The top consumer protection official at the Federal Trade Commission is leaving the agency.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, joined the commission in 1991. She has done stints as deputy director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau and associate director of its financial practices division.

Rich’s last day at the agency will be Feb. 17, the agency said Tuesday. Her departure comes three weeks after the resignation of FTC Chair Edith Ramirez, an Obama administration appointee. Maureen Ohlhausen is the agency's acting chair.

Jessica Rich, head of the FTC’s consumer protection division
"A lot of what this agency does is bread-and-butter anti-fraud and consumer protection. And we expect the vast majority of it to continue," said Jessica Rich, the head of the FTC's consumer protection division.

In an interview Tuesday, Rich said her departure is part of the normal aftermath of a presidential election, when new FTC chairs generally get the opportunity to appoint their own bureau directors. She said she did not know what her next career move will be.

In recent years, the FTC’s consumer protection bureau has taken action against debt collection firms, online payday lenders and robo-calling operations, among other companies.

Rich expressed particular pride in the work the bureau did to make clear that consumer protection rules apply to tech companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and Uber.

She also expressed confidence that much of the FTC's work will be unaffected by the change in administrations.

"A lot of what this agency does is bread-and-butter anti-fraud and consumer protection," Rich said. "And we expect the vast majority of it to continue."

Ohlhausen said in a press release: “We are grateful to Jessica for her many years of service to the FTC and the public. She is a pioneer in consumer protection who spearheaded major initiatives regarding consumer’s privacy, data security and financial transactions. Many of the FTC’s programs bear her indelible mark.”

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Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack is a California-based reporter for American Banker who covers the U.S. consumer finance industry.