Who Can You Complain to at the Federal Level?

October 1st, 2011

Spot an ad that you think has issues?  Want to complain to a federal agency?  Here’s a topic-by-topic list of federal agencies that deal with deceptive advertising.

(Note that sometimes more than one agency deals with a certain type of advertisement or label, which can get confusing.  When in doubt, it’s safest to complain to all the agencies listed for your particular topic.)

Airline Alcohol Cosmetics Dietary Supplements Drugs
Financial Institutions Food International Companies Mailed Advertisements Medical Devices
Organic Claims Pesticides Scholarships, Grants, & Students Loans Spam/E-Commerce Telecommunications
Tobacco Everything Else
TOPIC AGENCY
AIRLINE U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
Office of Aviation Consumer Protection
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
Phone: (202) 366-2220
https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint

ALCOHOL

(two agencies share jurisdiction over alcohol advertising and labeling)

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
Market Compliance Office
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 453-2251
E-mail: alfd@ttb.treas.gov
 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
COSMETICS Labeling:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

Advertising:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS Labeling:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

Advertising:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

DRUGS
Prescription drugs U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm
Over-the-counter drugs Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

 Credit card companies

(two agencies share jurisdiction over credit card advertising, but the FTC does the lion’s share of the work)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
PO Box 2900
Clinton, IA 52733-2900
Phone: (855) 411-CFPB (2372)/(855) 729-CFPB (2372)
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

Credit unions

(two agencies oversee credit ads by credit unions)

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
Office of Inspector General
P.O. Box 25705
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 518-6350/(800) 778-4806
E-mail: oighotline@ncua.gov
https://www.ncua.gov/about-ncua/inspector-general/hotline
 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Federal savings associations

(two agencies oversee ads by federal savings associations)

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
Phone: (800) 613-6743
http://www.helpwithmybank.gov/complaints/index-file-a-bank-complaint.html
 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
Investment companies U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
100 F Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20549
https://www.sec.gov/tcr
For a list of phone numbers, click here.

Mortgage brokers and Services

(two agencies oversee ads for mortgage brokers and services)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
PO Box 2900
Clinton, IA 52733-2900
Phone: (855) 411-CFPB (2372)/(855) 729-CFPB (2372)
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/
National banks Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
Phone: (800) 613-6743
http://www.helpwithmybank.gov/complaints/index-file-a-bank-complaint.html
State-charted banks Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Consumer Response Center
1100 Walnut St., Box #11
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (877) 275-3342
https://ask.fdic.gov/FDICCustomerAssistanceForm/
FOOD
Meat and poultry Labeling:

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
Phone: (888) MPHotline (674-6854)
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Contact_US/index.asp

Advertising:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

All food

(except meat and poultry)

Labeling:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

Advertising:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES

(there are three places you can complain to about ads by international companies)

Econsumer.gov
https://econsumer.gov/#crnt
 
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx
 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

MAILED ADVERTISEMENTS

(two agencies share jurisdiction over mailed ads)

U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Criminal Investigations Service Center
Attn: Mail Fraud
433 W. Harrison Street, Room 3255
Chicago, IL 60699-6100
Phone: (877) 876-2455
https://www.uspis.gov/report/
 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
MEDICAL DEVICES
 Restricted Labeling and advertising:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

All medical devices

(other than restricted)

Labeling:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

Advertising:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

ORGANIC CLAIMS IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS NOP Compliance and Enforcement Branch
Agricultural Marketing Service
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Mail Stop 0268, Room 2648-S
Washington, D.C. 20250-0268
Phone: (202) 720-3252
E-mail: NOPCompliance@ams.usda.gov
https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/enforcement/organic/file-complaint
PESTICIDES Labeling:

Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, 2201A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/report-environmental-violations
For a list of phone numbers, click here.

Advertising:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

SCHOLARSHIPS, GRANTS & STUDENT LOANS

 

(two agencies share jurisdiction over ads for scholarships, and grants, and three agencies share jurisdiction over ads for student loans)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
 
U.S. Department of Education (ED)
Office of Inspector General
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-1500
Phone: (800) MISUSED (647-8733)
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/hotline.html
 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
PO Box 2900
Clinton, IA 52733-2900
Phone: (855) 411-CFPB (2372)/(855) 729-CFPB (2372)
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/
SPAM/E-COMMERCE

General

(two agencies share jurisdiction over spam ads, though the FTC seems to do most of the work)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
 
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

Spam sent to wireless devices, or spam from or regarding communications companies

(two agencies share jurisdiction over spam ads sent to cell phones)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Fax Complaints about substance of ad:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Complaints about not wanting to receive the ad:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

 Radio General:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Certain ads (i.e., ads for tobacco products, ads that perpetuate a fraud, ads that promote certain lotteries, and obscene, indecent, or profane ads):

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Telephone/telemarketing Complaints about substance of ad:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Complaints about Do-Not-Call Registry:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Complaints about telemarketing before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Television General:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Certain ads (i.e., ads for tobacco products, ads that perpetuate a fraud, ads that promote certain lotteries, and obscene, indecent, or profane ads):

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

TOBACCO

(several agencies oversee tobacco advertising and marketing, though the FDA and FTC seem to do the bulk of the work)

Advertising and labeling:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone: (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332)
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

Prohibition against lottery features and indecent, immoral picture, print, or representation on packages:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
Market Compliance Office
Advertising, Labeling and Formulation Division
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 453-2251/(866) 927-ALFD (2533)
E-mail: alfd@ttb.treas.gov

Prohibition against ads on TV or radio:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Phone: (888) CALL-FCC (225-5322)
https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

EVERYTHING ELSE

(not listed above)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Phone: (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
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