Email inboxes were flooded with deceptive messages about COVID-related products, and consumers lost $399 million overall between January 2020 and April 2021. according to Protecting Consumers During the COvID-19 Pandemic: A Year in ‘Review, a report from the Federal Trade Commission.
In response, the FTC has taken these actions during the pandemic:
- Filed 13 enforcement actions against companies that failed to deliver personal protective equipment or made fraudulent health or earnings claims.
- Directed over 350 firms to remove deceptive claims related to COVID-19 treatments, potential earnings and other matters.
- Prioritized privacy enforcement actions regarding conduct that the FTC says was exacerbated in the transformation to digital work and schooling. This included videoconferencing, ed-tech and health-tech.
- Collected and tracked more than 436,000 reports associated with COVID-19 between January 2020 and April 7, 2021.
- Issued more than 100 consumer and business alerts on COVID-related topics.
“But make no mistake: The Commission’s work on its COVID-19 response is just beginning,” the FTC adds.