FTC tracking COVID-19 scammers

The Federal Trade Commission said they’ve tracked more than 400,000 scams related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and consumers have lost nearly $400 million.

Now, FTC officials said their ability to fight scammers has been dealt a devastating blow.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to tackle an uptick in pandemic scams, including criminals contacting seniors to offer fake vaccine appointments for money.

Other scams include stealing personal information while offering help with funeral services; selling fake sanitizer and masks online; and pedaling fake COVID cures, treatments and counterfeit vaccination cards.

Consumer groups are warning the worst is yet to come, due in large part to a recent Supreme Court decision that no longer allows the FTC to go after deceptive companies for monetary damages.

A Florida resident gave her contact information to the health department for a vaccine appointment, only to get a call back from the caller asking her to spell out her name.

“I said, ‘You should have my name. I mean you’re getting in touch with me about the vaccine,'” Janice Gach said she told the caller.

She thought it might be a scam and hung up.

Right now, the FTC is asking Congress to reinstate its ability to collect money for consumers. Until then, officials said they’ll be working with law enforcement agencies to hold scammers accountable.

FTC scam tracker

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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