On February 13, the Federal Trade Commission issued its annual report for fiscal year 2018 and announced that enforcement actions from July 2017 through June 2018 yielded more than $2.3 billion in refunds to allegedly defrauded U.S. consumers. To put the total sum in perspective, the $2.3 billion figure was almost eight times the FTC’s annual budget for the fiscal year ($306 million).
The figure also includes refunds from the FTC’s much-publicized settlement with Volkswagen that required the company to offer a buyback program for owners of diesel cars fitted with illegal emissions defeat devices.
Of the $2.3 billion, $122 million was mailed directly by the FTC to approximately 2.2 million consumers. Those direct checks were generated by more than 38 separate enforcement actions. More than two-thirds of the consumers who were mailed checks actually cashed them. In some cases, the FTC was able to administer additional mailings using money left over from uncashed checks. Administrative costs associated with mailing refunds accounted for five percent of the money collected in these cases.