“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[.]”[1]

On April 10, the FTC released a long-awaited report on its cooperation with state attorneys general (AGs). The theme of the report is clear: the FTC intends to continue its existing collaboration with AGs and enhance that collaboration through information-sharing and legislative changes.

In 2021, Congress charged the FTC with studying the agency’s cooperation with state AGs. The study was to focus on ways to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams. Last year alone, consumers lost more than $10 billion to fraud — a 14% increase from the prior year and the first time that fraud losses topped $10 billion.[2]

The FTC’s new report highlights existing information sharing related to scams and fraud, while seeking to grow information sharing in other areas of consumer protection. For instance, the report promises to expand the FTC’s provision of expert analysis and testimony to state policymakers. Input on issues like junk fees, right to repair, antitrust economics, and unfair trade practices were mentioned specifically. The report goes on to recommend legislative changes that, in the FTC’s view, would further its cooperation with AGs. These changes include expanding the agency’s authority to obtain monetary relief on behalf of consumers and providing the agency with independent authority to obtain civil penalties.

Why It Matters

The unprecedented rise in scams and fraud demanded a report of this nature. The report responds in expected ways, noting the positive relationships between the FTC and AGs. However, the report’s requested legislative changes highlight the FTC’s concern regarding its inability to recover financial penalties in certain cases. The agency wants more authority to seek such penalties and believes its ability to do so is critical to coordinating with AGs. This kind of power could increase the financial exposure and complicate the risk assessments of corporate America. We will be watching to see how AGs respond to the FTC’s report in an effort to further coordinate enforcement actions.

[1] Samuel Levine, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2024/04/ftc-issues-report-congress-collaboration-state-attorneys-general?utm_source=govdelivery.

[2] https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2024/02/nationwide-fraud-losses-top-10-billion-2023-ftc-steps-efforts-protect-public.