If an FTC investigation reveals violations of laws or regulations, the FTC has the power to bring an enforcement action, either in federal court or as an administrative action. Under Section 3 of the FTC Act, the Commission may "prosecute any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of the United States.”
Whether filed in court or administratively, FTC enforcement actions are a serious legal matter. FTC enforcement actions are different than garden-variety litigation, and the defense thereof requires the assistance of an attorney experienced in dealing with the FTC. As explained more fully below, the FTC has powers in an FTC enforcement action that a standard plaintiff does not. Moreover, only an experienced attorney will know that the FTC has a pattern of resolving enforcement actions differently, depending on the type of action and the defendant. For example, you may have read about the FTC assessing fines against large corporations such as Amazon and Google. However, a business engaging in one of the high-risk verticals or advertising practices described above is highly unlikely to resolve the case with a mere fine—instead, the FTC is looking to close down the business and seize all assets—including personal assets—of those in charge. If you learn you are a defendant or potential defendant in an FTC enforcement action, you must seek experienced legal counsel immediately.