As part of the ongoing effort to protect consumers, Federal Trade Commissioner Robert C. Wilkins has issued a formal letter outlining his plans for an online complaint mechanism.
Wilkin’s letter was posted to the FTC website today and outlines how consumers can file complaints against financial advisors who are violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPPA).
The letter also outlines how to file complaints via the FTC’s Online Complaint Center (OCC).
Consumers can visit the OCC website to file a complaint and receive an automated response.
Wilkins has long been committed to ensuring that consumers have access to accurate information regarding financial advisors.
In 2014, Wilkins established the Financial Advisers Consumer Protection Unit (FPPUU) to improve the ability of consumers to make accurate financial decisions.
This unit was the first entity to be created to address the issue of financial advisors’ inappropriate financial advice.
Since then, Wilkin has made the OCP his focus, calling it his “number one priority” in order to protect the consumer and ensure that consumers receive the highest quality information available.
“I am also committed to supporting the consumer rights of those who have been harmed by the improper and deceptive marketing of financial products,” Wilkins said in a statement.
“In order to accomplish these goals, I will continue to work to develop the OCO and its enforcement units.”
Wilkins outlined his plan for the OPC in an August 2016 blog post.
He wrote that the OCE will focus on two primary goals: protecting consumers from financial advisors that make misleading and deceptive financial advice, and promoting the quality of information that financial advisors provide.
The OCE, Willey wrote, will be charged with enforcing “the law against financial services firms that fail to disclose the extent to which they use deceptive marketing practices and misrepresent the products and services they offer.”
The OCC is currently operating under a “closed” model, which means that the agency has no formal complaints system.
However, Wilkes announcement today gives consumers the option to file their own complaints via a formal complaint form.
The complaint process is expected to take between 90 days and three years to complete.
According to Wilkins, the OCTU is intended to “ensure that consumers who have not previously received an OCC complaint are able to file and receive a complaint with confidence, while also ensuring that financial services providers and their financial advisers comply with the law.”
Wilkin also outlined his plans to expand the OCFM, a new tool that will allow consumers to submit complaints against their financial advisors through the OCA.
The OCFMK will allow for complaints against an entire firm, including individual advisors.
The website is currently being designed by the Financial Consumer Agency of America (FCAA), which will handle complaints against the firms it oversees.
Wilkin has said that he is working on expanding the OC as well.
The new OCC will “ensuringly impact the financial services industry, and it will require significant investment in both technology and staff to make sure that consumers are protected,” Wilkin said.