May 06, 2020

Wyden, Merkley Call for Protections Against Scams Targeting Small Businesses

Launch of the Paycheck Protection Program prompted increase in reported scams targeting small businesses during this time of crisis

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called for the Trump administration to protect against scams targeting small businesses seeking relief from COVID-19.

In a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons, Wyden and Merkley joined a group of their colleagues to express concern about the recent increase in scams targeting small businesses and request information on measures the FTC is taking to address the issue to better protect small businesses.

“Small businesses are a crucial part of our economy and employ nearly half of all workers in the private sector. By forcing most potential customers to remain in their homes, the current crisis has placed many small businesses under extreme financial pressure, rendering them unusually vulnerable to scams,” the senators wrote.

“The FTC must take bold action to respond to these threats. While we recognize that the FTC has added information to its website to inform consumers and small businesses about coronavirus-related scams, we are calling on the agencies 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 continued.

The launch of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program has prompted an increase in the volume of reported scams targeting small businesses. Many small businesses have faced challenges in gaining access to the program’s funding, which has emboldened scammers promising quick payment and rendered historically disadvantaged small business owners uniquely vulnerable to exploitation.

Joining Wyden and Merkley on the letter were U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.

A copy of the letter is available here.