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Congress Mulls New Powers To Take On Pandemic-Related Price Gouging

 |  February 2, 2022

As the world enters the third year of battling COVID-19, lawmakers are saying that regulators must do more to stop price gouging and scams targeting the public seeking protection against the coronavirus, PYMNTS reported.

At the Stopping COVID-19 Fraud and Price Gouging hearing on Tuesday, February 1, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on consumer protection, product safety and data security, revealed his office received 800 reports of price gouging in his home state, according to the report. He insisted the lack of regulation by the federal government is part of the problem.

“There is a glaring lack of enforcement at the federal level,” Blumenthal said, per the report. “The federal government, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have few legal tools to hold price gougers accountable.”

As a result, Blumenthal said he plans to introduce legislation to allow federal regulators to do more to protect consumers, the report stated.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the best way to combat such scams is by state attorneys because they are equipped to combat the fraudsters, according to the report.

But Todd Leatherman, counsel for the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute Center for Consumer Protection, testified that the volume of complaints makes it impossible for state attorneys general to do it alone, the report stated.

Last year, as pandemic stimulus funds hit bank accounts and mailboxes, a Federal Trade Commission report alerted consumers to beware of pandemic-related scams, which at the time had cost taxpayers about US$382 million.

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