White Mountain Independent
WHITE MOUNTAINS — One of the unfortunate consequences of emergency situations sometimes is scams to get people’s money.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have recently come out of the woodwork all over the nation, and here in Arizona.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema are warning people, especially seniors, not to fall prey to a scam during this vulnerable time.
Among the scams making their way around the state right now is crooks going door-to-door telling people they have a way to disinfect and sanitize homes so homeowners and renters living in the homes won’t be susceptible to COVID-19.
And there is a census scam where con artists claiming to be census workers are asking for people‘s financial/personal information or money.
“The Census Bureau has suspended field operations until April because of COVID-19. Never allow anyone access to your house that you don’t know or didn’t request assistance from,” a press release from Brnovich’s office states.
Resources available for seniors
Senator Sinema’s office has launched a page on her website providing COVID-19 related resources.
Consumer fraud complaints can be filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office online here, or call the Attorney General’s Office at 602-542-2124, (800) 352-8431, or email email@example.com.
The Attorney General’s Office produces the Senior Scam Alert Series – a series of free palm cards with valuable information on popular scams, how to spot the scam, and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Seniors in need of assistance can contact their regional Area Agency on Aging for information on available resources.
The public can also dial 2-1-1 in Arizona to get general health information about COVID-19. The hotline provides information in English and Spanish.
If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. If you need a complaint form sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.
Another scam to sell people non-existent vaccines, and even supernatural protections against COVID-19, are also of major concern to Brnovich and Sinema.
“Con artists are calling and emailing consumers claiming to be from medical organizations that have a COVID-19 vaccination and require payments to buy a dose. The Internet has been flooded with ads for sham treatments such as hand soaps, supplements, toothpastes, and essential oils. A recently cancelled event scheduled for Phoenix promised supernatural protections against COVID-19. There currently is no vaccination for COVID-19 and there is no proven product to cure the virus,” the press release said.
Next is the financial assistance which Congress approved this week as part of an emergency financial package to assist businesses and American workers as a result of COVID-19. That opens the possibility that scammers will try to get people to give them personal information to access their government assistance money.
The government will not text anyone or ask anyone to pay anything up-front to receive those benefits. And the government will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number by text or phone call.
If anyone does, report it to the local police and hang up.
Brnovich and Sinema said that there are also reports of residents in the state getting text messages about needing to be “Prequalified” to get the federal assistance..
“Legitimate government offices will not call and threaten to arrest you or penalize you for not providing personal information,” the press release from Brnovich’s office stated emphatically.
Also recently, some very kind and generous people have been offering to shop for seniors and other adults who are either self-isolating or self-quarantining during the outbreak.
Many of the people offering to do that are good, honest individuals who do it and bring back the groceries and change.
But others are just con artists who take the money and run.
“Do not trust random strangers to shop for you,” say Brnovich and Sinema.
Brnovich and Sinema also asked everyone to have each other’s back during this time.
“This is a vulnerable time for many and we can’t overlook the mental and emotional impact self-isolation can have on us all,” Brnovich said. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for Arizonans to remain in regular phone contact with their parents, grandparents, and other seniors to ensure their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are being met.”
“Arizonans should stay alert and look out for one another during this difficult time. For up-to-date coronavirus information, all Arizonans should listen to government scientists and specialists; they are experts and will help you stay safe, healthy, and calm,” Sinema said.