As discussed in previous articles, the FTC collects complaints about organizations that allegedly violate the data privacy, data security, advertising, and marketing laws.

Each month the FTC creates a “Top Violators” report that ranks the fifty organizations with the greatest volume of consumer complaints. The report indicates whether each organization listed was included in the previous month’s report, whether its rank has changed, and the number of complaints received by the FTC that month. For organizations that are new to the report, the FTC reviews their complaints and summarizes the issue, or issues, that have been raised by consumers. The following provides a snapshot of information concerning the Top Violators Report.

78%

Percentage of the top 20 companies on the FTC’s Top Violators Reports that have had a public FTC investigation concerning their advertising, marketing, data privacy, or data security practices.1

93.8%

Percentage of FTC enforcement actions that target a company found in the FTC’s complaint database.2

394 – 2,795

Quantity of complaints filed per month against the top 50 companies tracked.3

Understanding the implications of the Top Violator Report to your organization:

  1. Is your organization identified on the current Top Violators Report?
  2. Has your organization ever been identified on a Top Violators Report?
  3. If you are not listed on the Top Violator’s Report, how close is your organization’s complaint volume to those organizations that are on the list?
  4. Are competitors in your industry identified on the Top Violators Report?
  5. If so, if the FTC initiated an investigation of your competitor what impact would that have on your organization?
  6. Are companies which provide service to your organization on the Top Violators Report?
  7. If so, do the complaints filed against the competing organization suggest legal compliance issues which may put your organization at risk?
  8. Are clients of your organization on the Top Violators Report?
  9. If so, if a FTC investigation were to be initiated against your client, could it have a negative impact on your organization?
  10. Do you have a system in place to quickly identify any pertinent changes to the Top Violator Report?

1. Based upon a review of the top 20 violators from complaints volume between 1/1/2009 – 12/12/2014, excluding companies not subject to FTC jurisdiction and complaints that do not relate to corporate behavior (e.g., imposter or spoofing).

2. FTC, Fiscal Year 2015 Performance Report and Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016, p. 51, https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/fy-2016-2017-performance-plan-fy-2015-performance-report/pprfy16-17_0.pdf

3. FTC, Top Companies Receiving Complaints in Consumer Sentinel (Aug. 1, 2016 – Aug. 31, 2016) (excludes complaints relating to scams connected to impersonating the government).