March 17, 2021
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today warned Michiganders again to beware of scammers claiming to be from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as well as local public health departments, calling residents to offer anything from medication and at-home COVID-19 tests to grants from the government while demanding personally identifiable information.
The latest reports focus on MDHHS in Bay County where a scammer said they were from the department and were calling to give out a $14,000 grant. The scammer then demanded that the “winner” provide their Social Security Number, date of birth and address to claim the funds.
Previous reports focused on the Ionia County Health Department and the Benzie Leelanau Public Health Department. As a result of continued attempts to gain the personal information of Michiganders, the Attorney General’s office reissued a consumer alert making residents aware of the situation earlier today.
“Scammers remain focused on taking advantage of the ongoing pandemic to gain access to your personal information. I cannot reiterate this enough: do not fall for these attempts. State and local health departments will never call you with threats or unrealistic demands that include you having to hand over information like your Social Security Number, birthdate or address,” said Nessel. “It is important to stay on high alert for these scams and I urge all Michiganders to utilize the resources our Consumer Protection Team has to offer as we are just one call or click away.”
To seem more official, scammers often use a process known as “spoofing” – when a call appears to be coming from a legitimate government phone number. The caller may also sound professional and be very persuasive.
Anyone who receives a phone call they suspect to be a scam should hang up the phone. No one should give out personal information to an unsolicited caller.
Residents should also be aware of online coronavirus vaccine scams. These attempts to obtain the personal information of consumers may include phone calls, text messages, emails or online posts pitching early access or other bogus promotions for a fee. Attorney General Nessel recently echoed the Federal Trade Commission’s tips on how to avoid these vaccine scams.
Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General’s website, or by calling 877-765-8388.