The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has reported that imposters are actively attempting to file false claims to receive benefits during the COVID-19 crisis by using personal information that doesn't belong to them.
If you are concerned that you might be a victim of identity theft,
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning Michigan residents to beware of scam artists and price-gougers who will try to take advantage of desperate home and vehicle owners in the next several days and weeks. Of particular concern are reports of price-gouging by towing companies that have towed cars out of flooded roadways and impounded them - as well as fly-by-night contractors offering to help homeowners clean up after the weekend storms.
"I am concerned that bad actors may use the weekend's flooding to overcharge or scam people who need assistance," Nessel said. "Our Consumer Protection team is committed to investigating complaints and I encourage people to contact our office if you believe an entity is engaging in price gouging or other fraudulent behavior. We stand ready to hold accountable anyone who attempts to take advantage of this devastating situation."
Nessel re-issued three consumer alerts related to natural disasters after the Department learned of complaints about possible price-gouging by towing companies recovering vehicles that were abandoned during flooding in Southeast Michigan. There are hundreds of abandoned vehicles through Southeast Michigan following recent rains that caused significant flooding and damage.
The Consumer Protection team helps protect Michigan residents from bad actors who have one primary goal: to trick us out of our hard-earned money. As technology advances, they get more creative with their approach. They prey on anyone vulnerable - especially seniors.
Consumer Protection handles 10,000 consumer complaints each year, provides numerous educational resources online, and issues consumer alerts on scams, data breaches and any other consumer-related issue our residents should be aware of.
My Office of Public Information and Education and the Consumer Protection team is also instrumental in leading our initiative to crack down on the overwhelming amount of robocalls we all receive each day, and with an estimated 1.5 billion calls to Michigan residents in 2019 – that support is necessary.
The Act does not:
The Attorney General's office helps consumers by informally mediating complaints. In many cases, this assistance will help you resolve your problem.
When we receive your complaint, we will send you a confirmation receipt with your assigned Attorney General file number. We receive thousands of complaints, so it may take a few weeks until your complaint is fully processed.
Our process includes a letter from our Consumer Protection team to the business or individual identified in your complaint. A copy of your complaint and submitted materials will be included with a request for a response. We will contact you in writing after we have received a reply. If we do not hear back from the business or individual identified in your complaint within 30 days, we will recontact them regarding your complaint.
In some cases, we may be unable to get any cooperation from the business or individual. If they refuse to respond, we will confirm this to you in writing. If our mediation is not successful, the Attorney General cannot act as a private attorney on your behalf. You may then want to consider filing suit in Small Claims Court or consulting with a private attorney to review your legal options.
Scammers have one goal: to get your personal -- especially financial -- information. Scams will always include one or more of the following tactics:
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) warned Michigan residents to watch for scams related to the coronavirus disease 2019. These scams include websites selling fake products, and fabricated emails, texts and social media posts used to steal money and personal information.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips along with phony information about cases in residents’ neighborhoods. They may also ask for donations to victims, provide advice on unproven treatments or contain damaging attachments.
When someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to file a phony tax return and claim your refund, that’s tax-related identity theft. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is often the first to let you know your identity has been stolen. In other cases, you may first learn of the fraud from some other unexpected source, like when you are turned down for a loan because a fake return was filed reporting an income less than what you actually earn.