NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined several of his Senate colleagues to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams, calling on the agency to better inform seniors about coronavirus scams and help victims understand what they can do to protect themselves from being targeted and financially exploited during the pandemic.

“At this time of heightened public fears, reports have highlighted that scams pertaining to the coronavirus are increasing, and that seniors—arguably the most vulnerable population to both the coronavirus and bad actors—have been targeted with calls telling them that the COVID-19 vaccination is ready when no such treatment currently exists. Other reports have outlined how scammers have gone to the homes of elderly people to administer fake tests while also charging them and obtaining their social security numbers,” the senators wrote in a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. “While the FTC has added information to its website to inform consumers about COVID-19 scams, we believe additional measures must be taken to educate seniors and provide consumers with information about how to seek recourse if they are targeted.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) , Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) , Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chairman Simons:

We write to express our serious concern following recent reports highlighting coronavirus (COVID-19)-related scams, including scams that target seniors, and to request information on what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is doing to ensure that seniors are protected from those attempting to financially exploit them during the pandemic.

To date, there are more than 68,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., the most severe of which are among seniors. At this time of heightened public fears, reports have highlighted that scams pertaining to the coronavirus are increasing, and that seniors—arguably the most vulnerable population to both the coronavirus and bad actors—have been targeted with calls telling them that the COVID-19 vaccination is ready when no such treatment currently exists. Other reports have outlined how scammers have gone to the homes of elderly people to administer fake tests while also charging them and obtaining their social security numbers. Although the FTC has sent warning letters to seven sellers of fraudulent COVID-19 treatments, we are concerned that further action is needed to protect the financial wellbeing of seniors—who lose an estimated $3 billion annually from financial scams.

While the FTC has added information to its website to inform consumers about COVID-19 scams, we believe additional measures must be taken to educate seniors and provide consumers with information about how to seek recourse if they are targeted. Given the seriousness of this issue and the growing public health emergency, we urge the FTC to take action to better inform seniors about COVID-19-related fraud and assist victims in understanding their recourse options.

We also respectfully request that you respond to the following questions:

1. What efforts is the FTC currently undertaking to educate seniors about COVID-19-related fraud and how to protect themselves?

2. What additional measures is the FTC planning to better protect seniors and assist them should they become victims of COVID-19-related fraud?

3. How is the FTC working with other federal agencies to combat COVID-19-related scams?

4. What additional resources does the FTC need in order to better protect seniors from COVID-19 and other fraud and educate them on how to prevent it?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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