Podcast - Consumer Protection: Ignorance Is Not Bliss
In the first episode of his "Clearly Conspicuous" podcast series, "Consumer Protection: Ignorance Is Not Bliss," consumer protection attorney Anthony DiResta introduces himself and previews what listeners can expect from future episodes. Mr. DiResta, who co-chairs Holland & Knight's Consumer Protection Defense and Compliance Team, provides a brief summary of his law practice as well as a general overview of consumer protection and why you should be concerned about it.
I'd like to welcome you to our inaugural program of Clearly Conspicuous, a podcast designed to make you succeed in this current regulatory and governmental environment that's very aggressive and progressive. We also want to make you aware of what's going on with the federal and state consumer protection agencies and, most importantly, give you practical tips for success.
I'd like to start by sharing with you my background. I've been in law practice for a couple of decades, both in the government and private practice, where I represent companies and individuals from Fortune 100 companies to start ups, and executives in both civil and criminal matters. I'm a former director at the Federal Trade Commission, where I supervised and managed all the investigations in seven states in regulatory and consumer protection matters, and our office was awarded by the U.S. Attorney General for its enforcement achievements. I was also appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney. Since leaving the Commission, I have defended companies and executives in over 75 formal investigations by the federal and state government, and I've had the good fortune to close a good number of investigations without any publicity, fines or requirements to change business practices. I'll just say over the years I've been very lucky to have good clients and good facts.
What Is Consumer Protection?
It's a privilege to be with you here today, and I hope your 2023 is off to a great start. Today's topic is, why you should be concerned about consumer protection: Ignorance is not bliss. Let me start with the threshold question, "what is consumer protection?" It involves substantive issues of regulations, rules and laws concerning "consumer protection," which includes:
- social media advertising
- consumer contracts and transactions
- marketing practices
- compliance policies and procedures
- unfair, deceptive and abusive business acts and practices
- laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Truth in Lending Act
By me saying that, I hope you get a sense of the wide scope of consumer protection. Importantly, every single industry segment in our economy is included. No exceptions. Consumer contracts and online transactions are a focus, and the real targets of federal consumer protection agencies are financial services, health products/service, as well as issues involving public policy. Compliance with the laws and regulations of these agencies are critical to your success. Let me say that again, complying with the laws and regulations of these agencies are critical to your success. You must have policies and procedures in place to ensure that these regulations and laws are being followed. You must also have effective training and disciplining of employees to be sure that those policies and procedures are being implemented properly, and you need to be sure that those policies and procedures as well as the steps you're taking to implement those policies are effective. Thus, active monitoring and auditing are essential. It's a three-step process for compliance. What all companies and executives need to confront is the reality that the federal and state governments can investigate you, regardless of your size, and they can charge individuals as well as companies in public announcements and lawsuits. They can get fines, requirements to change your business practices, and put you under the microscope for years.
In conclusion, stay tuned to further programs as we peel the onion, confront the key issues and developments and identify strategies for success. I wish you continued success and a meaningful day and look forward to speaking with you at another time.