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116th Congress }                                            { Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session    }                                            { 116-591

======================================================================



 
                  COMBATING PANDEMIC SCAMS ACT OF 2020

                                _______
                                

 November 16, 2020.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Pallone, from the Committee on Energy and Commerce, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 6435]

    The Committee on Energy and Commerce, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 6435) to direct the Federal Trade Commission to 
develop and disseminate information to the public about scams 
related to COVID-19, and for other purposes, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
   I. Purpose and Summary.............................................1
  II. Background and Need for the Legislation.........................2
 III. Committee Hearings..............................................2
  IV. Committee Consideration.........................................3
   V. Committee Votes.................................................3
  VI. Oversight Findings..............................................3
 VII. New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditure4
VIII. Federal Mandates Statement......................................4
  IX. Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives...........4
   X. Duplication of Federal Programs.................................4
  XI. Committee Cost Estimate.........................................4
 XII. Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff Benefits.....4
XIII. Advisory Committee Statement....................................4
 XIV. Applicability to Legislative Branch.............................4
  XV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation..................5
 XVI. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported...........5

                         I. PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 6435, the ``Combating Pandemic Scams Act of 2020'', 
was introduced by Representatives Earl L. ``Buddy'' Carter (R-
GA), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Ann M. Kuster (D-NH), and Lisa 
Blunt Rochester (D-DE). H.R. 6435 aims to protect Americans, 
especially senior citizens and people with infirmities and 
disabilities, from deceptive and fraudulent scams while the 
United States continues to face the current coronavirus disease 
2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Specifically, H.R. 6435 directs the 
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop and disseminate 
information to the public about scams related to COVID-19. H.R. 
6435 also requires the FTC, in consultation with the Attorney 
General and Secretary of Health and Human Services, among other 
relevant agencies, to establish a comprehensive national 
database to track all instances of scams relating to COVID-19.

                II. BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    While the 21st century has provided countless Americans 
with opportunities for economic and personal growth, 
technological advances have also expanded the ways for 
deceptive and malicious actors to target and scam U.S. 
citizens. Scammers have also been known to exploit consumer 
fear and confusion during national emergencies or other crises. 
During the COVID-19 pandemic, malicious actors have repeatedly 
tried to steal stimulus checks,\1\ trick senior citizens into 
buying fraudulent COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,\2\ and dupe 
small businesses into fraudulent financial arrangements during 
times of social distancing.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Federal Trade Commission, Coronavirus Stimulus Payment Scams: 
What You Need to Know (Apr. 20, 2020) (www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/
04/coronavirus-stimulus-payment-scams-what-you-need-know).
    \2\Federal Trade Commission, Cracking Down on Fake COVID-19 Cures 
(July 31, 2020) (www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/07/cracking-down-fake-
covid-19-cures).
    \3\Federal Trade Commission, Fraudulent Funders = Big Woes for 
Small Businesses (June 10, 2020) (www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/06/
fraudulent-funders-big-woes-small-businesses).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although the FTC has communicated instances of such scams, 
the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need to improve 
efforts to disseminate information of targeted scams in a 
timely manner. The FTC must proactively and adequately notify 
Americans, especially vulnerable populations outlined in the 
legislation, of malicious scamming efforts, how to ward against 
them, and how to report them to the appropriate agency.
    H.R. 6435 aims to provide Americans with such information 
on these efforts, including tools to pick up on warning signs, 
by disseminating information and making that information 
publicly available to all Americans. Through the various 
hearings and meetings with stakeholders on this issue, it is 
clear that a comprehensive database of information created by 
H.R. 6435 will protect Americans from malicious scammers.

                        III. COMMITTEE HEARINGS

    For the purposes of section 103(i) of H. Res. 6 of the 
116th Congress, the following hearings were used to develop or 
consider H.R. 6435:
    The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held 
an oversight hearing on May 8, 2019. The hearing was entitled, 
``Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission: Strengthening 
Protections for Americans'' Privacy and Data Security.'' The 
Subcommittee received testimony from the following witnesses:
           The Honorable Joseph J. Simons, Chairman, 
        Federal Trade Commission
           The Honorable Noah Joshua Phillips, 
        Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
           The Honorable Rohit Chopra, Commissioner, 
        Federal Trade Commission
           The Honorable Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, 
        Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
           The Honorable Christine S. Wilson, 
        Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
    The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held 
an oversight hearing on July 9, 2020. The hearing was entitled, 
``Consumers Beware: Increased Risks During the COVID-19 
Pandemic.'' The Subcommittee received testimony from the 
following witnesses:
           Kevin Anderson, Senior Deputy Attorney 
        General, Director Consumer Protection Division, North 
        Carolina Department of Justice
           Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, 
        National Consumers League
           Thomas Quaadman, Executive Vice President, 
        Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Chamber 
        Technology Engagement Center Global Innovation Policy 
        Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

                      IV. COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    Representatives Carter (R-GA), Hudson, Kuster, and Blunt 
Rochester introduced H.R. 6435 on April 3, 2020, and the bill 
was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. H.R. 6435 
was then referred to the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection 
and Commerce on April 4, 2020. The Subcommittee held oversight 
hearings related to this bill prior and after the bill was 
introduced.
    On September 9, 2020, H.R. 6435 was discharged from further 
consideration by the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and 
Commerce as it was called up for consideration by the full 
Committee on Energy and Commerce. The full Committee met in 
virtual open markup session on September 9, 2020, pursuant to 
notice, to consider H.R. 6435 and thirty-seven other bills. No 
amendments were offered during consideration of the bill. Upon 
conclusion of consideration of the bill, the full Committee 
agreed to a motion on final passage offered by Mr. Pallone, 
Chairman of the committee, to order H.R. 6435 reported 
favorably to the House, without amendment, by a voice vote, a 
quorum being present.

                           V. COMMITTEE VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list each record vote 
on the motion to report legislation and amendments thereto. The 
Committee advises that there were no record votes taken on H.R. 
6435, including the motion for final passage of the bill.

                         VI. OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 2(b)(1) 
of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in the descriptive portion of the report.

 VII. NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY, ENTITLEMENT AUTHORITY, AND TAX EXPENDITURES

    Pursuant to 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its own the 
estimate of new budget authority, entitlement authority, or tax 
expenditures or revenues contained in the cost estimate 
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974.
    The Committee has requested but not received from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office a statement as to 
whether this bill contains any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.

                    VIII. FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act.

       IX. STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general 
performance goal or objective of this legislation is to protect 
the public from scams related to COVID-19 by developing and 
disseminating information.

                   X. DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII, no provision of 
H.R. 6435 is known to be duplicative of another Federal 
program, including any program that was included in a report to 
Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 or the 
most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

                      XI. COMMITTEE COST ESTIMATE

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII, the Committee 
adopts as its own the cost estimate prepared by the Director of 
the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

    XII. EARMARKS, LIMITED TAX BENEFITS, AND LIMITED TARIFF BENEFITS

    Pursuant to clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI, the 
Committee finds that H.R. 6435 contains no earmarks, limited 
tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits.

                   XIII. ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this 
legislation.

                XIV. APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

           XV. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 designates that the short title may be cited as 
the ``Combating Pandemic Scams Act of 2020''.

Sec. 2. Information about scams related to COVID-19

    Subsection (a) requires the FTC, as expeditiously as 
possible and in consultation with relevant agencies, to develop 
and disseminate information to the public about scams related 
to COVID-19. Subsection (b) requires the FTC, in consultation 
with relevant agencies, to establish a comprehensive national 
database to track all instances of scams relating to COVID-19.

       XVI. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    There are no changes to existing law made by the bill H.R. 
6435.