United States: Key Takeaways From The Consumer Protection Forum

Anthony E. DiResta and Kwamina Thomas Williford are Partners and Brian Goodrich is an Associate in our Washington, D.C. office.

Holland & Knight and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) hosted a half-day forum that featured government officials discussing hot-button issues in consumer protection regulation and enforcement. Speakers at the Oct. 6 event included Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection; Greg Nodler, Senior Counsel for Enforcement Policy and Strategy at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine.

Also, a panel discussion was held in which members of the business community voiced their reactions to the speakers' remarks. The speakers touched on a variety of topics, including privacy and data security; advertising, marketing and public relations practices; the represented agencies' law enforcement priorities; and current business practices that give government officials concern.

Guest Speaker Highlights

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection

Ms. Rich spoke about how the digital revolution has fundamentally altered how companies connect with consumers, as well as how the FTC works to protect consumers in the digital age. Among the key takeaways:

  • Disclosure is a top priority for the FTC. According to Ms. Rich, the line between advertising and objective content has become blurry in the digital age. Consumers have a right to know what messages are paid marketing as opposed to unsolicited endorsements. Thus, disclaimers need to be on all paid endorsements and reviews. Ms. Rich said another priority is ensuring that disclosures on all types of platforms are clear and conspicuous. Ms. Rich spoke about the FTC's efforts to ensure that principles of fair advertising and disclosure must extend to all advertising platforms. By way of example, she mentioned the new native advertising guidelines that the FTC will publish later this year.
  • The FTC will continue to be active in the area of data privacy in the coming year. Specifically, companies' use of consumer data has raised privacy concerns in the eyes of the FTC. Ms. Rich emphasized that companies should take active steps to protect consumer data.
  • Another top priority for the FTC is going after companies that engage in illegal robocalling practices.

Greg Nodler, CFPB Senior Counsel for Enforcement Policy and Strategy

Mr. Nodler spoke about how the CFPB evaluates targets for enforcement actions, and shared insight into its process of conducting enforcement actions. Takeaways from Mr. Nodler's speech include:

  • When considering whether or not to issue a civil investigation demand (CID), the CFPB office considers the number of victims, any temporary or long-lasting harm to consumers, and if the action targeted affects a "vulnerable" population, such as the elderly.
  • Companies looking to be in compliance with CFPB regulations should follow the guidance contained in the CFPB Responsible Conduct Bulletin.
  • Mr. Nodler had advice for companies under investigation. The CFPB looks favorably upon companies that take the bureau's CIDs seriously. Ways a company can demonstrate this include attending the meet and confer, having internal IT staff participate in the meet and confer to work out technical details with producing information, and being cooperative throughout the life of the investigation.

Karl Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia's first elected Attorney General, Mr. Racine emphasized that consumer protection is a priority for the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). He stressed the OAG's desire to work in a cooperative and consultative manner with companies doing business in D.C., but added that the OAG will vigorously and aggressively prosecute bad actors who violate consumer protection laws. Mr. Racine also brought his consumer protection team with him to walk through key areas of concern. His team included Public Advocacy Section Chief Bennett Rushkoff, Assistant Attorney General Jimmy Rock, Assistant Attorney General Richard Rodriguez, and Community Outreach Director Robert White. Takeaways from the team's presentation include:

  • Attorney General Racine stated that the OAG is working in partnership with the CFPB, FTC and FCC to coordinate enforcement priorities and actions.
  • Attorney General Racine encouraged companies to come in and explain their business to the OAG.
  • Top areas of current concern and focus for the OAG include debt collection, mortgage lending, privacy, as well as business engaged in the "sharing economy."
  • The OAG is investing heavily in community outreach. This includes responding to complaints filed by D.C. residents, as well as educating the district's consumers.

Panel Discussion

The final segment of the forum was a panel discussion featuring members of the business community reacting to the regulators' comments, as well as giving some of their current concerns with, and challenges presented by, the direction of consumer protection law. The panel included Ellie Boragine, Vice President and Chief Advertising Counsel, American Express; Devin Redmond, CEO, Nexgate; and Jess Sharp, Managing Director, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The panelists voiced frustration over the lack of clarity and guidance by government agencies as to how to comply with new regulations. While acknowledging the duty of the regulators to address consumer protection concerns in new industries and with respect to the proliferation of new technologies, the panelists critiqued the reactionary and often scattershot approaches by federal regulators. Such an approach, they said, creates moving targets that companies are challenged to account for in their compliance management systems. As an example, they pointed to some of the recent work of the CFPB – which they called the "new kid on the block" – in particular its new regulations aimed at auto lenders."

Upcoming Program: Navigating Consumer Protection Investigations

Consumer protection law enforcement inquiries and regulatory compliance should be a key concern given today's regulatory environment. Holland & Knight is committed to providing you with programs and events that provide you with timely information from senior governmental decision makers, as well as practical and strategic guidance. Our firm will host a webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 18, to discuss strategies used to succeed in a law enforcement investigation by the FTC, CFPB or a State Attorney General. Additional program information is available here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.