RALEIGH — On Thursday, March 19, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein held a virtual townhall aimed at warning the public of scams associated with the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
“At a time when we should be focusing on taking necessary health precautions and staying safe, some bad actors are focusing on taking people’s hard-earned money,” Stein said in a press release.
North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect, which makes it illegal to charge too much during a crisis. Report potential price gouging at ncdoj.gov/gouging or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
Stein also released a one-page guide with five key ways to help consumers better understand these scams. The guide warns the public not to buy “miracle cures” and to be a smart shopper.
The public should beware of phishing attempts by using trusted resources for updates, including NCDHHS and the CDC.
“According to health officials, no product exists that will prevent you from getting the coronavirus or cure you if you already have the virus,” the one-page guide reads. “The best way to protect yourself is by taking common-sense health precautions.”
In addition, the guide warns citizens to avoid charity scams and should be on the lookout for robocalls that are coronavirus-related scam calls. Robocalls can be reported to the N.C. Dept. of Justice online at ncdoj.gov/norobo or by calling 1-844-8-NO-ROBO.
During the town hall, Stein suggested that people should check in on their elderly family members more often for health reasons and to make sure no one is taking advantage of them. He stressed that once robocallers “get their hooks into somebody” they will “bleed them dry.”
“This office can only process violations against bad actors when the people of North Carolina let us know,” said Stein, later adding that people should be skeptical of calls and solicitations and that “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
On questions arising from venues or events with cancelations, Stein said that people should contact the organizer or venue for refunds. If the event coordinators or venues are not providing refunds, Stein said to contact his office so the situation can be looked into.
The virtual town hall can be accessed by North Carolinians through the following social media accounts for the N.C. Department of Justice: