FTC urges Congress to renew cross-border online scam power

Hugh Stevenson, FTC deputy director for international consumer protection, told the US House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing, and trade that renewal of the law, which is set to expire at the end of 2013, is needed to stem the growing tide of international online scams and other cross-border internet crime.

“To continue to protect American consumers in a global economy, the FTC believes it is critical that Congress reauthorize the law enforcement tools provided by the US Safe Web Act”, he testified.

According to FTC statistics, almost half a million US consumers filed complaints about online transactions involving more than $1.4 billion paid to foreign businesses between 2006 and 2011, and cross-border complaints have accounted for more than 10% of FTC fraud complaints every year since 2000.

Stevenson told the committee that, under the law, the FTC has conducted more than 100 international investigations and filed more than 50 cases against online scammers who operate across borders.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, circulated a draft bill that would renew the FTC authority under the Safe Web Act.

“This is a very important bill, and I am asking for your favorable consideration as we begin the process of reauthorizing the US Safe Web Act. It’s good for American consumers. It’s good for the future of e-commerce. And it’s the right thing to do”, she said in her opening statement before the subcommittee.

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