The federal government, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia have a wide array of mechanisms and laws to protect consumers. Consumer protection lawyers help clients navigate the complexity of these laws through counseling and representation in regulatory investigations, competitor challenges, and consumer lawsuits.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main federal agency enforcing consumer protection laws and promoting competition. The FTC works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices with traditional areas of concern centering around financial products and practices, telemarketing fraud, unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices that raise health and safety concerns, as well as those that cause economic injury. Recent priorities include domestic and international issues related to consumer data privacy and information security, credit reporting, identity theft, and the Internet of Things. Consumer protection lawyers help companies navigate the complexity of regulatory investigations, enforcement actions, and litigation brought by the FTC to achieve the best possible outcomes for their client’s business objectives.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from consumer products. The CPSC bans dangerous products, establishes safety requirements for consumer products, issues product recalls, and researches potential hazards. Lawyers who assist companies with CPSC matters can help identify and resolve potential liability issues and advise clients on internal compliance programs and the difficult issues of how and when potentially hazardous consumer products must be reported.
Consumer financial protection lawyers provide advice on new regulations, what the changes mean, and how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforces the laws. The CFPB, created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, aims to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices involving financial products and services. Lawyers also offer a range of services for financial institutions and non-financial services providers and help companies minimize risks, provide practical advice on fair credit best practices, data security, information sharing, payment programs, and permissible cross marketing practices.
Many consumer protection lawyers also assist with non-governmental organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that also protect consumers by taking complaints and investigating alleged deceptive practices. The BBB’s National Advertising Division (NAD) reviews national advertising for truthfulness and accuracy and allows national advertisers to challenge product performance and superiority claims against competitive products and all kinds of scientific and technical claims.