Like clockwork, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued its Adjustments to Civil Penalty Amounts for 2023. As instructed by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the FTC and other similarly situated federal agencies ring in the new year not with champagne and confetti, but with adjusted maximum civil penalty amounts.

The adjustments, which occur every year, are intended to account for inflation and are based on the cost-of-living adjustment that is calculated from U.S. Department of Labor year-to-year Consumer Price Index data.

The FTC has revised its rule for adjusting civil monetary penalty amounts by listing increased civil penalty amounts for violations under 16 different provisions of law within its jurisdiction. For example, the penalty amounts for unfair or deceptive acts or practices under Sections 5(l), 5(m)(1)(A), and 5(m)(1)(B) of the FTC Act are set to increase from $46,517 to $50,120.

The FTC’s new penalty amounts will be applied to assessments made after publication of the new amounts in the Federal Register (the “effective date”), which should take only a few days. Significantly, the new penalty amounts—once effective—will apply to violations that took place even before the effective date of the adjustment, as long as the assessment itself occurs after the effective date for the adjustment. Inflation strikes again!

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