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Scammers taking aim at consumers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 9:05 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 22:56:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Consumers beware, a host of new scams aiming to take advantage of Hoosiers amid the global COVID-19 pandemic are making the rounds.

Both the Indiana Attorney General's Office and Indianapolis Power & Light on Thursday warned consumers about an uptick in reported payment scams.

"The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly left many Hoosiers feeling worried, scared or uncertain about the world around them," Attorney General Curtis Hill said in a statement. "Scammers capitalize on challenging times like this to prey on innocent consumers. Falling victim to a scam during this pandemic could have irreversible consequences."

One such scam has already been reported by customers of Indianapolis Power & Light. The utility company said customers have reported someone calling claiming to represent IPL and indicating that electric service would be disconnected. The scammer demands payment immediately or service will be disconnected within 30 minutes or soon thereafter.

IPL announced last week that disconnections are suspended through April 15 due to the spread of COVID-19. The utility company advised customers not to provide any personal information or comply with requests for payment. Customers should hang up and call IPL immediately at 317-261-8222 to verify if someone from IPL contacted them about their bill.

The attorney general's Consumer Protection Division is actively communicating with health departments, health clinics and retail outlets to stay on top of potential scams and concerns. Cyber scams involving emails or text messages related to the coronavirus have already been reported.

Hill's office offered tips to avoid phishing scams during the pandemic:

  • Be on alert for communications with dangerous attachments or fraudulent links
  • Treat any emails or texts with subject lines or information bout coronavirus with caution
  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments
  • Always verify the email addresses of those who send emails
  • Use trusted, legitimate government websites to obtain up-to-date information
  • Don't reveal personal or financial information via email or text message
  • Verify the authenticity of a charity before donating money