biggest rival, General Growth Properties, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings. Simon’s moves have attracted the attention of the FTC, which has already reached out to retailers for input on the potential mergers.

What you need to know:
In analyzing potential mergers, the FTC focuses on the impact of the transaction on customers; fewer competitors may mean less competition and higher prices. In the case of the potential Simon acquisitions, the FTC will be interested in the impact on tenants, including whether the proposed mergers will affect the options available to tenants and rents charged. As part of its inquiry, the FTC is likely to reach out to key retail tenants that may be affected by the mergers. In fact, the FTC has already contacted key retailers that may be affected by the Prime Outlets merger. The FTC will likely ask retailers what alternatives they have to the relevant shopping centers, whether retailers are concerned about the proposed transactions, and whether the merging parties have market power (i.e., the power to raise rents directly, or through reducing landlord support for tenant improvements).

Continue Reading Mall Mergers: When the FTC Comes Calling