Consumer protection laws and regulations impact every dimension of business – from advertising and marketing practices, to privacy and data security, to billing and collection issues, to customer service. Aggressive federal and state agencies are getting the attention of senior executives who are concerned about risk management, compliance challenges and high-profile governmental inquiries.
Companies are increasingly looking to one law firm to handle an interdisciplinary approach that involves:
- defending companies and individuals in governmental investigations brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and state attorneys general
- defending companies and individuals in consumer class action litigation, representing companies presented with disputes concerning deceptive, unfair or abusive business practices or unfair competition, and defending companies in litigation against the government
- counseling companies facing regulatory compliance and risk management challenges.
Holland & Knight's Consumer Protection Defense and Compliance Team has the experience, knowledge, relationships and platform to effectively work with our clients to address these issues.
Holland & Knight represents clients on a full range of consumer protection challenges, offering an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. We have a "one firm" culture with seamless coordination that is designed to put together the most effective and efficient team to solve our client's problems. The firm's seasoned professionals are committed to anticipate the risk management challenges our clients confront, develop appropriate compliance management systems, and advocate before the regulatory bodies and courts with the touch that is developed from having former roles in government agencies and credible reputations before decision-makers.
Our clients include leading brands in nearly every industry sector, including financial services, media, healthcare, hospitality and timeshare, consumer products, food and beverage, social networks and technology. This diversity and experience enable us to spot and address unique issues facing organizations involved in challenges before regulatory bodies and courts.
Federal Trade Commission and State Attorneys General Investigations
We have the experience to provide strategic and prudent representation on a host of consumer protection issues regulated by the FTC in all industry sectors, including:
- advertising (such as claim substantiation, endorsements and testimonials, online disclosures, social media and digital advertising, commercial emails, infomercials, pricing, and guarantees and warranties)
- marketing practices
- privacy/data security
- consumer credit (including credit reporting, credit billing, truth-in-lending and Fair Credit Reporting Act)
- debt collection
Regulatory pressures do not, however, stop at the federal level. Each state, through its attorney general or department of consumer affairs, enforces unfair trade practice laws through so-called "Little FTC Acts," allowing an attorney general or appropriate state official to investigate, initiate lawsuits or proceedings, or enter into settlements, consent decrees or assurances of voluntary compliance. We have seen a significant rise in these investigations in the past several years, especially involving social and digital media advertising, financial services and products, privacy/data security and healthcare claims.
We have a strong record of success in defending a large number of clients in every industry sector in FTC and state attorney general investigations – with many of the investigations we have defended being closed in "bet the company" situations – saving our clients from significant financial loss, changes to their core business operations and public scrutiny.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandates fundamental changes to the country's financial regulatory system that has profound ripple effects across many industry sectors. The Dodd-Frank Act established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which places all companies providing consumer financial services and products under federal supervision and control – with expansive investigatory and examination powers. The companies impacted by the CFPB are wide ranging and include banks, credit card issuers, debt collectors, mortgage servicers and originators, student lenders, debt buyers, credit bureaus, small dollar and payday lenders, auto lenders and other nonbank financial services companies.
Since the CFPB's launch in July 2011, Holland & Knight attorneys have successfully represented dozens of clients in connection with CFPB regulatory matters, including audits, supervisory examinations and law enforcement investigations – with some investigations being closed with no publicity, fines or mandated corrective action required.
Class actions can present a significant threat to a company's survival and reputation. Losing can mean tens of millions of dollars and injunctions that can alter, if not cripple, business operations. Holland & Knight is the firm for clients who seek effective protection against these threats. We defend clients in consumer class actions throughout the country, deploying an experienced and interdisciplinary team that has been recognized for creative and vigorous defense strategies.
In addition, the firm has represented clients in defending consumer class actions as well as presenting and defending claims of false and misleading advertising, deceptive marketing practices and unfair competition. We have also defended companies in litigation against the government as well as litigation that ran parallel to or resulted from governmental investigations.
Compliance and Risk Management
There is virtually no aspect of business that is not touched by governmental regulation. With the federal government embarking on new regulatory initiatives, businesses in today's environment face increasingly daunting regulatory challenges – with ominous consequences for noncompliance.
Holland & Knight has extensive experience assessing clients' operational risks from a regulator's viewpoint. Our goal is to establish and implement effective compliance and ethics program structures that meet our clients' legal obligations, empower our clients' workforce through training, allow management to better understand and avoid potential regulatory and enforcement risks, and provide a mechanism through which companies can respond to regulatory and compliance issues.
Holland & Knight has worked with companies subject to the CFPB and other agencies to develop effective compliance management systems, creating policies and procedures designed to withstand regulatory scrutiny. The firm also counsels on risk assessment and risk management matters, including developing policies and procedures concerning unfair, deceptive, abusive acts and practices (defined as UDAAP by several agencies) and other consumer financial protection regulations.
Holland & Knight's Institute for Consumer Protection Defense and Compliance
It takes experience and deep knowledge to navigate the complex regulatory sphere that is consumer protection. Not only are Holland & Knight attorneys well-versed and up-to-date on all developments within the field, but Holland & Knight attorneys are innovative thought-leaders in the field.
The Holland & Knight Institute for Consumer Protection Defense and Compliance is a resource library maintained and updated by Holland & Knight attorneys. The Institute serves as a resource for clients as well as a platform to shape the public discourse in the field.
The Institute includes:
- a library of presentations and speeches given by Holland & Knight attorneys explaining core consumer protection concepts and the "nuts and bolts" of investigations
- videos of past webinars relating to consumer protection issues
- links to key government resources and remarks made by federal officials
- a summary of Holland & Knight's experience and the past outcomes our attorneys have achieved for our clients
For general counsels and in-house regulatory compliance attorneys, the resources of the Institute can help inform your decisions with respect to risk management, compliance practices and government inquiries.
View the Holland & Knight's Institute for Consumer Protection Defense and Compliance resource page, and visit often to stay up-to-date on news, government press releases, events and articles.