March 25, 2021
by Carol Kando-Pineda Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education
While everything about the past year has felt strange and new — I just can’t say unprecedented another time — we could see one thing coming: scammers seized any opportunity to take advantage of the confusion and heightened emotion surrounding COVID-19. So, the FTC sprang into action, suing companies that made deceptive claims and did not correct them, making sure that deceptive claims for hundreds of products were quickly removed, sending hundreds of warning letters, and creating a dedicated site to share information as quickly as possible. We kept moving on other issues, too, got back $483 million to consumers who lost money to frauds, and expanded our outreach. Here’s the highlight reel from 2020.
Reporting for duty. The agency launched a new streamlined and user-friendly website, ReportFraud.ftc.gov, where you can easily report scams, frauds, and bad business practices. The FTC has long encouraged people to report these issues to the agency when they encounter them — whether or not they lost money to the fraud.
Helping every community. The FTC kicked off a new initiative, the Community Advocate Center, aimed at partnering with community legal aid organizations to expand our outreach to lower-income communities to encourage them to report fraud and provide them with advice to help recover.
Reaching out. Last year, the Commission published 470 consumer blog posts (243 in English, 227 in Spanish) sent to more than 367,000 subscribers: more than 312,000 in English and 55,000 in Spanish. The FTC’s blog posts from 2020 (in English) logged more than 7.9 million views.
Just watch. FTC videos online logged 2 million views. The most viewed video was Your Source for a Truly Free Credit Report? Annual Credit Report.com; it got 140,600 views on the FTC's websites and 74,300 views on YouTube. In 2020, the FTC’s YouTube channel gained 7,700 new followers (for a total of 22,400).
You’ve got mail. In 2020, the Commission had a total of 2.2 million people who got the agency’s email updates.
Social life. The FTC’s social networks had a healthy growth spurt last year: for Facebook, more than 10,000 new followers (for a total of 89,000); for Twitter, nearly 9,000 new followers (for a total of 78,000); and for LinkedIn, 3,900 new followers (for a total of 15,200).