Biden’s State of the Union Address: 5 Fraud Prevention Takeaways – CNET

Biden’s State of the Union Address: 5 Fraud Prevention Takeaways – CNET

President Joe Biden during his 2022 State of the Union address

President Joe Biden discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US inflation and the pandemic at his first State of the Union Address. 

Pool/Getty Images

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

President Joe Biden announced new steps to combat fraud and identity theft in pandemic relief programs during his first State of the Union address Tuesday night. The move comes after an uptick in scammers exploiting vulnerabilities like fake COVID-19 test emails designed to steal credit card information and stealing billions in relief benefits

The pandemic sparked a wave of fraud, with the number of reports to the Federal Trade Commission jumping by 50% in 2021 compared with pre-COVID 2019. Cybersecurity attacks, meanwhile, were already on the radar in the wake of Russia’s continued attacks on Ukraine; cybersecurity concerns are on the rise in the US. 

The moves are designed to go after scammers as well as businesses that defraud the government out of funds earmarked for programs like the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Here’s what to know about the Biden administration’s plans to increase cybersecurity amid the ongoing pandemic. 

  • The Biden administration will appoint a chief prosecutor to lead teams of special prosecutors and agents focused on pandemic fraud, namely criminals committing large-scale identity theft and foreign-based actors. The team will use data analytics tools to investigate and analyze identity theft and fraud schemes around the Paycheck Protection Program and unemployment insurance.
  • Biden will ask Congress to supply the Department of Justice task force with the resources to prosecute criminals who’ve illegally obtained loans from the PPP, as well as to increase the penalties for criminals who’ve committed these acts of fraud.
  • Biden plans to announce a new executive order that will address the prevention and detection of identity theft involving public benefits, as well as support victims of identity fraud.
  • The administration says it will continue to crack down on COVID-19 fraud and identity theft cases going back to 2020. This will be done through combined efforts of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement task force, as well as governments collaborating with the NSC cybersecurity team to make recommendations on public benefit theft detection and prevention.
  • It also aims to reestablish respect, transparency and cooperation with the oversight community to enact recommendations like stronger controls for small business loan programs, directing multistate data sharing to detect and combat fraud, and monitoring benefit payments in programs for fraud.  

For more information, check out why you should be using a VPN and how to get started, and five cybersecurity tips for small business owners

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