CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s Office issued a release this week stating that it has received more than 850 inquiries on specific consumer issued related to COVID-19 since mid-March.
“Our Consumer Protection Division remains active and ready to assist consumers year round, but our diligent staff is working with increased vigor now that COVID-19 has hit our state,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I urge consumers with any issues, don’t hesitate to call our office if they see anything suspicious.”
The release stated that the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline, at 1-800-368-8808, remains open to assist citizens who have any claims of price gouging, COVID-19 scams or any other ways in which bad actors may try to take advantage of consumers during the pandemic. Complaints can also be filed on the office’s website, according to the release.
The Attorney General’s Office said that among consumers’ inquiries and reports are questions about price gouging, particularly on household goods and groceries. The release stated that other popular concerns have involved landlord-tenant issues, vacation or event cancellations and the continued payment for services not received, such as daycare and gymnasium memberships.
The release stated that more than 30 of those reports have led to varying degrees of action. This includes subpoenas and numerous letters to businesses whose conduct may have violated the state’s price gouging law or landlords whose eviction threats may have underplayed the need for a court order, according to the release.
The Attorney General’s office also said that it has been monitoring scam activity to ensure that consumers are alerted to the latest coronavirus-related scams, including those involving utility imposters, stimulus check fraud and sham charities.
The office said that deceptive advertising of claims of “cures” for coronavirus have also circulated. For instance, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division sent a cease-and-desist letter to a business that claimed CBD oil could cure coronavirus.
The release stated that Attorney General Morrisey is reminding consumers to never give out personal, identifiable information without verifying the other person’s legitimacy, whether it be they were contacted via phone call, email or text message.