The Federal Trade Commission is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of its first regional offices, and the important role they play in protecting consumers and promoting competition through law enforcement, partnerships, and outreach to community and industry groups.
In June 1918, the FTC opened its first three regional offices in the Northeast Region (New York), Midwest Region (Chicago), and Western Region (San Francisco). Since that time, the FTC has opened additional regional offices in the Northwest Region (Seattle in 1925), East Central Region (Cleveland in 1954), Southeast Region (Atlanta in 1957), and Southwest Region (Dallas in 1972), as well as a second Western Region office (Los Angeles in 1961).
To celebrate this important milestone, the FTC is launching a revamped webpage for each regional office to provide information about cases involving the regional offices and upcoming regional events.
“The FTC’s regional offices play a key role in advancing our mission to protect consumers and promote competition,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said. “These offices bring groundbreaking cases and obtain significant relief for consumers. Beyond their many contributions to the FTC’s law enforcement work, they also engage in critical on-the-ground outreach and education in the communities they serve.”
Staff in the Commission’s regional offices work with the Bureaus of Consumer Protection and Competition to conduct investigations and litigation, provide advice to state and local officials on the competitive implications of proposed actions, recommend cases, provide local outreach services to consumers and industry, and coordinate activities with local, state, regional, and cross-border law enforcement authorities. The regional offices host events such as Common Ground conferences that bring together state and federal consumer protection officials, legal services attorneys, and other consumer advocates to discuss emerging trends and challenges facing consumers, and routinely meet with small businesses and other industry groups.
In addition, the regional offices have taken the lead on several major consumer protection law enforcement and education initiatives, including the Midwest Region and Southeast Region’s Operation Tech Trap targeting tech support scams, the East Central Region and Western Region’s Operation Main Street targeting scams against small businesses, and most recently, the Northwest Region’s Donate with Honor, a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent charities that conned consumers by falsely promising their donations would help veterans and servicemembers.
Other noteworthy cases include the Southeast Region’s case with the State of Florida against Helping America, an alleged phony debt relief operation that agreed to turn over approximately $35 million to return to consumers, the Southwest Region’s case challenging an allegedly deceptive money-making scheme involving cryptocurrencies, and the Western Region-Los Angeles’s $100 million settlement against DeVry University. As part of the settlement, the FTC provided refunds to tens of thousands of students allegedly deceived by DeVry about their likelihood of finding jobs in their field of study and the income level they could achieve upon graduation.
In addition to their work protecting consumers, the regional offices in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle are also integral to the FTC’s competition mission. For example, the Northeast Region successfully litigated the FTC’s challenge to the proposed $2.5 billion merger between Penn State Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System.
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