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Carter Introduces Legislation to Prevent Scams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Washington, April 6, 2020 | comments
Representatives Earl L. "Buddy" Carter (R-Ga.), Annie Kuster (D-Nh.), Richard Hudson (R-Nc.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-De.) introduced legislation to prevent scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous scams across the country. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been working together to stop fraud, including companies making false claims about COVID-19 treatments and prevention or scammers securing financial information when offering fraudulent COVID-19 assistance. 

Additionally, on April 2, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they were redistributing more than half a million confiscated medical devices and pieces of protective equipment that were seized from price gougers. 

The Combating Pandemic Scams Act, will require the FDA, HHS, the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC) to inform the public about the scams that have been reported. With this knowledge, the public can better avoid the scams. 

"As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 response, bad actors are taking advantage of the pandemic by scamming or price gouging innocent Americans," 
said Carter. "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."

“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,” 
said Rep. Kuster. “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.”

“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,”
 said Rep. Hudson. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this common sense legislation.”

“At a time of heightened anxiety for Americans across the country, there are, unfortunately, those who would seek to prey on and take advantage of those anxieties through false claims and scams,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “The FTC and the federal government as a whole need to ensure that the American people are getting timely and accurate information about those bad actors so that those scams can be avoided. I’m proud to be joining Reps. Carter, Kuster, and Hudson in this bipartisan effort to protect American consumers.”

The Combating Pandemic Scams Act requires the FTC, along with HHS, USPS, and the ICCC, to develop and disseminate information to the public on coronavirus scams including mail, telemarketing, internet and robocall fraud. The information must include instructions on how to report scams and it must be continuously updated with the most up-to-date information.

The legislation also requires the timely establishment of a national database on scams in consultation with other federal partners.
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