While seventeen new state attorneys general are now sworn in and getting settled into their offices across the country, consumer protection continues to be the top of their agenda. Enforcement continues to take shape in different forms including individual actions, multistate investigations, and partnering with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This year we expect states to target particularly salient issues such as dark patterns, autorenewal concerns, and/or data security and privacy, but those priorities will continue to evolve through discussions at the forums of their main national organizations.
For our first State AG webinar of the year, we dove into consumer protection in the Tennessee attorney general office with our guests, Chief Deputy Lacey Mase and Executive Counsel Jeff Hill. If you missed it, we’ve recapped what we learned.
Background of the Office
Unlike other states, Tennessee is the only state where the AG is appointed by the state Supreme Court, with the AG serving for an eight year term. Qualified attorneys submit applications to the Supreme Court and are interviewed publicly before being selected to serve as AG.
Within the AG’s office, the Consumer Protection Division handles both consumer protection and antitrust work. The AG’s consumer protection priorities are constantly shifting in order to respond to consumer needs. The office evaluates whether resources should be allocated to large scale litigation needs such as multistate actions or whether there are smaller consumer concerns that need to be addressed within the state.
The Consumer Protection Division now houses the Division of Consumer Affairs which serves as the point of contact for consumer complaints about unfair or deceptive acts conducted within the state (until a few years ago, the Division was a separate agency). Tennessee does provide complaint mediation for consumers, where the office will routinely ask businesses for a response.