FTC Staff Provides Annual Letter to CFPB On Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Activities

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has provided the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with an annual summary of the FTC’s activities enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The FTC shares enforcement responsibility for the FDCPA with the CFPB, which provides an annual report to Congress about debt collection enforcement activities. The annual report, which was released today, highlights both agencies’ efforts to stop unlawful debt collection practices, including law enforcement, education and public outreach, and policy initiatives. Among the actions taken to combat unfair, deceptive, and otherwise unlawful debt collection practices in 2019, the FTC:

  • filed or resolved law enforcement actions against 25 defendants, and obtained more than $24.7 million in judgments;
  • banned 23 companies and individuals who engaged in serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again;
  • announced the return of $516,000 to 3,977 consumers who lost money to an unlawful debt collection operation previously stopped by the FTC;
  • deployed educational materials to inform consumers about their rights, and educate debt collectors about their responsibilities, under the FDCPA and FTC Act;
  • supplied more than 27,500 copies of a fotonovela (graphic novel) on debt collection, developed for Spanish speakers, to raise awareness about scams targeting the Latino community;
  • organized and cosponsored Common Ground conferences, bringing together law enforcement personnel, consumer advocates, and community members to discuss consumer protection issues, including debt collection; and
  • hosted public forums on small business financing and credit reporting, which raised debt collection policy issues.

The letter also highlights FTC staff’s submission of a public comment on the CFPB’s proposed rules implementing the FDCPA. The comment provided an overview of the Commission’s law enforcement, policy, and education efforts to protect consumers from unlawful debt collection practices, and provided FTC staff feedback on several components of the proposed rules.

U.S. Funding for the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

Today, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump announced a new partnership in support of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP). The partnership between the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) will expand the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).

AWE was created in 2019 and launched in 26 countries around the world to support W-GDP, which aims to economically empower 50 million women in the developing world by 2025.

“W-GDP is the first ever whole-of-government approach to women’s economic empowerment, developed intentionally to inspire collaboration on best programs and partnerships,” said Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. “I am proud to see the State Department and U.S. Africa Development Foundation partner together to expand the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in support of W-GDP. W-GDP is focused on scaling programs that will have maximum impact for women and communities around the world.”

In 2020, to help achieve W-GDP’s goals, ECA is expanding AWE globally, doubling the number of countries to reach more women, and partnering with USADF in Africa on this important effort.

This new U.S. government interagency partnership will provide select AWE graduates in Africa with seed funding to start and scale their enterprises. Beginning this year, through 2025, USADF will provide up to $10 million in grants to the most promising African AWE graduates. In 2020, funding will be awarded to AWE graduates from the following countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

USADF believes Africa’s growth and prosperity will be driven by women. In 2019, women social entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises constituted approximately 66% of USADF’s total investees. USADF is partnering with the State Department on AWE to promote African women’s entrepreneurship and increase their access to capital, markets, technical assistance, and mentorship.

AWE supports Pillar 2 of W-GDP by providing women with the knowledge, skills, and networks needed to create sustainable businesses and enterprises. Through an inclusive learning community and mentoring opportunities, women from around the world will explore the fundamentals of business, including creating business plans and raising capital, with the goal of building a better future for their families and communities across Africa and around the world.

Secretary Mnuchin to Attend G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced that Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin will travel to Saudi Arabia to attend the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Riyadh from February 22-23, 2020.

“This trip will focus on advancing the Trump Administration’s economic agenda and working with international partners to address key economic and security issues to strengthen global growth,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “Meetings at the G20 provide an opportunity to continue productive engagement on a range of important issues, including international taxation, debt transparency and sustainability, digital assets, and efforts to combat terrorist financing.”

In Riyadh, Secretary Mnuchin will participate in the official G20 program and meet with his international counterparts, including with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Following the G20 meetings, Secretary Mnuchin will visit Abu Dhabi and Doha, where he will participate in bilateral meetings focused specifically on countering the financing of terrorist activities.

NOTE: Details are subject to change. Further information regarding the Secretary’s schedule will be made available in the days ahead. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Public Engagement Schedule.

Department of Commerce Renews Temporary General License for 45 Days

Today, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it was extending a Temporary General License (TGL) for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List for an additional 45 days.  The TGL was implemented as a measure to prevent interruption of existing network communication systems in rural U.S. regions and permit global network security measures.  The TGL is intended to allow time for companies and persons to shift to alternative sources of equipment, software and technology (i.e., those not produced by Huawei or one of its listed affiliates).  

The 45-day extension is necessary to allow existing telecommunication providers—particularly those in rural U.S. communities—the ability to continue to temporarily and securely operate existing networks while they identify alternatives to Huawei for future operation.  American technology should not be acquired by Huawei and its foreign affiliates and used in a manner that undermines U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.  During the next 45 days, the Department intends to determine the need for any future extensions of the TGL. 

The TGL amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to authorize specific, limited engagement in transactions involving the export, reexport, and transfer of items subject to the EAR to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List until April 1, 2020.  

Huawei was added to the Entity List after the U.S. government concluded the company poses a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States, including, by engaging, among other things, in alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, among other illicit activities, including charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering activities announced by the Department of Justice today.

The Bureau of Industry and Security’s mission is to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership. BIS is committed to preventing U.S.-origin items from supporting Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) projects, terrorism, or destabilizing military modernization programs. 

Statement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Q4 and Annual 2019 GDP: Economy Grows 2.3% in 2019

Today, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the fourth quarter and annual gross domestic product (GDP) numbers. The Bureau found that the real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.3 percent for all of 2019, continuing to beat expectations.

“Since the beginning of this Administration, critics have predicted doom and gloom for the American economy,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. President Trump continues to unleash incredible growth in the American economy despite the effects of Boeing’s problems with the 737 MAX and the General Motors’ strike. GDP for 2019 is more great news for the American economy and is even better than what today’s numbers show due to those two special factors. Beyond this, Americans continue to experience tremendous increases in employment and wages that prime 2020 for further economic gains. When you add in the benefits of USMCA, the Phase One Deal with China, the two trade deals with Japan, and the re-working of the free trade agreement with South Korea, America is back and competing on the world stage.”

The GDP continues to beat performance predictions before the 2016 election, and there was other good news in the BEA report:

  • The U.S. has the largest GDP of any country in the world, and it continues to grow at a sustained rate. U.S. GDP reached an all-time high in 2019 of $21.43 trillion.
  • The growth of the goods GDP rose by an impressive 4.7 percent, while services was at 1.7 percent.
  • Consumer spending increased by 2.6 percent last year and spending on durable goods surged by 4.7 percent in 2019.
  • Personal income reached an all-time high of $18.6 trillion, up from $17.8 trillion in 2018.
  • The personal savings rate increased to 8 percent for the year, with Americans saving $1.31 trillion in 2019, up from $1.21 trillion in 2018.
  • The long period of massive import surges of goods is finally abating. For the year, imports of goods rose by only 0.2 percent, the lowest yearly increase since 2009.

BEA Reports 17 of 22 Industry Groups Contributed to the 2.1 Percent Increase in Real GDP in 3rd Quarter.

Nondurable goods manufacturing; retail trade; and professional, scientific, and technical services were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the third quarter of 2019, according to gross domestic product (GDP) by industry statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Both private services- and goods-producing industries contributed to the increase; the government sector increased slightly. Overall, 17 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 2.1 percent increase in real GDP in the third quarter.

Nondurable goods manufacturing increased 10.1 percent in the third quarter, after decreasing 0.3 percent in the second quarter.
Retail trade increased 8.2 percent, after increasing 0.2 percent.
Professional, scientific, and technical services increased 5.6 percent, after increasing 7.4 percent.
“In the 3rd quarter of last year, retail and wholesale trade fueled the continuing economic resurgence. With growth in 17 of 22 sectors, American Industry continues to thrive thanks to the pro-growth policies of the Trump Administration,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.