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This Article calls on Congress and the state legislatures to grant large cities and counties standing to enforce the Federal Trade Commission Act (the FTC Act) and its state statutory counterparts (or little Acts). The FTC Act, a federal law, prohibits businesses from engaging in any "unlawful," "unfair," or "deceptive" acts or practices, and the little Acts apply similarly broad prohibitions in all fifty states. This fifty-one-statute consumer protection regime - which has been the law of the land for several decades - carries enormous promise to halt a wide range of unlawful and harmful corporate practices in their earliest stages. Unfortunately, that promise has not been fulfilled because these laws are chronically under-enforced. At present, only one federal agency-the Federal Trade Commission-has broad standing to enforce the FTC Act; while state Attorneys General and consumers typically have standing to enforce the little Acts, they cannot keep up with the rate of corporate malfeasance. This Article argues that the nation's legislatures should invite cities and counties with populations over 50,000 into consumer protection enforcement by granting them standing to seek injunctive relief and penalties under the FTC Act and little Acts. It addresses the practical benefits and barriers to disaggregating consumer protection enforcement in this way and discusses the attendant localism and federalism concerns.


Originally published by the Fordham Urban Law Journal.