Senate Democrats move to restore FTC’s ability to obtain monetary relief for scam victims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would regain its ability to obtain monetary relief for victims of illegal scams as part of a new bill introduced by Senate Democrats on Wednesday night. 

Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), along with Sens. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Raphael Warnock (Ga.), introduced the bill that would restore the FTC’s power to return money to consumers under Section 13(B), a provision that was taken away by a Supreme Court decision last year. 

“For decades, the FTC used this authority to return billions of dollars owed to consumers and small businesses who were scammed, swindled, deceived, or locked out of competitive marketplaces,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Our bill restores that power so the commission can get back to its work on behalf of victims in securing redress from the bad actors who deceived them.”

The Consumer Protection Remedies Act of 2022 would allow the FTC to go to court to ask a judge to order scammers to return money to consumers. It would also permit the FTC to go to court to seek monetary remedies for consumers harmed by anticompetitive conduct. 

The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider the bill at a meeting Wednesday. 

The introduction of the bill follows an 80-page report the Commerce Committee released earlier this week that outlined implications of the court’s decision last year and pushed for Congress to take action. 

“Without a legislative fix, the FTC’s ability to provide this important relief is severely hobbled. There is an urgent need for Congress to act to restore the FTC’s Section 13(b) authority to provide meaningful relief for consumers harmed by unfair and deceptive acts and other unlawful practices,” the report stated.

In July, the House passed a similar proposal that would revive the FTC’s authority to return money to constituents harmed by companies found to be engaged in deceptive practices. 

The House bill passed largely along party lines, with Democrats in support of and Republicans opposed to the proposal.

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Author: Rebecca Klar