FTC (Federal Trade Commission) definition

Contributor(s): Ben Cole

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is a United States federal regulatory agency designed to monitor and prevent anti-competitive, deceptive or unfair business practices. 

The FTC consists of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, the Bureau of Competition and the Bureau of Economics. Their work is aided by the Office of General Counsel and seven regional offices. The FTC's actions include pursuing enforcement against unlawful business practices; sharing expertise with both U.S. and international government agencies; developing policy and research tools through hearings, workshops and conferences; and creating educational programs to share best practices with consumers and businesses.

The FTC was created in 1914 to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce. Since the FTC's inception, Congress has passed additional laws that give the agency greater authority to police anticompetitive business practices. In 1938, Congress passed a prohibition against "unfair and deceptive acts or practices," and since then, the FTC has been directed to administer consumer protection laws. In 1975, Congress gave the FTC the authority to adopt industry-wide trade regulation rules. The FTC is also charged with enhancing informed consumer choice and public understanding of business competition processes, and to do so without creating an undue compliance burden on legitimate business activities.

This was first published in March 2013

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