Consumer Protection Alert
Consumer Protection Alert

Residents Urged to Stay Alert for Scams and Price Gouging

Author: District Attorney
Date: 4/10/2020 3:01 PM

The County of San Luis Obispo urges residents to beware of scams and price gouging in connection with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, scammers will try to take advantage of the community through misinformation and scare tactics. Scammers may create fake websites, emails, texts, or posts on social media impersonating a relief agency to profit illegally.  While they may appear to be legitimate, they often include misspellings or business logos that appear to have been copied.  Scammers may try to reach consumers by phone, email, postal mail, text, or social media.  Residents are advised to never release personal information, such as bank account or Social Security numbers.

Current known phone scams included two pleas for residents to purchase gift cards to be used either for posting bail at the Sheriff’s Department or to pay for food offered through the County’s free food and prescription delivery program for seniors and self-isolating residents.  The County will never call you to request payment for fees in the form of gift cards.

“While most businesses are honest and have good intentions, there are always bad actors waiting to take advantage of social fear and anxiety,” said San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow.  “Inform your family and friends about scams you may be aware of so they can be prepared in the event they are targeted.  We are all in this together.”

Businesses, retailers, and other providers of services or goods that include food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, gasoline, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations, and rental housing are prohibited from price gouging.  Price gouging occurs when those goods or services are priced more than 10 percent higher than the amount that existed before February 4, 2020; goods and services providers may only charge more than a 10 percent increase if their costs have increased.

The District Attorney’s office has a specially trained civil prosecutor and investigator team assigned to handle all civil consumer and environmental protection cases.  Any person who observes or is a target of price gouging or a scam is encouraged to contact the County of San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office at (805) 781-5800 or by email at [email protected].

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