From our Consumer Protection team: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has been working with our state, local and national partners to help the most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Advocacy Center continues to fight for vulnerable consumers to protect them from financial exploitation. In these uncertain times, our attorneys and paralegals can help protect you and your loved ones from scammers who want to make a quick buck.
People are understandably worried about losing their jobs, income, health care and the problems that will cause with every aspect of their financial lives from their ability to pay bills to the effect the crisis will have on their health and credit. There are several bills working their way through Congress now to provide relief to consumers. As we get new information about new consumer legislation protecting and providing for consumers, we’ll post it here.
In the meantime, be cautious when dealing with people who promise something that sounds too good to be true. Some things to watch out for:
- Price gouging: From bare shelves to outrageous prices for basic products, people are trying to make a quick buck from the coronavirus crisis. If you think a merchant is price gouging, report the business to the N.C. Attorney General’s office. They can investigate and shut down any scammers, if necessary.
- Phony cures: Scammers promise to sell you a product or service that will prevent or cure the coronavirus, or, offer to sell you a product they don’t have.
- Fake charities: Say they will donate to affected communities, but will pocket the money instead.
- Door-to-door sales: Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering to sell you something. Don’t sign anything presented to you by someone that contacts you first. Take your time to read any paperwork and let someone else review any document before you sign it.
- Bogus “official communications” emails from government agencies: These emails could say they are from federal and state governments, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). These emails will have the look and feel of an official memo, and purport to contain “important information” or maps relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, in an attachment; or other calls to action that involve opening a file or clicking on a link. Instead, the files or links lead to key-loggers, bogus web sites that try to capture personal information, or ransomware.
- “Coronavirus Tracker” Apps: These appear as an ad or link for a free download of a mobile app that claims to provide real-time updates of COVID-19 outbreaks, mapped against your location. But instead of an app, the download contains a ransomware payload.
And, remember, if you fall behind on your mortgage, rent or other bills, there may be some relief available to you. Contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Consumer Protection Program if you think you are being taken advantage of or need information about a consumer matter.
Student Loan Payments Deferred: (March 20) The Trump administration announced that student loan payments can be stopped for 60 days with no accrued interest if the borrower will call and make a request from their loan servicer. Those who still want to make their payments can do so. These payments would apply directly to the principal balance, which may allow some borrowers to pay off their loan more quickly. Read more.