FTC calls for legislation giving agency more authority to fight for consumer protection

WASHINGTON, DC — The agency in charge of protecting consumers is calling on Congress to help them crack down on scammers through new legislation.

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for protecting consumers from unfair business practices like false advertising and robocalls as well as from illegal scams.

The FTC looks into consumer complaints and gets legal action taken against the companies at fault.

It’s a problem that has been intensified during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The coronavirus has created a new avenue for scammers to take advantage of consumers,” said. Sen Roger Ricker (R-Mississippi).

Privacy and data security are among the key issues the FTC deals with while protecting consumers.

“Hardly a week goes by without Americans learning about another major cyber-attack, breach or vulnerability,” said Noah Phillips, an FTC Commissioner.

The FTC is now calling on Congress to clarify the law which it says limits their abilities.

"A 100- year old statute that is an imperfect tool for this purpose," said FTC Chairman Joseph Simons.

The FTC is pushing for data security legislation.

Simons said there should be laws to allow the agency to seek civil penalties against companies that harm customers and he called for better cross-border enforcement when companies operate outside the U.S.

“We believe we need more authority,” Simons said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) said she plans to introduce a bill to clarify the definition of price gouging and to enforce civil penalties for COVID-19 consumer scams.

“The FTC needs clear price gouging legislation to go after these scammers,” Cantwell said.

Over the last four years, the FTC said it has helped return more than $975 million to consumers.