On Tuesday, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted to ensure victims of scams, fraud, and other bad actors can get their money returned to them by passing legislation she co-sponsored earlier this year.
For the past forty years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fought to return money taken in scams, frauds, and other financial misrepresentations to victims. In just the last three years, the FTC has secured billions of dollars in returned money to Americans, including repayments for more than 65,000 Iowans.
But in April 2021, the Supreme Court struck down the FTC’s authority to order violators to return the money acquired in financial schemes to their victims.
Rep. Axne co-sponsored and voted to pass the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act to restore that authority, and ensure Iowans are not left in tough financial positions after falling prey to a financial scam.
“At a time when reports of fraud and scams are on the rise because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to ensure our watchdogs have every tool necessary to make victims of fraud whole again. For decades, the FTC has been empowered to get folks their money back if they were ripped off, and I’m committed to restoring this authority to ensure Iowans don’t face potential financial ruin if they get trapped by a scam,” said Rep. Axne. “It’s unacceptable that bad actors might be allowed to keep the money they took from unsuspecting Iowans, and it’s crucial that scammers know they won’t be able to keep the profits of their actions. I advocated to see legislation I co-sponsored passed this week because I know how important it will be for the Iowans who may fall victim to fraud in the future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an explosion of fraud complaints.
Over the first 6 months of 2021, the FTC has received more than 326,000 fraud reports from across the U.S. — including $1.6 million in fraud losses in Iowa.
These include attempts to collect financial information by pretending to be the government, market false medical cures or prescriptions, and promises to help reduce outstanding debt.
Earlier this year, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined a group of 28 attorneys general urging Congress to pass the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act and restore the FTC’s authority.
“If the FTC cannot obtain equitable monetary relief…violators of the FTC Act who are sued in federal court will retain the monetary benefits of their illegal activity,” Attorney General Miller and others wrote. “Simply being prohibited from committing the same bad acts in the future without any additional consequence enables bad actors to keep their ill-gotten gains.”
In May, the House unanimously advanced bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Axne to better protect Americans from COVID-19 fraud.
The COVID-19 Fraud Prevention Act, originally introduced by Rep. Axne in May 2020, would create a new Consumer and Investor Fraud Working Group to help guard against counterfeit, deceptive, and malicious attempts to take advantage of Americans, as well as assist those who have been victims of fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic.