Bipartisan E&C Leaders Urge FTC to Take Enforcement Action Against Rampant COVID-19 Scams
Washington, D.C. – Four bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders wrote to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons today urging increased vigilance and enforcement actions against scams as the recently signed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is implemented.
The letter was signed by Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
“As the United States faces the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, reports of scams and frauds are rampant. Hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls are offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, and selling health insurance,” the four Committee leaders wrote to Simons.
The Committee leaders noted that recovery packages unfortunately tend to spur fraud and scams targeting consumers, and the CARES Act is no different. Even before checks have been issued to eligible Americans, reports of attempts to steal that money are quickly piling up. There are stories of government imposters calling people claiming that they need to verify their personal information to qualify for COVID-19 funds, and other scammers are suggesting people can get more money, or get it faster, by sharing their personal information and paying a processing fee. The leaders believe the FTC, as the nation’s foremost consumer protection agency, must maintain its law enforcement mission during this crisis to protect Americans from these pernicious scams.
“Right now, Americans are fearful of both the spread of the deadly virus and the financial instability that has come with the pandemic. We passed the CARES Act to help Americans in these hard times,” the four Committee leaders continued. “We urge you to ensure that the FTC uses all its tools, including its law enforcement tools and coordination with State attorneys general, to take action against scammers and fraudsters that are trying to steal from vulnerable Americans.”
The members requested biweekly briefings from the FTC for the next six months on the enforcement actions taken by the Commission to combat coronavirus-related scams.
Read the letter to the FTC here.