Regional Recovery Task Force Co-Chairs Sherrill and King Introduce Legislation to Protect Americans from COVID-19 Scam Calls

Washington, DC -- Regional Recovery Task Force Co-Chairs Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Peter King (NY-02) led the introduction of the COVID-19 Stop Calling Americans Maliciously (SCAM) Act (H.R. 7299). The legislation will empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to better address scam calls by giving them the authority to seek civil penalties against those carrying out COVID-19 related calls or texting scams. According to the FTC, COVID-19 scam calls have resulted in over $49 million in losses across the country, with a median loss of $450 per person.

"Currently, the FTC only has the authority to first file an injunction and can only seek civil penalties if the injunction is violated. The COVID-19 SCAM Act will help ensure that those preying on vulnerable communities during the pandemic can be brought to justice. The COVID-19 SCAM Act is led by Regional Recovery Task Force Members Reps. Sherrill, King, Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) as well as Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05).

“Exploiting a time of national emergency for personal gain at the expense of our most vulnerable populations is abhorrent and more must be done to protect New Jerseyans and Americans across the country,” said Rep. Sherrill. “The Regional Recovery Task Force has heard from stakeholders on the threats posed by COVID-19 scam calls, how it erodes trust, and the negative impact it has on testing and contact tracing efforts. The COVID-19 SCAM Act is a bipartisan proposal to give the FTC the power to protect consumers.”

“It is essential that we do all that we can to prevent the heartless from preying on our most vulnerable,” said Rep. King. “I am proud to work with Rep. Sherrill to punish those exploiting and restore confidence for those who are fearful and suffering.”

“The last few months have been challenging for millions across the country. It is outrageous when scammers and other bad actors seek to economically harm our most vulnerable communities during this pandemic,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “These scammers are the worst of the worst. The COVID-19 SCAM Act would give the FTC the power to go after scam callers and their operations immediately and provide relief and security to seniors, consumers, and other vulnerable populations across the country. I am proud to work with our Regional Recovery Task Force on this bipartisan legislation.”

In May 2020, the Regional Recovery Task Force held a discussion with Kelly Driscoll, a member of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center, who highlighted the increased challenges of COVID-19 scam calls and the dangers they pose to vulnerable communities. Many reports have highlighted that COVID-19 related scams are rapidly increasing, and that vulnerable populations -- including seniors -- have been targeted with attempted financial exploitation and misinformation about vaccines, among other things.

The Regional Recovery Task Force is a bipartisan congressional group that convenes with leading experts across key fields to put forth bipartisan recommendations and policy proposals for near- and medium-term efforts to get Americans back to work, and address critical questions facing the United States in the coming weeks and months, particularly in the Northeast."