About the Bureau of Consumer Protection
Charles Harwood, Acting Director
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stops unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. We conduct investigations, sue companies and people that violate the law, develop rules to ensure a vibrant marketplace, and educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. We collect complaints about hundreds of issues from data security and deceptive advertising to identity theft and Do Not Call violations, and make them available to law enforcement agencies worldwide for followup. Our experienced and motivated staff is nimble, using 21st century tools to anticipate – and respond to – changes in the marketplace.
Seven divisions make up BCP:
- Advertising Practices protects consumers by enforcing the nation’s truth-in-advertising laws, with particular emphasis on claims for food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and alcohol, and on conduct related to high-tech products and the internet.
- Consumer and Business Education plans, develops, and implements creative national campaigns in plain English and Spanish to alert consumers to their rights and to explain the science of compliance to industry.
- Enforcement litigates civil contempt and civil penalty actions to enforce all FTC federal court injunctions and administrative orders that address consumer protection issues, including advertising and financial practices, data security, high-tech fraud, and telemarketing and other scams. The Division also coordinates FTC actions with criminal law enforcement agencies through its Criminal Liaison Unit; develops, reviews, and enforces a variety of consumer protection rules; and runs the Bureau’s Hispanic initiative, bankruptcy program, and collections shop.
- Financial Practices protects consumers from unfair or deceptive practices in the financial services area, including mortgage and debt relief scams; harmful debt collection and payday lending practices; and deceptive claims related to motor vehicle sales, financing and leasing. DFP also leads the Commission’s efforts to promote stronger consumer protections in the mobile marketplace, including protections for mobile payments and measures to prevent mobile “cramming.”
- Marketing Practices leads the Commission’s response to internet, telecommunications, and direct-mail fraud; deceptive spam; fraudulent business, investment, and work-at-home schemes; and violations of the Do Not Call and Robocall provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
- Planning & Information collects and analyzes complaints about consumer fraud, identity theft, and the National Do Not Call Registry, and makes them available to law enforcement; helps distribute redress to consumers; and provides cutting-edge technological investigative and litigation support.
- Privacy and Identity Protection protects consumers’ privacy; works to prevent identity theft and helps consumers whose identities have been stolen; and implements laws and regulations for the credit reporting industry, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
BCP’s national impact and local presence is amplified by our regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. Each office uses the full BCP playbook while ensuring BCP is attuned to the dynamism and diversity of the U.S. marketplace.
As we approach our 100th anniversary, BCP is proud to be the nation’s cop on the consumer beat, prepared to meet current challenges – and those around the corner – with expertise and excitement.