What Is the Federal Trade Commission?
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency that aims to protect consumers and ensure a strong competitive market by enforcing consumer protection and antitrust laws.
Understanding the Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was established in 1914 as part of the Wilson administration's trust-busting efforts. It was tasked with enforcing the Clayton Act, which banned monopolistic practices. The FTC continues to discourage anticompetitive behavior through the Bureau of Competition, which reviews proposed mergers together with the Department of Justice.
The FTC also deals with complaints of unfair business practices such as scams and deceptive advertising. The Bureau of Consumer Protection conducts investigations into alleged abuses, carries out enforcement actions and provide educational materials to consumers. The Bureau of Consumer Protection is in charge of the U.S. National Do Not Call Registry.
The Bureau of Economics provides research support to the other two departments of the FTC, including analysis of FTC actions' potential effects.
Generally speaking, the FTC does not have the ability to directly enforce its rulings, but it can go to the courts to have them enforced.
Examples of FTC Actions
In the 1980s the FTC cracked down on deceptive pricing in the funeral home industry, requiring funeral homes to offer a written list of all prices to anyone who requests one. In the 1990s the agency conducted a number of investigations into telemarketing scams offering fictitious business opportunities. The FTC has been active in the healthcare industry, blocking the proposed acquisition of Palmyra Medical Center by Putney Memorial Hospital based on potential harm to consumers. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in the FTC's favor in 2013.