Attorney General Phil Weiser calls on Congress to protect consumers by providing FTC with much-needed tools
June 28, 2021 (DENVER) — Attorney General Phil Weiser today led a coalition of 28 attorneys general in urging Congress to ensure the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to protect consumers from fraudulent and anticompetitive conduct.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the coalition expressed its strong support for the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act (H.R. 2668), which would strengthen the FTC’s ability to require companies that engage in wrongful conduct to reimburse the consumers they harm, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision changed established practice earlier this year.
“Protecting Colorado consumers is a top priority for me as attorney general,” Weiser said. “That’s why I’m urging Congress to pass this act that will ensure the FTC has the tools it needs to hold bad actors accountable and return money that was unfairly taken from residents who, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, deserve to be protected from further financial burdens.”
For 40 years, the FTC was able to obtain equitable monetary relief for consumers by suing wrongdoers in district court. In fact, in the last five years alone, the FTC successfully recovered over $11.2 billion in refunds for consumers through court actions. Under the Supreme Court’s April 2021 decision in AMG Capital Management, LLC, et al. v. Federal Trade Commission, which limited the ability of the FTC to recover money for injured consumers, the FTC is no longer able to do so.
The FTC is an important partner to states as they police anticompetitive, unfair, and deceptive trade practices. The lack of authority to seek equitable monetary relief — directly in court proceedings — undermines the FTC’s efforts to combat unfair and deceptive practices. As the coalition — led by Weiser and New York Attorney General Letitia James — makes clear in their letter today, this, in turn, forces states to divert resources away from other consumer protection efforts and perform duties that were previously fulfilled by the FTC.
Unfair and deceptive trade practices are a serious problem in the United States and the pandemic has led to an uptick in consumer complaints. Likewise, unfair competitive practices have serious impacts on consumers and responsible businesses. Curtailing the remedies available to the FTC enables bad actors to keep their ill-gotten gains, thereby emboldening wrongdoers and incentivizing unlawful conduct.
Joining Attorneys General Weiser and James in sending today’s letter to Congress are the attorneys general of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the executive director of the Hawaii Office for Consumer Protection.