Coronavirus-related scams, price gouging a rising issue across Nassau County

Posted: Updated:

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has issued a warning that scammers are trying to use coronavirus worries to scam people out of their personal information.

Curran says scammers have called from a "coronavirus hotline" asking people for their Medicare information. She says they've seen a 49% spike in these types of scam calls.

"There is a bunch of low-life people out there that are sitting and waiting, and prey in times of crisis," says Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. "Well, they are coming out in droves right now and making these phone calls."

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The Federal Trade Commission says it has also received reports of coronavirus-based emails, charity and vaccine investment opportunity scams. Officials say most of these people are looking to steal personal information or a credit card number.

"You will never be asked to provide credit card or insurance information over the phone if it is a legitimate phone call regarding coronavirus," says Curran.

Consumer Affairs investigators in Nassau County are reporting an increase in numbers of violations of alleged price gouging on in-demand items.

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Nassau Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gregory May says most violations are for extremely overpriced sanitizers or face masks that are sold individually when they should be sold in a sealed package.

"You don't know who's handling them, how they are handling them, how they are being stored previously, if they are opened on the counter," says May.

May says they've received 150 complaints and have issued 30 violations so far. Fines for price gouging can go up $5,000 per violation for a business.

If you suspect a business is price gouging, you're asked to call your county's office of Consumer Affairs immediately.

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