In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) introduced this bill to prevent scams during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 response, bad actors are taking advantage of the pandemic by scamming or price gouging innocent Americans. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there have been nearly 8,500 reports of fraud or scams during the public health crisis. As businesses struggle, hardworking Americans lose their paychecks and Americans worry about the health of their families, it is abhorrent that scammers are preying on this vulnerable situation. It is also illegal. As federal agencies go after these criminals, I introduced this legislation today because it's necessary that the public is informed of the scams and price gouging so they can be avoided. The more Americans know about the scams, the easier it will be to protect themselves."
Original cosponsor Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) says:
“We are living in a time of stress and uncertainty, and as we combat the spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire and across the U.S., we must also combat the spread of misinformation and scams. Unfortunately, some have seen this public health and economic crisis as an opportunity to take advantage of Americans – especially the most vulnerable among us. By providing critical information and resources to avoid COVID-19 scams, we can keep consumers safe and prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Americans during this national emergency.”
Original Republican cosponsor Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) adds:
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop, unfortunately bad actors have tried to use this public health crisis to prey on people through scams and price gouging. The Combating Pandemic Scams Act will ensure the public is aware of scams to better protect themselves and their loved ones.”
This bill passed the Committee on Energy and Commerce by voice vote with the support of five bipartisan cosponsors, including three Democrats and two Republicans.
Of Note: As of November 16, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 249,219 reports of COVID-19 frauds and scams. In the 48.9% of fraud reports in which a loss was reported, the median fraud loss was $320. In total, consumers reported $182.95 million in total losses. Consumers in all fifty states and Puerto Rico reported COVID-19 frauds and scams.
By volume, online shopping — mostly with regard to people ordering products that never arrive — is the top complaint category with 35,166 reports totaling $25.17 million in cumulative value. Vacation and travel complaints, mostly relating to refunds and cancellations, are second by volume, with 28,715 complaints. However, the total value of these complaints far exceeds that of online shopping complaints, clocking in at $53.19 million.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Kameleon007)