As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities across the world, our social media feeds have been flooded with stories of kindness and heroism during these difficult times. Across the country, people are united in an effort to combat the virus and lend a helping hand in any way they can. However, some individuals are attempting to profit from the fear and uncertainty of the global health crisis. From email scams to price gouging, we want to keep you informed of the crimes these individuals are committing so that you can avoid becoming a victim.
In late March, Congress passed an emergency economic relief bill to help aid small businesses and employees during this difficult time. Recently, some of our clients have received email solicitations requesting large deposits in return for a guaranteed economic relief loan. These email solicitations take advantage of the economic concerns many individuals across the country are currently facing. Do not let these solicitations fool you: any loan information that you may need for your small business can be found on the Small Business Administration’s official website.
Economic relief loans are only one of the many offerings scam email and phone solicitations are utilizing to take advantage of our clients. Fake medicines and testing kits claim to provide a “cure” to COVID-19, in exchange for a large sum of money. None of these scams are FDA approved, and can lead to serious consequences for your health. If you are experiencing symptoms and believe you need to be tested for COVID-19, contact your doctor or your County Health Department.
Pursuant to Florida Statute, price gouging is illegal during a state of emergency. This means that during a state of emergency, individuals and businesses cannot sell items at a price that is unreasonably higher than its normal price. For example, if you purchase an excess of toilet paper or cleaning supplies, and sell the item to someone else at a price that is much higher than the normal price of the item, you may be guilty of price gouging. If you believe an individual or business has committed price gouging, you can report this information to the Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226. Read more about price gouging on the Attorney General’s official website.
The best way to avoid falling victim to these crimes is to stay informed. However, we know how difficult it can be to stay informed during these difficult times. We are here to help. We are offering free 15-minute legal sessions to answer your questions and guide you through the latest COVID-19 laws. Contact us today to schedule your session.
Written by: Michelle Merson, Guy Fronstin, Tiffany Monroy