Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

On March 7, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a final rule updating recordkeeping requirements and extending the protections against misrepresentations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to businesses (Final Rule). It also announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the TSR’s coverage to inbound telemarketing calls involving technical support services. These actions are part of the FTC’s current review of the TSR, which includes the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry rules and provisions banning nearly all telemarketing robocalls to consumers.

As discussed here, earlier this week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) finalized its credit card late fee rule (Final Rule). The Final Rule sets a safe harbor amount for late fees at $8 and eliminates the annual inflation adjustments to that safe harbor amount, for larger card issuers. The timing of the Final Rule’s announcement, just days before the State of Union address, did not go unnoticed. President Biden highlighted this development in his speech, emphasizing his administration’s commitment to eliminating so-called hidden fees.

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking public comment on its proposal to amend the Rule on Impersonation of Government and Businesses (Impersonation Rule or Rule), that is being finalized by the FTC today, to add a prohibition on the impersonation of individuals. The amendment would also extend liability for violations of the Impersonation Rule to parties who provide goods and services with knowledge or reason to know that those goods or services will be used in illegal impersonations. The FTC stated the impetus for the amendment is the surging number of complaints it has received around impersonation fraud, including “deepfakes” generated using artificial intelligence (AI).

On February 13, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a blog post warning companies that it could be deemed an unfair or deceptive practice for a company to adopt more permissive data practices and to only inform consumers of such changes through retroactive amendments to its terms of service or privacy policy.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong filed suit against auto dealer Manchester City Nissan (Manchester City), its owner, and several employees for allegedly deceiving consumers about the price of certified used cars, add-ons, and government fees. Filed January 4, the lawsuit was brought under the FTC Act and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

On December 8, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (collectively, the agencies) filed an amici curiae brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reverse a district court’s decision finding that furnishers need not investigate indirect disputes involving purely legal questions under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

On December 12, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published the long-awaited regulation specific to motor vehicle dealers to address concerns of consumer deception in the sales process (Final Rule). We covered the proposed rule, introduced in June 2022, in a blog post here and podcast here. In a 3-0 vote, the FTC approved the issuance of the Final Rule, which will be published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks.

On November 30, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell announced proposed regulations that would require businesses to clearly disclose the total price of a product at the time it is presented to consumers, provide clear and accessible information on whether fees are optional or required, and simplify the process for cancelling trial offers and recurring charges. The proposed regulations are issued pursuant to the Attorney General’s rule-making power under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The stated purpose of the proposed regulations is to close gaps within the state’s consumer protection laws and to combat unfair and deceptive business practices related to fees charged across various industries.

On November 16, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) released its Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Annual Report detailing the CFPB’s 2022 activities related to debt collection practices. This comprehensive document summarizes everything FDCPA-related undertaken by the agency during 2022, including enforcement actions, a summary of consumer complaints, education and outreach initiatives, and highlights from examinations it conducted. In addition to summarizing activities in the debt collection space from the past year, the report hints at potential future activities. Tellingly, the CFPB’s focus in 2022 was predominantly on medical debt, as highlighted by its press release announcing this report.