Beware scamming and profiteering during the coronavirus crisis

Twin Cities law firm Hellmuth & Johnson says businesses and individuals need to be wary.

By Anne T. Regan, of Hellmuth & Johnson

Disorienting. Fluid. Challenging. All apt words to describe the past weeks. As if it’s not hard enough to keep up and interpret what executive orders and emergency legislation mean for you, your family, and your business, all of us are unfortunately vulnerable to profiteering and fraud in times like these.

Some scams are obvious, like price gouging. We know it when we see it: A distributor or retailer starts selling thirty cent masks for $3 apiece, or the online seller’s pricing algorithm doubles the price of hand sanitizer over a matter of hours. State attorneys general have stepped up enforcement efforts to curb these practices. If you believe your business was damaged by a price gouging scheme, contact us for a free consultation.

Another area where government regulators have seen an uptick in complaints is travel and vacation refunds and cancellations. Many airlines waived change fees and offered e-credits or refunds for unused tickets – the right thing to do. Be on the lookout when you redeem those credits that you’re not being charged a higher ticket price than someone who is not redeeming a credit. And if your vacation or travel insurance is refusing to honor the "impossibility" or "force majeure" clause in your contract, contact us to see what remedies you might have.

And, then, finally – be aware of data and identity profiteering. As millions of students, from elementary to college age, begin the biggest digital learning experiment in history, remember that not all of the tools used to deliver content on line have been fully tested and used on the scale they will be over the next several months. Security vulnerabilities and non-transparent data mining schemes abound. If you think your child’s online data has been unlawfully exposed or used, don’t hesitate to contact us to see what can be done about it.

If you have concerns about COVID-19 negatively affecting your business, employees, or personal life, we are here to help.

Contact Hellmuth & Johnson at (952) 941-4005 or by online form here.

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