Klobuchar, Warren call on FTC to protect small businesses against coronavirus scams

Klobuchar, Warren call on FTC to protect small businesses against coronavirus scams
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Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday called for more protections to help defend small businesses against scams targeting coronavirus-related relief funds.

The letter comes as the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been doling out forgivable loans to small businesses willing to meet certain conditions. 

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), former presidential candidates Warren and Klobuchar led a group of Senate Democrats in urging the agency to take action to defend small businesses, and to keep the businesses informed on how to defend themselves.

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They specifically pointed to concerns that scammers were targeting the SBA funds going to small businesses, which have been hit hard by shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. The scams involve sending fake emails from the SBA to trick businesses into disclosing sensitive financial information, or scammers calling the businesses pretending to offer financial relief. 

The senators asked that the FTC take “bold actions” to address the scams. 

“We are calling on the agency to take stronger action to ensure that the huge population of potential victims—the nearly 60 million hardworking men and women who own or are employed by small businesses—are protected during this time of crisis,” the senators wrote.

The senators requested answers from the FTC around what steps the agency was taking to assist small businesses if they fall victim to the scams, how it is helping historically disadvantaged businesses, such as those in rural or minority communities, and whether the FTC needed additional resources to combat the scams. 

The letter was also signed by Democratic Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoIf only woke protesters knew how close they were to meaningful police reform Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Senate Democrats call on Facebook to crack down on white supremacists MORE (Hawaii), Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday The Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE (Mass.), Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenUS lawmakers call on EU to label entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit The Hill's Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel MORE (Nev.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Democratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane MORE (Ore.), Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe robbing of a wildlife refuge in Nevada Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Klobuchar withdraws from Biden VP contention MORE (Nev.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenMaryland GOP governor who's criticized Trump says he's considering 2024 presidential run Communist China won't change — until its people and the West demand it Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE (Md.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Thomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO MORE (N.J.). 

Coronavirus-themed scams against small businesses, health care organizations and Americans receiving stimulus checks have surged over the past two months. 

The Justice Department notified internet domain hosts of hundreds of potentially malicious websites set up as part of coronavirus scams, while the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received about 3,600 coronavirus-related scam complaints by mid-April. Hackers have also stepped up, targeting hospitals seen as vulnerable during the pandemic.