Minnesota Department of Commerce shares tips to avoid scams

Published 4:05 pm Thursday, March 19, 2020

As the nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and consumers are settling into their homes with increased social connections by email, phone, mail and social media, the Department of Commerce is urging Minnesota consumers to be on alert for potential scams created to take advantage of the fear, isolation and uncertainty during this unprecedented time, according to a press release.

“First and foremost, consumers should not share any financial or other sensitive information with anyone who contacts them unsolicited,” Commissioner Steve Kelley said.

In addition, consumers should be asking the following questions about every email, phone call and piece of mail they receive because the answers could trigger potential red flags for fraud and scams:

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• Is the email, phone call or mail from someone you don’t know?

• Is the sender, caller or item offering you something that seems too good to be true?

• Is the sender, caller or item using language to incite fear or threaten you?

• Is the sender, caller or item urging you to “act now” before it’s too late?

• Is the sender, caller or item requesting payment from you and promising to give you something in return after your payment?

Minnesota consumers should be cautious. If there is doubt about the sender, caller or the idea being pitched — hang up. Delete the email. Recycle the mail.

At this time, the department does not have any reported cases of COVID-19 financial scams. If you have questions or if you believe you may have been the victim of a scam or fraud, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us.

It can also be reached by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602, but at this time, email is the most effective and efficient way to raise your concern with the department.