The Federal Trade Commission has run out of money and must suspend all of its investigations, including those into egregious debt collection activities, according to a published report.
Virtually all of the agency’s consumer protection initiatives, including staffing hotlines, not responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, not publishing reports, as well as all of the agency’s legal work, will be suspended until the shutdown is over, according to the report.
While the thrust of the article references the FTC’s ongoing investigation into Facebook, the article does include some interesting tidbits that would also likely apply to any ongoing investigations into debt collectors or collection agencies.
Attorneys and investigators must spend up to a week winding down whatever work they had on their desks before leaving the office, and once the shutdown is over, it will take about another week to get everything back up and running again. That time equates to an “enormous cost” for the federal government, according to a former director of the FTC’s consumer protection division.
That downtime begs the question whether the FTC will decide not to resume certain investigations if the shutdown is a prolonged one. Could investigations that seem important now become less so if left dormant for a prolonged period of time? And what of new scams that are being uncovered now? How will those be prioritized or even acknowledged once the FTC is back up and running again?
A lot of questions and likely not many answers.