Nevadans cautioned to stay alert to avoid debt relief scams, fraudulent cures, treatments and vaccines

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hand holding megaphone against blackboard with word SCAM and warning sign

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — If you received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford’s office warns Nevadans to stay alert to businesses that may solicit services promising more than they can deliver.

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed throughout the country, AG Ford also asks Nevadans to remain cautious to avoid fraudulent cures, treatments and vaccines.

Nevada Attorney General (AG) Aaron D. Ford warns regarding the Paycheck Protection program, “Illegitimate debt relief companies take advantage of small business owners who are struggling to make payroll, or pay a lease or mortgage on top of mountains of bills.”

 “Seek assistance from reputable organizations or businesses to deal with debt or negotiate on your own,” added AG Ford.

AG Ford recommends speaking to your creditors directly to negotiate a modified payment plan or seek credit counseling or asking someone you trust for a referral for services, always doing your own research.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

Scam debt relief companies promise consumers to pay, settle, or eliminate their debts for an up-front fee. However, over time, these companies do not pay consumers’ accounts, leaving consumers in default, with damaged credit scores and potentially facing lawsuits from creditors.

If you decide to work with a for-profit debt relief service, the Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following tips to help you decide:

  • Be alert if a company asks you to pay fees up front before it settles your debt or places you in a debt management plan.
  • Be on guard if the company promises to stop all debt collection calls and lawsuits. No one can guarantee to make your unsecured debt go away, or guarantee your unsecured debts can be paid off for pennies on the dollar.
  • Do not provide your financial information, such as credit card account numbers and balances, before you have had a chance to contract with the company and have done your homework on its legitimacy – even if they are claiming to be from a government agency such as the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Avoid organizations that try to enroll you in a debt relief program or in a debt management plan without reviewing your financial situation or teaching you about money management.

If you have encountered a debt relief company that you believe is legitimate, AG Ford asks that you file a complaint with his office or with the Federal Trade Commission

COVID-19 CURES AND VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved emergency use for various COVID-19 vaccines.

While the federal and local governments are working together to make these vaccines available to various members of the public, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol have issued warnings about fake vaccine distribution scams in which scammers are using email and messaging apps promising to deliver shots within days for a fee.

Some of the vaccines are also being offered on the dark web. AG Ford says consumers should also be on alert for black market or fake vaccines.

The Nevada Office Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following tips to identify misleading health claims:

  • Receive your vaccination at a certified vaccination center or by a certified healthcare provider, not online.
  • Be suspicious, if a product claims to treat a wide range of diseases.
  • Stick to credible sources for information rather than unknown journals, websites, or social media platforms.
  • Be on alert of any product advertised as a “quick fix.” Many diseases and conditions take time to treat.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

At this time, vaccines will be administered by local health districts, hospitals and pharmacies.

If you have a question about a treatment or test you found online, your health care provider or doctor is the best source of information. If you have questions about a medication, you are advised to speak to your pharmacist.

For inquiries on the safety or efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, please speak with your healthcare provider and consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

If you feel you have encountered a fraudulent COVID-19 cure, treatment, or vaccine, please file a complaint with our office

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