Student Question

In the SAGE Brief Guide to Marketing Ethics, in the section “Public Policy Issues,” found on page 35, the author states that sometimes unregulated competition leads to unintended, negative consequences upon the public. Sometimes it is necessary for government to intervene and regulate certain aspects of competitive action in order to protect the vulnerable.

A small part of the mission of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is to prevent business practices that are unfair to consumers. What is the overall purpose of the FTC?

What is the purpose of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP)?

What are the different divisions within the BCP?

How does a consumer file a complaint about advertising practices of a company to the FTC?

What is any rule of advertising?

Expert Answers

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The purpose of the FTC, according to their website, is to "protect consumers and promote competition." The Bureau of Consumer Protection enforces Congressional and FTC rules about competition to protect consumers against fraud committed both by individual companies and by entire industries.

Here are the seven divisions of the BCP and what they do (you can read more on the website links of each division):

  • Division of Privacy and Identity Protection: protects consumers against identify theft and infringements on their privacy.
  • Division of Advertising Practices: protects consumers against fraudulent advertising. 
  • Division of Consumer & Business Education: helps educate consumers to make wise choices. 
  • Division of Enforcement: oversees litigation to enforce FTC laws. 
  • Division of Marketing Practices: helps protect consumers against fraud in the marketplace, including scams.
  • Division of Consumer Response & Operations: analyzes data to enforce FTC legislation and educational efforts. 
  • Division of Financial Practices: protects consumers against fraud and unfair practices related to finances, including debt collection, credit cards, pay day loans, and other practices.
  • Division of Litigation Technology & Analysis: helps litigate consumer protection efforts. 

To file a consumer complaint, you can follow the specific steps on the homepage. For example, for an identify theft, you must call the companies that were defrauded by someone stealing your identity, and put a fraud alert on your credit card. Then, you should file an identity complaint with the FTC by going to, letting the FTC know what happened, and working with them to come up with a recovery plan. Also, you should report the theft to your local police. One rule related to advertising for small businesses, for example, is that advertising must be truthful (see the link below).

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