State Consumer Protection and Enforcement in an ERA of Federal Deregulation

by Bill McClellan on Aug 14, 2017 9:52:55 AM Government Relations

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As the Trump Administration promises less regulation on businesses, states stand ready to fill any enforcement void left at the federal level. One of the big questions on everyone’s minds at the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In was, what can we expect to see in the next four years?

We were joined by moderator Amy Mudge, partner, Venable LLP, and speakers Greg Christiansen, managing partner, Guardian Law, LLC, Victoria Butler, director, Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Philip Ziperman, director, DC Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection to discuss examples of current issues where states are stepping in to pick up the slack.

If the recent settlement reached against Target for a data breach is any indication, Butler says we can expect to see more cases like these in the queue for state attorneys general. She also mentioned that seven new cases were filed in April 2017 alone regarding fake tech support pop-ups.

If your computer has ever been taken over by a fake tech support pop-up window that refuses to close, you’ll be glad to know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is making this a high priority. In May, they rolled out “Operation Tech Trap.” This is a nationwide and international crackdown on tech support scams that falsely lead consumers into believing their computers are infected with viruses. Consumers have been tricked into paying hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs by these scammers.

Ziperman says that the DC Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection covers consumer complaints and a wide variety of services including housing issues and debt collection. They’ve worked with federal agencies, taken part in multi-state litigation, and have returned $1.8 million to consumers in the District this year alone. This was due to California-based debt-collection company CashCall Inc., which used extremely high-interest loans to trap District borrowers illegally in debt.

Christiansen wrapped up our panel discussion by offering these best practices on how marketers can work effectively with the FTC and state attorneys general:

  • Personalize the corporation you work for
  • Call the state attorneys general office directly when you are contacted
  • Properly communicate with state attorneys general offices
  • Be sure to let them know you are willing to assist them in any way
  • Companies need to talk to state attorneys general and provide them with background information on the issue

Any other recent cases come to mind regarding data breaches, fake tech support pop-ups, or debt collection? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


 About the Author

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Bill McClellan serves as ERA's Vice President of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the association, Bill worked as a lobbyist at the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, covering the state legislature and Georgia's congressional delegation. Before working for the GADA, Bill managed political campaigns at both the congressional and state constitutional levels.

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