At FTC Oversight Hearing, Cantwell Pushes For Enhanced Consumer Protections

An FTC report released yesterday detailed 436,000 reports associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic, in which consumers reported $399 million in fraud losses.

April 20, 2021

Opening Statement Video | Audio | Transcript 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, called for increased protections for American consumers and families against fraudulent schemes and other dishonest business practices at today’s hearing.

“These bad actors are kicking consumers when they are already down; peddling fake COVID cures, trolling for personal data in order to commit identity theft, and selling counterfeit PPE to first responders,” Chair Cantwell said. “The FTC report shows a 45% increase in the number of consumer complaints filed for 2020 over 2019.

The FTC report cited by Chair Cantwell at the hearing disclosed that the agency directed over 350 companies to cease deceptive practices related to COVID-19 and issued over 100 consumer and business alerts on COVID-related topics. Last Congress, Chair Cantwell championed  legislation cracking down on bad actors seeking to take advantage of consumers during the pandemic with fraudulent schemes and fake goods.

Chair Cantwell also touched on the dangerous threat to the FTC’s “13(b)” authority currently being considered at the Supreme court.

“That’s why we're here today, to strengthen the Commission's ability to fight for consumers,” Chair Cantwell said. “Unfortunately, the FTC’s long standing authority to return money to victims is endangered now at the Supreme Court. This authority, the so-called “13(b) authority” is the bread and butter of the FTC’s consumer protection mission.”

Throughout the last four decades, the Commission has used this authority to help consumers targeted by a wide variety of illegal scams and anticompetitive practices. And, within the past five years alone, Section 13(b) enforcement cases have resulted in the return of more than $11 billion dollars to consumers. 

Video of Chair Cantwell’s opening statement can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Video of Chair Cantwell’s first round of questioning can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Video of Chair Cantwell’s second round of questioning can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Transcripts can be found HERE and HERE.