Consumer Protection Branch Practice Areas
Learn more about our areas of practice below.
- Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices
- Food and Dietary Supplements
- Complex Consumer Fraud
- Deceptive Practices, Telemarketing, and Data Privacy
- U.S. Servicemembers and Veterans Fraud
- Consumer Product Safety and Tampering
- Tobacco Product Litigation
- Class Action Fairness Act Litigation
The Consumer Protection Branch investigates and litigates a wide range of criminal and civil violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Controlled Substances Act. A leading component of the Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force, the Branch is especially committed to combating the nation’s opioid crisis, advancing matters to address wrongdoing up and down the prescription opioid supply chain. The Branch also leads and monitors all Department investigations of legitimate drug and device manufacturers selling adulterated and misbranded products, as well as fraudsters selling fake cures or counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The Branch works closely in this area with the FDA, DEA, and FBI.
The Consumer Protection Branch brings and monitors enforcement actions against food and dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient importers that pose a safety risk to consumers. Recent actions include significant prosecutions of companies and executives responsible for knowingly distributing dangerously tainted food and selling products made with undisclosed illicit ingredients smuggled into the United States. The Branch also regularly pursues civil injunctive actions against food and dietary supplement manufacturers to halt and remedy Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act violations.
With vast experience in tackling multi-district and transnational fraud schemes that bilk millions of Americans out of billions of dollars each year, the Branch is a Department leader in investigating and prosecuting consumer frauds. The Branch devotes particular attention to stopping scams that disproportionately target or affect older Americans and other vulnerable populations. Working with the Postal Inspection Service, FBI, Federal Trade Commission, and FinCEN, among others, and utilizing state-of-the-art analytics and investigative approaches, the Branch directs enforcement initiatives and uses all available tools to do justice for victims and prevent other consumers from becoming victims. Much of the Branch’s work advances through its Elder Fraud Initiative, including through its leadership of the Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force. Branch personnel also serve on the Department’s Consumer Protection Working Group and co-chair the International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group.
Through litigation under a variety of laws and regulations, including those administered by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Protection Branch combats a wide range of deceptive trade practices, including those affecting consumers’ identity integrity. The Branch also is a specialist in combating telemarketing violations, pursuing litigation, advising U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and participating in the Department’s Executive Working Group on Telemarketing Violations.
The Consumer Protection Branch is the primary criminal enforcement component of the Department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative. Working with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and FBI, the Branch investigates reported frauds and tracks evidence to uncover other schemes, seeking to ensure that the brave men and women who protect America are themselves protected from fraud and identity theft.
The Branch is charged with enforcing the Consumer Product Safety Act, which protects the public from dangerous products and hazardous materials. The Branch specifically brings criminal prosecutions and civil-penalty actions for failures to report defective or otherwise unreasonably hazardous products. In addition, the Branch is responsible for advancing and coordinating criminal prosecutions of significant odometer-tampering schemes, in which perpetrators fraudulently inflate vehicles’ market values and conceal potentially unsafe vehicles. Agents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are key partners in this work.
The Consumer Protection Branch is responsible for litigating, and enforcing the secured relief from, the United States’ racketeering case against cigarette manufacturers for deceiving the public about smoking’s addictiveness and health risks. The Branch also enforces the ban on advertising cigarettes or smokeless tobacco on television and radio, and it is active in addressing new enforcement issues posed by e-cigarettes.
Fulfilling the Department’s duty to ensure that class action settlements are fair and appropriate under the terms of the Class Action Fairness Act, the Branch monitors notices of significant settlements and takes action to discourage settlements that reward attorneys while offering allegedly harmed consumers little or nothing of value.