Donnelly L. McDowell

Donnelly L. McDowell

Donnelly McDowell is an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.

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Congressional Override Offers Industry Reprieve from CFPB Arbitration Rule but Battles Ahead Still Likely

Last week, the Senate voted 51 to 50 (with Vice President Pence casting the tiebreaking vote) to override the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Arbitration Rule, which was finalized earlier this year in July.  As previously discussed here and here, the Arbitration Rule would have prohibited providers of covered consumer financial products and services from using … Continue Reading

Trump To Nominate Competition-Focused Simons for FTC Chair, CP-Focused Chopra for Commissioner; Reports of Philips for Additional Seat

After months of speculation among the consumer protection and antitrust bars, Trump announced today his intention to nominate former Director of the Bureau of Competition and current Paul Weiss partner Joseph Simons as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.  Trump also announced his plan to nominate Rohit Chopra, currently a senior fellow at the Consumer … Continue Reading

Will the FTC’s Deception Evidence Fall Short? Court to Rule in DirecTV Case

U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. said Friday that the court would pause the trial to consider whether the FTC presented sufficient evidence to support its allegations that DirecTV misled consumers by failing to adequately disclose the terms of its two-year subscription and introductory pricing offer.  The judge instructed attorneys for DirecTV to file … Continue Reading

DirecTV and FTC Face Off in Federal Court Over Deceptive Pricing Claims; FTC Seeking $4 Billion in Equitable Relief

A bench trial began this week to resolve allegations by the FTC that DirecTV misled millions of consumers about the actual costs of its subscriptions.  According to the FTC, DirecTV should be required to pay $3.95 billion dollars to compensate consumers for failing to disclose that it would raise its monthly subscription price after a … Continue Reading

California Ruling Requires TransUnion to Pay Record $60M for FCRA Violations; Suit Alleged Consumer Reports Erroneously Linked Consumers to Criminals in OFAC Database

A California jury in federal court ruled on Tuesday, June 20, that TransUnion violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by erroneously linking certain consumers with similarly named terrorists and criminals in the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC’s) database.  The jury awarded statutory and punitive damages in excess of $60 million, … Continue Reading

NetSpend Settles FTC Charges, Resolving Allegations that it Deceived Consumers over Access to Prepaid Funds

Last week the FTC announced that it had reached a settlement with NetSpend over allegations that NetSpend deceived consumers by promising “immediate access” with “guaranteed approval” to money loaded on its general purpose reloadable cards.  Approved 2-1 with a vote by then-Commissioner Ramirez before her resignation, the order prohibits NetSpend from making misrepresentations about the … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Changes at the Helm of the Bureau of Consumer Protection; Thomas Pahl to Take Over as Acting Bureau Director Following Jessica Rich’s Departure

Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission Maureen Ohlhausen announced today that Thomas Pahl – a current partner at Arnall Golden Gregory with significant experience at both the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – will take over as Acting Director on February 17.  Jessica Rich will depart as Director of the Bureau of … Continue Reading

New FTC Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen Offers Insight into Consumer Protection Priorities

Just over one week after being named acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Maureen Ohlhausen delivered the keynote address at the American Bar Association’s biennial Consumer Protection Conference in Atlanta on February 2. During her remarks, acting chair Ohlhausen offered insight into consumer protection priorities during her tenure as acting chair. First, acting … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Settlement with Uber over Allegedly Deceptive Earnings Claims; Commissioner Ohlhausen Dissents

In its latest action involving allegedly deceptive earnings claims, the FTC announced yesterday that Uber had agreed to settle charges that it misled potential drivers with inflated earnings claims.  The complaint also alleges that Uber misrepresented benefits of its Vehicle Solutions Program, which connects potential drivers with auto companies to buy or lease a vehicle … Continue Reading

FTC Chairwoman Ramirez Announces Resignation Effective February 10

Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced today that she will resign her position effective February 10, leaving the Commission with three vacancies and just two remaining commissioners.  Chairwoman Ramirez has been a commissioner since April 5, 2010 and became Chairwoman on March 4, 2013. In announcing her resignation, she remarked: “It has been the … Continue Reading

Vemma Settles Ongoing Litigation with FTC over Pyramid Charges

The FTC announced today that it had settled charges with multi-level marketer and seller of health and wellness drinks Vemma over allegations that it operated a pyramid scheme.  The FTC initially filed the action in August 2015 in federal court in Arizona, alleging that Vemma encouraged participants to buy products to qualify for bonuses and … Continue Reading

FTC Chairwoman Ramirez Addresses Direct Sales Association; Offers Compliance Recommendations for Industry and Signals that Additional Guidance is on its Way

Last week, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez spoke at the Direct Sales Association (DSA) Business & Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.  In her comments, Chairwoman Ramirez acknowledged that the direct selling industry was a $36 billion industry that “has the capacity to provide consumers with valuable goods and services and an opportunity to try an entrepreneurial … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Rules that CFPB is Unconstitutionally Structured

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a landmark decision against the CFPB, finding that the agency was unconstitutionally structured because it concentrates “enormous executive power in a single, unaccountable, unchecked Director.”  However, the court stopped short of ordering a shutdown of the Bureau and instead held that the President … Continue Reading

CFPB Issues Final Rule to Regulate Prepaid Products; Prepaid Providers Given One Year to Comply

Yesterday the CFPB released a final rule that will impose a variety of consumer protection requirements on prepaid products, such as requiring specified disclosures before product purchase and compelling financial institutions to limit consumer losses for lost or stolen cards.  The CFPB had previously released a proposed rule, which we discussed here, and the final … Continue Reading

Senate Commerce Committee Members Air Laundry List of Pressing Issues Including Privacy, Data Security, and FTC Enforcement

On September 27th, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a general oversight hearing of the FTC, which covered a multitude of major policy issues and included testimony from Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny.  Chairman John Thune (R-SD) convened the hearing, joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) who … Continue Reading

“Follow the Lead” Recap: FTC Summarizes Takeaways from Workshop on Lead Generation

The FTC released last week a paper summarizing and reflecting on its October 30, 2015 public workshop, “Follow the Lead,” which we previously discussed here and focused on lead generation practices and related privacy and consumer protection issues.  The paper expands upon many of the same principles addressed at the workshop, including how lead generation … Continue Reading

Beyond “Clear and Conspicuous”: FTC Workshop Highlights Issues Related to Testing of Consumer Disclosures

On advertisements, websites, and legal documents, disclosures are everywhere.  But how do consumers notice, understand, and use disclosures in their decision-making?  And how can businesses and advertisers effectively design and evaluate disclosures?  These were questions that the Federal Trade Commission explored during its September 15 public workshop, “Putting Disclosures to the Test.”  Throughout the one-day … Continue Reading

CFPB Highlights Possible Approaches to Ramping up Regulation of Debt Collectors

The CFPB recently released an outline of proposals that it is currently considering to overhaul the debt collection market.  The proposals under consideration would significantly expand current regulations governing debt collection, including by requiring collectors to maintain specified information to substantiate a debt before contacting consumers, limiting the number of times that a collector can … Continue Reading

Agree to Disagree? CFPB Rule Would Prohibit Mandatory Arbitration Clauses, Require Submission of Arbitral Records

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a proposed rule last week that would prohibit providers of consumer financial products and services from using pre-dispute arbitration agreements to prevent consumers from filing a class action.  In its press release announcing the proposed rule, the CFPB used strong language to condemn mandatory arbitration provisions as permitting “companies … Continue Reading

CFPB, “Please”: Judge Rebuffs CFPB’s Attempt to Compel Documents Regarding For-Profit College Accreditation

Last Thursday, a federal district court judge in D.C. denied the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) attempt to compel documents from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).  Rejecting the CFPB’s motion to enforce the Civil Investigative Demand (CID) against ACICS, the court held that “the CFPB lacks authority to investigate the process … Continue Reading

CFPB Obtains $13M FCRA Settlement with Employee Background Screening Providers

The CFPB recently initiated an enforcement action against General Information Services (GIS) and its affiliate, e-Background-checks.com, Inc. (BGC) for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to implement required safeguards while providing background screening reports to employers about job applicants. The CFPB found that certain background screening reports provided by GIS and … Continue Reading

CFPB Proposes Rule on Prepaid Products to Extend Certain Credit Requirements and Mandate Disclosures

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released last week a proposed rule that would impose an array of new requirements on prepaid accounts. The proposed new definition of “prepaid account” would include general purpose reloadable cards, electronic or mobile accounts that can store funds such as PayPal accounts, payroll cards, and certain government benefit cards, but … Continue Reading

CFPB Proposes Rule on Prepaid Products to Extend Certain Credit Requirements and Mandate Disclosures

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released last week a proposed rule that would impose an array of new requirements on prepaid accounts. The proposed new definition of “prepaid account” would include general purpose reloadable cards, electronic or mobile accounts that can store funds such as PayPal accounts, payroll cards, and certain government benefit cards, but … Continue Reading

CFPB to Collect Information on Mobile Financial Services; Cites Customer Service and Privacy Issues as Areas of Concern

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced today that it would launch an inquiry “into the opportunities and challenges associated with the use of mobile financial services.” The official notice, which will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, seeks information about how consumers are using mobile financial services to access products and services, manage … Continue Reading
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