FTC testifies on combating Covid-19 scams
On April 27, FTC staff testified on behalf of the Commission before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, briefing lawmakers on the FTC’s efforts to protect consumers from scams and frauds connected to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the testimony, presented by acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection Daniel Kaufman, the FTC highlighted that the agency filed more than a dozen law enforcement actions, led the elimination of deceptive claims made by more than 350 companies, and released more than 100 alerts to update consumers and businesses on identifying and avoiding these schemes. According to the testimony, the FTC responded rapidly to identify and stop schemes that have proliferated during the pandemic in response to the demand for scarce goods, to peddle potential treatments and cures, and to exploit consumers’ and businesses’ financial hardships during the crisis. Acting Director Daniel Kaufman noted that “the FTC issued its first warnings to consumers about COVID-19 related scams in February 2020, even before the declaration of a national emergency.” Additionally, the FTC has brought enforcement actions to protect consumers’ privacy and data from digital harms amplified by the ongoing pandemic, and has partnered with the CFPB to ensure “that renters are not subjected to unlawful practices in light of the eviction crisis caused by COVID-19.” The testimony also pointed out that the FTC has received more than 436,000 reports concerning fraud, identity theft, and other consumer problems since January 2020, reflecting $399 million in fraud losses.