Consumer Scams on the Rise During COVID-19 – What You Need to Know
During these uncertain times of the global COVID-19 pandemic, people are taking necessary precautions to stay safe by following the guidelines of health officials. However, recent reports indicate that folks need to be prudent and alert against scams that are currently on the rise since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are reporting an uptick in scammers posing as CDC and other medical officials to profit off the public’s panic.
With consumer scams on the rise, folks need to be able to detect scams to protect their livelihood during this time.
Potential scams can come in various forms including:
- Debt collector’s harassment
- Incorrect information about you reported to the credit bureaus
- A company breaking a contract it had with you
- False advertisement
- Deceptive advertising or fraud
- A product causing injuries or health issues
- Issues that arise during or after filing bankruptcy
- Problems with student loans or loan servicer
Scammers are also taking advantage of this time by seeking people’s personal information to divert any COVID-19-related checks. And, despite the national shutdown, debt collectors are still remaining active, which could potentially be illegal. Learn more about some of the specific COVID-19 scams taking place in West Virginia during the pandemic.
Improper debt collection practices include harassing calls, letters, threats and demands from debt collectors, or companies like phone or cable companies, improper patient billing or improper balance billing, improper credit card statement charges or fees, foreclosure notices, car repossessions, and correspondence that violate the terms of the note and/or deed of trust. Other cases can relate to debts regarding identity theft where someone is trying to hold the consumer accountable for debts that are nonexistent to the consumer.
Below are tips and advice to consider should a potential scammer reach out to you or a loved one:
- Use extreme caution with online communication. For emails, verify who the sender is—criminals will sometimes change just one letter in an email address to make it look like one you know. Be very wary of attachments or links; hover your mouse over a link before clicking to see where it’s sending you.
- Be suspicious of anyone offering you something that’s “too good to be true” or is a secret investment opportunity or medical advice. Seek out legitimate sources of information.
- For medical information, those trusted sources are your own doctor, cdc.gov, and your local health department.
- For financial information, that’s ftc.gov or irs.gov.
If you or a loved one believe they have been taken advantage of by a scam during this difficult time, please give your Charleston-based law firm, Tiano O’Dell, a call today at (304) 720-6700. Our West Virginia consumer protection attorneys can help you determine the legality of the situation and take action.