The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works to ensure that the nation’s markets are efficient and free of practices which might harm consumers. To ensure the smooth operation of our free market system, the FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices. The Commission also enforces federal antitrust laws that prohibit anticompetitive mergers and other business practices that restrict competition and harm consumers.
The FTC was created in 1914 to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce. In 1938, Congress passed the Wheeler-Lea Amendment, which included a broad prohibition against “unfair and deceptive acts or practices.” After that, the FTC was directed to administer a wide variety of other consumer protection laws, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Pay-Per-Call Rule and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. In 1975, Congress passed the Magnuson-Moss Act which gave the FTC the authority to adopt trade regulation rules which define unfair or deceptive acts in particular industries. Trade regulation rules have the force of law.
Today, the FTC is an independent agency which reports directly to Congress. The commission is headed by five commissioners, nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, each serving a seven-year term. The president chooses one commissioner to act as chairman. No more than three commissioners can be of the same political party. The commission is further divided into bureaus and divisions, which are responsible for various aspects of FTC operations.