Coronavirus Information For Consumers
The novel coronavirus presents various challenges not only to Hoosiers’ health, but also to Hoosier consumers purchasing essential goods and engaging in other consumer transactions. The Office of the Attorney General is working hard to identify new scams, alert consumers to protect themselves, and take appropriate action against companies that take advantage of this global pandemic to violate the law.
To learn more about the specific actions that you should take to protect yourself and your family’s health, please visit the following websites for up to date expert information:
To get more information about how the federal government is responding to the coronavirus and obtain additional information about their resources, please visit: https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus
COVID-19 & CONSUMERS
Price gouging: Attorney General Hill urges Hoosiers who believe they have been subjected to excessive prices for consumer goods during the pandemic to file a consumer complaint online with the Office’s Consumer Protection Division. To file a complaint, click here.
Evictions and foreclosures: Attorney General Hill asks Hoosiers to file complaints with the Office of the Attorney General should eviction or foreclosure proceedings initiate during the ongoing public health emergency. Click here to file a complaint.
Air travel: Attorney General Hill says air travelers should know their rights before making changes to their flight plans amid the pandemic.
Be cautiously charitable: Attorney General Hill says Hoosiers should be careful when considering making charitable donations amid the outbreak. Click here to learn how to avoid a charity scam, and click here to report them to the Office of the Attorney General.
Canceled events: Attorney General Hill offers guidance to Hoosiers who purchased tickets to events that have been canceled or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Work-from-home scams: Attorney General Curtis Hill says be wary of work-from-home scams during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Click here to learn more.
Fake coronavirus tests: Attorney General Curtis Hill warns Hoosiers to beware of fake coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. Click here to learn more about credible sources.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19
1. How do I file a consumer complaint?
You may file a consumer complaint with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General online or by filling out and mailing a printable form. You may also request a complaint form by calling 1-800-382-5516 or 317-232-6330.
You should use this form if you would like to report price gouging, licensing issues, scams and fraud schemes. There are separate forms for gas gouging complaints, identity theft complaints and robocall complaints.
Completed consumer complaint forms, along with all relevant supporting documentation, should be sent to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. The address is 302 W. Washington St., IGCS 5th Floor, Indianapolis, IN, 46204.
2. How does the consumer complaint process work?
Within seven to 10 working days of our office receiving a complaint and documentation, a copy of the complaint is sent to the business listed on the complaint form. A letter is then sent to the consumer who filed a complaint notifying them of who has been assigned to their file.
The response time of the business determines how quickly the office can determine the next course of legal actions. The typical length of time for complaint resolution is 90 days. However, depending on the circumstances of your complaint, it may take longer.
3. What are some tips to avoid phishing scams?
- Be on alert for communications with dangerous attachments or fraudulent links.
- Treat any emails or text with subject lines or information about coronavirus with caution.
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.
- Always verify the email addresses of those who send you emails.
- Use trusted, legitimate government websites to obtain up-to-date information.
- Don't reveal personal or financial information via email or text message.
- Verify the authenticity of a charity before donating money.
4. Should I trust advertisements for products that claim to treat or cure the coronavirus?
No. There are currently no products scientifically proven to treat or cure the virus.
If you have symptoms of the virus and want to be tested, contact your health care provider. Home tests will also be available through health care providers in the coming weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
5. What should I do if I'm being evicted during this public health emergency?
File a consumer complaint with our Consumer Protection Division. A March 19 executive order from Gov. Eric Holcomb prohibited landlords from initiating eviction proceedings against residential tenants until the state of emergency has ended. Landlords are also prohibited from changing locks, shutting off utilities or otherwise making a dwelling unlivable during the state of emergency.
If our office receives a complaint asserting that an eviction proceeding has been initiated during this time period, a staff member of our office may contact the landlord in order to obtain information regarding the current status of the tenant and their lease.
6. What should I do if my mortgage lender begins the foreclosure process during this public health emergency?
File a consumer complaint with our Consumer Protection Division. The same executive order that prohibits landlords from initiating eviction proceedings against residential tenants during the public health emergency also prohibits mortgage lenders from initiating foreclosures.
If our office receives a complaint asserting that a foreclosure has been initiated during this time period, a staff member of our office may contact the mortgage lender in order to obtain information regarding the current status of the mortgage.
7. What should I know about charity scams?
Scammers take advantage of good-heartedness, and that's especially true in times of crisis. Research any organization to which you'd like to give money before doing so, and be cautious if an organization contacts you and asks for a donation. Don't be pressured to make a donation over the phone or to make a donation without doing your research.
Report charity scams to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General by filing a consumer complaint.
8. I bought a ticket to an event that was canceled due to the coronavirus. What are my options?
Review the terms and conditions of your purchase to determine whether it is refundable. If you are not sure, contact the venue from which you purchased the ticket in an effort to get the remedy you are looking for.
If the terms being offered by the entity are not what where previously advertised, report this to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General by filing a consumer complaint.
9. I'm still waiting for my economic impact payment from the government. Should I be concerned about scams related to the payment?
You should be prepared for phone calls from scammers posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents. The IRS will never call you demanding payments or personal financial information such as you Social Security number. If this happens to you, file a consumer complaint with our office.
10. I bought a ticket for a future flight, but I don't want to fly due to the coronavirus. What can I do?
The CDC recommends you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential.
If you choose not to board a scheduled flight, you are generally entitled to a refund if you purchased a fully refundable ticket. You are also entitled to a refund if an airline cancels a flight or makes a significant schedule change to the flight. You may want to contact your airline to ask if you are entitled to a credit during this time.
If you do not receive a refund from the airline, travel agency or other entity to which you believe you are entitled, you may file a consumer complaint with our office.
11. I still need help. Who should I contact?
You may contact our Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-382-5516 or 317-232-6330.
The Office of the Indiana Attorney General represents the state of Indiana and cannot act as your personal attorney. It is our responsibility to protect public interests. In doing so, we may file lawsuits on behalf of the state against companies that violate laws protecting consumers.
We cannot represent individual consumers when filing lawsuits nor can the office file a lawsuit whose only purpose is to recover money or property for an individual. In these instances, the consumer should seek legal advice from a private attorney, legal aid society or other organization.
Beware products that claim to treat or cure COVID-19
There are no products scientifically proven to cure or treat COVID-19 currently available. There are also currently no home COVID-19 tests.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sent dozens of warning letters to companies that have made scientifically unsupported or deceptive claims that their products treat or cure COVID-19. Click here to view the companies that have received letters.
Please also beware of fake COVID-19 testing sites. The best way to know if a testing site is legitimate is to go somewhere you've been referred to by your doctor, the Indiana State Department of Health or your local health department. File a consumer complaint with our office if you spot a fake COVID-19 testing site.
Beware scams targeting economic impact payments
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says scammers are attempting to take advantage of the U.S. government's economic impact payments, which are being distributed to Americans in an effort to counter the economic consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The FTC says to keep these things in mind as you await your payment:
- The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number.
- The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to receive this money.
The FTC says to submit a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint if you spot an economic impact payment scam.
FILE A COMPLAINT
In addition to specific coronavirus scams and potentially unlawful price increases, Hoosiers may experience challenges with a variety of consumer transactions. The Office of the Attorney General can work to mediate, and potentially investigate, complaints about the following types of conduct that may occur during this crisis. Please submit an online complaint:
- Failure to provide refunds
- Offers for “miracle” cures
- Email Phishing scams
- Charitable donation scams
- Failure to provide refunds
- Unreasonable cancellation fees
- Closed businesses
- Gift cards
- Investment scams
- Work from Home scams
- Landlord/Tenant issues