During National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), we take a look at the role of regulators and their functions. Many consumers may be unfamiliar with the job of a regulator and what it entails. While it should be no surprise that regulators play an important role in defending consumers from illegal and harmful business practices, what may be less known is the wide range of other functions that regulators perform.
Regulators are often responsible for enforcing a wide variety of laws, including those related to financial products and services. In addition, they work closely with civil agencies like the BBB and law firms to protect consumers from unfair practices. The increase in consumer complaints from 2020 to 2021 was unprecedented, and regulators have been on the front lines investigating reported issues and taking action to hold businesses accountable.
What consumer protection regulators do
Some of the key functions of regulatory agencies are to facilitate communication between businesses and consumers. Regulators also assist companies understand their legal responsibilities and develop compliance programs tailored to the scope of enforcement based on consumer complaints. They can also provide information to consumers about their rights and how to protect themselves from scams or unfair treatment in various industries. Regulators also work with other government agencies to ensure that consumer protection laws are enforced consistently across different industries. This helps to create a level playing field for businesses, and it also makes it easier for consumers to understand their rights when they shop or do business across the country.
National Consumer Protection Week is an annual event that celebrates consumer protection successes and raises awareness about the tools and resources available to help consumers protect themselves from scams and unfair treatment from businesses. This year’s theme is “Partnership for Protection,” and it focuses on the importance of partnerships between regulators and other agencies in protecting consumers. As regulators work with a wide variety of partners at all levels, they are able to develop a better understanding of various business practices within an industry. That can help ensure that consumer protection laws are enforced consistently and effectively.
The role of federal agencies
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are two agencies that collaborate with law firms to help protect consumers. These agencies receive and monitor consumer protection issues on both a federal and state level to make sure that businesses are following the law. If businesses are found to be in violation of consumer protection laws, the FTC and CFPB can take enforcement action. This can include ordering businesses to change their practices, issuing fines, or even taking companies to court.
In addition, the FTC operates the National Do Not Call Registry, which helps consumers stop unwanted telemarketing calls. The CFPB, on the other hand, is focused on financial products and services. This includes credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and banking products. The CFPB has been instrumental in developing rules to protect consumers from predatory practices in the financial services industry.
The role of state attorneys general
In addition to federal agencies, many state attorneys general also have a consumer protection unit that investigates complaints and takes enforcement action against businesses. State attorneys general are often the first line of defense for consumers, as they are able to quickly investigate complaints and take decisive action. In some cases, state attorneys general may also work with federal agencies on cases that cross state lines or involve interstate commerce. As scams impact consumers in every state, AG’s can play a vital role in protecting their constituents by raising awareness about common scams and providing resources on how to avoid them.
The role of regional consumer protection agencies
In addition to federal and state agencies, there are also regional consumer protection agencies that work with businesses and consumers to resolve complaints. These agencies can vary in size and scope, and serve as important local eyes and ears in consumer protection. Finally, the BBB has one of the largest databases of consumer complaints and reviews. BBB regional offices will often echo consumer warnings and maintains a common goal of helping to protect consumers.
During NCPW, a number of agencies and organizations will be hosting a variety of programs and activities on social media platforms to teach consumers about their rights and how to avoid being taken advantage of. These events will be held across the country, and they will provide an opportunity for consumers to learn and interact in webinars about the work of regulators and how they collaborate to stop illegal business practices. We encourage you to join us in celebrating National Consumer Protection Week by participating in one of the many events or by sharing this information with your friends and family on Twitter. #NCPW is a great opportunity to learn more about the role of regulators and the important work that they do for you! For more information about National Consumer Protection Week, visit ftc.gov/ncpw or consumerfinance.gov/ncpw.
Led by attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm with over 75 years of legal experience. The Consumer Watch Team at Finn Law Group is made up of former regulators, attorneys and experts in forensic and economic fraud. #NCPW2022.
Tags: Regulators, enforcement, unfair practices, National Consumer Protection Week, FTC, CFPB, financial products, communication, compliance, business practices