AGs coalition seeks greater collaboration with FTC to battle fraudsters

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CONCORD - The state's Attorney Generals of co-leading a coalition of State Attorneys General in providing comments to the Federal Trade Commission as part of a bipartisan effort to improve collaboration between the FTC and State Attorneys General in battling fraud. The comments were jointly authored by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, and Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti.

"The Federal Trade Commission has long been a crucial federal partner in helping us to carry out our shared mission of protecting consumers and ensuring fairness in the marketplace," said Formella. "We and our fellow State Attorneys General welcome this opportunity to provide feedback in hopes of strengthening our valued relationship with the FTC."

The comments come in response to a request from the FTC as part of the FTC Collaboration Act of 2021. The Act directs the FTC to solicit comments and advice relating to "efforts with State Attorneys General to prevent, publicize, and penalize frauds and scams perpetrated on individuals in the United States."

As the Attorneys General note in their comments, the States, the FTC, and other federal partners have worked in concert for decades to benefit businesses and individual consumers. The FTC and individual states routinely partner to educate consumers about avoiding common scams. The Attorneys General suggest that when this information is needed to be delivered on a national scale, working together is, "the best way to protect consumers."

They also comment that States benefit significantly from the FTC's expertise, resources, as well as its national reach, which facilitates cross-border enforcement. Additionally, they write that collaboration has allowed the FTC to take advantage of the broader array of remedies available under State consumer protection laws and that it has given the FTC access to State investigative resources, witnesses, and expertise.

In their comments the Attorneys General further note that the Supreme Court's AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission decision has been negatively impacting effective collaboration between the States and the FTC. Specifically, the Attorneys General's view is that the AMG decision's limiting the FTC's authority risks depriving victims of restitution in certain cases.

"The FTC has maintained an Office of Claims and Refunds that does the work of locating consumers who are owed a refund/restitution and getting the consumers their money. This is work that must be done in any matter involving consumer restitution, but many state attorneys general do not have the capacity to do this work and, therefore, must hire third-party settlement administrators," write the Attorneys General. "The potential loss of the FTC as a resource to do the work of delivering restitution to harmed consumers is a potentially significant loss to the states and to the collaboration between the states and the FTC."

The FTC will use the comments to prepare a report to Congress recommending best practices to enhance collaboration between the FTC and State Attorneys General; quantifiable metrics to assess such enhanced collaboration; and any legislative initiatives needed to promote such collaboration.

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