Notice of Criminal Offenses | Federal Trade Commission

Civil penalties can help the Commission deter behavior that harms consumers. Because they can exceed what a wrongdoer has earned through their misconduct, penalties send a clear message that it will not be profitable to prey on consumers.

One of the means by which the Commission can obtain sanctions against a company which has acted unfairly or deceptively is through the Penalty Offense Authority, which is found in Article 5(m )(1)(B) of the FTC, 15 USC §45(m)(1) (B). Under this authority, the Commission can seek civil penalties if it proves that (1) the company knew the conduct was unfair or deceptive in violation of FTC law and (2) the FTC had previously issued a written determination (see below) behavior is unfair or misleading.

In order to trigger this authority, the Commission may send companies a “Criminal Offenses Notice”. This notice is a document listing certain types of conduct that the Commission has determined, in one or more administrative orders (other than a consent order), to be unfair or deceptive in violation of FTC law. Companies that receive this notice and nevertheless engage in prohibited practices may face civil penalties of up to $46,517 per violation.

The fact that a company receives a notice does not indicate that the Commission has reason to believe that it is in violation of the law. On the contrary, the Commission sends these notices to ensure that companies understand the law – and that they are deterred from breaking it.

Copies of recently distributed notices and administrative decisions cited in the notices can be found at the links below.

Recent Reviews

Criminal offenses relating to money-making opportunities

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices used to entice participants into money-making opportunities are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to endorsements

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices in the use of endorsements and testimonials are deceptive or unfair and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to education

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices in the education market are deceptive or unfair and violate FTC law.

Older reviews

Criminal offenses relating to automobile rentals

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices regarding automobile rental are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to baits and switches

The FTC has issued a notice stating that it has determined that the bait and switch sales practices are unfair or deceptive business practices and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to energy savings

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices involving the advertising of home improvement materials or products are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to fur

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices regarding the labeling, billing, or advertising of furs or fur products are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to home improvement

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices regarding the advertising and sale of home improvement products are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to textiles

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices regarding textile fiber products are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to toys

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices regarding toy advertising and packaging are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Criminal offenses relating to weight loss

The FTC has issued a notice that it has determined that certain acts or practices regarding the promotion of weight control products and plans are unfair or deceptive and violate FTC law.

Aurora J. William