The Federal Trade Commission reported this week on the refunds returned to harmed consumers in 2022 from its cases against bad actors that cheated, deceived, defrauded people out of their money. The agency’s press release also contained a sober message: refunds to consumers are dropping due to AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC, a 2021 decision where the Supreme Court eliminated the FTC’s authority to seek refunds for consumers under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act.
The FTC returned $392 million to consumers in 2022, but “more than 90% of the $392 million returned to consumers came from cases resolved before” the AMG decision, the agency said.
Meanwhile, potential refunds in cases where there were millions of dollars in consumer harm have already been lost as a result of AMG.
For decades, the FTC’s Section 13(b) authority was a highly effective enforcement tool for the FTC. It would file cases and request court orders to stop misconduct and require full redress for deceived and defrauded consumers in each case. In the four years preceding the dreaded decision, the agency returned more than $11 billion to consumers using 13(b).
What does the future hold for this agency’s effectiveness to protect consumers if its primary avenue of returning refunds and providing redress is not restored?