US senators introduce bill to help FTC return money to scam victims

Signage is seen at the Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, DC REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) – Four Democratic senators, including Senators Maria Cantwell and Amy Klobuchar, have introduced a bill that would allow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to return money to victims of scams, Cantwell’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

The bill would explicitly give the FTC the power to ask a judge to order money back, even if the unlawful conduct has ceased. The commission lost that authority when the Supreme Court ruled that it had overstepped its fight against deception and fraud.

Any assistance will have to be “in the public interest”, his office said. The bill creates a 10-year statute of limitations, according to a copy of the bill released by his office.

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The FTC had been pursuing companies and scammers for decades to recover funds, but was stopped in April 2021 by the Supreme Court, which found the agency had gone further than it legally could by seeking court orders. to compel fraudsters to return money.

In the five years prior to the ruling, the FTC returned $11.2 billion to consumers, Cantwell’s office said.

The FTC needs Congress to give it express authority to recover those funds. The House of Representatives passed a similar law last year.

Business groups have complained that the FTC has been too aggressive.

“For decades, the FTC has used this authority to return billions of dollars owed to consumers and small businesses who have been scammed, defrauded, deceived, or excluded from competitive markets,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Our bill restores that power so that the commission can resume its work on behalf of victims.”

In addition to Cantwell, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Klobuchar, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, the bill was introduced by Senators Ben Ray Luján and Raphael Warnock.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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