Scams and Tips
Attorney General Ford is committed to protecting your pocket and identity from fraudsters and believes that every Nevadan's first line of defense is education. Every day, members of his Bureau of Consumer Protection work hard to protect your rights and keep you safe from fraudsters. They alert Nevadans about the latest scams, they fight data breaches, they work with individuals and businesses to protect your rights, they work with other states to protect shared interests, and so much more.
One of the biggest hardships Nevadans face is fighting scams. There are many scams out there and new ways fraudsters are finding to take your money. We have compiled a list of some of the most common scams, along with tips every Nevadan can follow to protect their consumer rights and guard themselves against scams.
Reporting a Scam
As a Nevadan, you are one of our best resources for finding out about scams. If you have been scammed or know of suspicious activity, please report it to our office in the form of a complaint.
Complaints should be filed:
- On the Attorney General's website here; or
- By contacting the Bureau of Consumer Protection's hotline toll free at (888) 434-9989.
Covid-19 Related Scams: Many scammers have taken advantage of the pandemic and are finding new ways to scam people out of their hard-earned money. Below are some of the most common scams and tips on how to avoid falling victim.
Covid-19 Related Scams
- Stimulus Checks/Emergency Funding
- Scammers attempt to steal personal information or money by posing as government entities distributing stimulus checks or emergency funding.
- Tip: A government entity will not contact you by phone, mail, text message or social media with information about your individual stimulus payment/emergency funding. You will not have to pay a fee to get funding.
- At-home Testing Kits
- Scammers go door-to-door offering at home COVID-19 testing or antibody kits.
- Tip: Only request and receive COVID-19 test from a medical professional at an established medical facility.
- Vaccination Cards
- Fraudulent vaccination cards are being created and sold. These cards are used to falsely state that an individual has been vaccinated.
- Tip: Visit an official COVID-19 vaccine site to receive your vaccine from a qualified professional. To find a location to receive your dose, visit vaccine.gov.
- Contact-Tracing Scams
- Scammers posing as employees of government health departments are contacting consumers to steal their personal information under the guise of a COVID-19 contact-tracing call or text.
- Tip: Contact tracers will not ask for money, credit card numbers, bank account information, or your Social Security number.
- Miracle Treatments and Cures for COVID-19
- Scammers present a variety of products, including medications, herbal teas, supplements, or vitamins, claiming that they will cure COVID-19.
- Tip: There is no miracle cure for COVID-19. Therefore, be suspicious if anyone suggests that there is. The vaccination is now publicly available. To find out where you can get the vaccine, visit vaccine.gov.
- CDC Imposter Scams
- The scammer poses as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) employee and ask for "donations."
- Tip: The CDC is a federal government agency that does not ask for donations from the public.
General Scams Related to Identity Theft, Imposter, Debt Collection, and Scams to Obtain Money:
- Debt Collection Scams
- When you owe a debt, that debt may be sent to a collections agency. While there are some legitimate debt collection companies, scammers may try to get you to pay on amounts that you do not owe or that do not even exist.
- Tip: You are entitled to certain information about a debt, including the name of the creditor and the amount owed. If you dispute the debt the debt collector will have to obtain verification of the debt.
- Romance Scams
- The scammer poses as friend/love interest on social media or dating apps and tricks the victim into giving the scammer money once the scammer has gained the trust of the victim.
- Tip: Do not give personal account information or money to someone you do not know, including those you meet online.
- IRS Imposter Scams
- The scammer contacts the victim via phone, email, or mail claiming that the victim owes back-taxes and will be penalized if he or she doesn't pay immediately.
- Tip: Actual IRS representatives will not ask for payments with prepaid cards or gift cards and will have your confidential IRS authentication number.
- Social Security Imposter Scams
- The scammer contacts victims claiming to be a Social Security office representative and claims the victim's Social Security number has been compromised or canceled.
- Tip: A Social Security office representative will never threaten or pressure a person for personal information, and your number cannot be canceled.
- Tech Support Scam
- Scammers in a tech support scam will contact you claiming that you have a problem with your computer that does not exist in an attempt to steal your money or personal information.
- Tip: If you think there may be a problem on your computer, update your software and run an antivirus program to identify any problems. Security pop-up warnings will never prompt you to call a phone number.
- Grandparent Scam
- Scammers pretend to be your grandchild or other family member in an attempt to trick you into sending money. The person may claim to be stranded, arrested, or in need of money for another kind of emergency.
- Tip: Before sending money to anyone claiming to be related to you, try to contact the person or someone who is close to the family member at a number you know belongs to the person you are trying to reach to confirm the information.
- Utilities Scam
- Someone posing as a representative of a utility company threatens to shut off your utilities unless you send payment immediately, often by alternative means, such as gift card or wire transfer.
- Tip: Before your utilities are shut off for non-payment, the utility company will send you multiple notices by other means with advance notice.
- Residential Rooftop Solar Scams
- Scammers make promises regarding the benefits of solar
that are not included in the written residential rooftop solar contract.
For example, scammers may promise you that you will never receive another
energy bill again if you purchase residential rooftop solar.
- Tip: You will always receive an energy bill from a
utility provider when contracted to use energy from that utility
provider. While residential rooftop solar may help reduce the amount you
pay for the energy you use, it will never eliminate the receipt of an
energy bill from the contracted utility provider. Always read the
residential rooftop solar contract thoroughly as the contract you are
being asked to sign is controlling.
- Residential Rooftop Solar and Imposter
- Medicare Scam
- Unscrupulous individuals contact you attempting to obtain your Medicare number so that they can use it to commit Medicare fraud.
- Tip: Medicare will not contact you via phone to ask for your Medicare number unless you have given permission to do so in advance.
- Charity Scams
- Charity fraud scams solicit donations for charities that do little or no work for the cause they claim to support.
- Tip: Do your research on any organization to which you wish to donate and only donate to charities that you know and trust.
- Notario or Unauthorized Practice of Law Scams
- Someone who is not licensed to practice law or who is not an accredited representative with the Department of Justice claims that they can assist you with immigration, tax, document preparation, or other legal issues.
- Tip: Ask for documentation that the individual is licensed to practice law or is accredited by the Department of Justice. You can verify this information on the state bar website or on the DOJ's website.
- Notario and Immigration
- Ticket Sales
- Scammers use social media platforms and websites that appear legitimate to advertise events that they never intend to host or make counterfeit duplicates of tickets to real events.
- Tip: Whenever possible, use a credit card to pay for any event ticket. Using a credit card may afford you the option of stopping payment or requesting a refund through your credit card company. With cash, there is no way to get your money back.
- A robocall is a call with a pre-recorded message instead of a live person. The message may try to sell you something or request you provide information - sometimes sensitive information.
- Tip: Block the call by calling the carrier or by downloading an anti-scam application. You can also block numbers directly on most smart phones without downloading a program. Do not press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other number, and do not provide any personal information.
- Scammer's use of fraudulent emails or copycat websites that appear to be valid and from well-known sources such as an Internet provider, mortgage company, or bank. The email or website is the scammer's attempt to trick the victim into clicking on the emails or otherwise stealing the victim's identity.
- Tip: To protect yourself from phishing scams, use the most up-to-date security software, a multi-step authentication, and avoid clicking on suspicious emails. Look for clues such as spelling mistakes in the body of the email or any abnormal requests.
- "Smishing" is like phishing, but in the form of a text message. "Phishing" is a message sent by a scammer made to look like it is coming from a legitimate source such as your bank, but is designed by a scammer to attempt to steal personal or financial information from you. The word smishing comes from combining "SMS" -the technology behind texting - with the word phishing,
- Tip: Do not click on any links or otherwise respond to text messages from unknown sources, even if they appear to be from a legitimate entity or business. Instead, find the verified phone number of the entity online and contact them directly to ask whether the text message is legitimate or a smishing scam.
- "Vishing" is like phishing, but instead of being perpetrated through an email, the scammer calls the target on the phone. In a vishing attack, a scammer will call their target and try to get them to reveal their personal information, send money, or both. The word "vishing" comes from combining the words "voice" and "phishing."
- Tip: If you get a call from an unknown source, it is usually best to hang up the phone. If the caller said they were from an entity like the IRS or your bank, do not take them at their word. Instead, look up the verified address online and call that number back to ask about the legitimacy of the call you received. Donot share any sensitive or personal information with an unknown caller, especially if the caller requests any information from you to confirm who you are before proceeding with the call.
- Cryptocurrency Scams
- Scammers are creating fraudulent exchange platforms that link directly to the scammer's bank account.
- Tip: Remember that cryptocurrency is simply digital money - so any scam involving the concept of money can also involve cryptocurrency. When using a new currency exchange platform, verify the legitimacy of the platform before buying cryptocurrency.
- NFT Scams (non-fungible tokens)
- Scammers have set up fraudulent NFT online stores, often showing popular art or other digital assets at heavily reduced prices. While the consumer thinks they may be getting a deal by purchasing a popular NFT at the little known online store, the scammer is preparing to take their money and run.
- Tip: Only purchase NFTs from reputable online stored that you have verified are legitimate. If you are thinking you are getting a great deal on an NFT that is going for a much higher price on a differing website, it's possible that you have encountered a fraudulent NFT online store.
- QR Code (quick response codes) Scams
- Scammers will create fraudulent QR codes or even physically replace QR codes at popular establishment in an attempt to direct you to fraudulent websites that ask for your personal information.
- Tip: Be cautious of what QR codes you use and where you obtain them from. If it appears the QR code has been tampered with, avoid using it. Simultaneously, verify the legitimacy of the website that the QR code is directing you to.
- Malware is a general term for a program that is designed to harm or exploit any kind of electronic device, service, or network. Examples of malware include malicious software, viruses, worms, ransomware, and spyware. Criminals use these programs to steal personal or financial information or assume control of a device or network.
- Tip: Protect your devices by keeping them up-to-date with the latest software. Avoid clicking on suspicious links contained in emails or text messages.
- Spam is an unsolicited commercial email or message sent to multiple users who did not request them. In addition to being an annoyance, spam can contain viruses, harmful links, or unwelcome content.
- Tip: While spam is nearly impossible to avoid, you can cut the amount you receive down by activating spam filters on your email and not providing your email addresses to commercial entities.
- A skimmer is a device hidden within a legitimate card reader that is used to capture data from someone's credit or debit card when they swipe. Some skimming devices may also contain cameras to capture PINs or other information that will help the thief use the card.
- Tip: Check for evidence of tampering on the payment device and trust your gut if something doesn't feel right. Avoid using debit cards at card readers when possible, and check your statements for unauthorized transactions.
- Data Breaches
- A data breach is the unauthorized access or disclosure of confidential or private information from a protected digital environment. The access can be from an internal or external source (commonly referred to as a hacker).
- Tip: In modern times, no one is completely protected from a data breach. To protect your data, use strong, unique passwords for every account you create and use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Consider freezing your credit with all three major credit bureaus to prevent those who have stolen your information from creating accounts in your name.
Considerations for Residential Rooftop Solar under Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practice Act - FAQs
- Considering Residential Rooftop Solar?
The Attorney General's Office does not take a position on the purchase and installation of residential rooftop solar. The decision to purchase residential rooftop solar for your home is an individual one and should be done after review and consideration of the laws governing contracts used to obtain residential rooftop solar (also known as a Distributed Generation System) under Nevada's Deceptive Trade Practices Act, NRS Chapter 598, as well as the contract itself and any other information at the time of sale.
- How should I go about selecting a residential rooftop solar contractor?
The Attorney General's Office recommends that you use a contractor licensed by the Nevada State Contractor's Board to purchase or install residential rooftop solar found here. You may also wish to ensure the contractor is licensed with the Nevada Secretary of State by checking here. The Attorney General's Office further recommends that you review, read, and understand your contract, as well as your rights under Nevada's Deceptive Trade Practices Act, NRS Chapter 598, before entering into and signing a contract.
- Will I still have an energy bill if I get solar?
Yes, you will always receive an energy bill from a utility provider when contracted to use energy from that utility provider. While residential rooftop solar may help reduce the amount you pay for the energy you use, it will never eliminate the receipt of an energy bill from the contracted utility provider.
- Will my energy bill be reduced after getting solar?
While the answer is often yes, it is important to consider several factors in determining your savings including:
- The cost of your energy bill;
- How much sunlight exposure your house receives;
- The cost of solar panels; and
- Whether and what incentives are offered in the contract.
- Will I receive an incentive, rebate, or tax credit for getting residential rooftop solar?
Incentives, rebates, or tax credits may be available. It is important to verify the information you are provided about the availability of the incentive, rebate, or tax credit before entering into and signing a contract.
Your utility may offer you an incentive for getting residential rooftop solar. Please note, at this time, NV Energy does not offer any incentives for private residential rooftop solar. Please refer to this link to NV Energy for additional information.
Currently, you may qualify for an investment tax credit (ITC) through the federal government of approximately 26% of the cost for residential rooftop solar systems installed between 2020 and 2022. Currently, the percentage of the credit will be reduced to approximately 22% in 2023 and is scheduled to expire in 2024 unless renewed by Congress. You can refer to this link for additional information. It is also recommended that you check with your tax professional or an attorney to determine if you qualify for any tax credits.
Remember that just because an incentive, rebate, or tax credit exists does not mean you will receive that incentive, rebate, or tax credit for residential rooftop solar. Thoroughly read the disclaimers in your contract and consult with an attorney or tax professional, not simply the sales representative, to confirm that you are eligible to receive an incentive, rebate, or tax credit.
- What should I consider before purchasing and installing residential rooftop solar?
Consider the following before purchasing or installing rooftop solar?
- Do not feel pressured or rushed to sign any document, including a contract, by a sales or company representative - take your time and review, read, and understand the contract or seek the advice of an attorney or professional to assist you.
- Do not purchase residential rooftop solar from any sales or company representative that states they are selling residential rooftop solar on behalf of a government-related entity.
- Ensure the contract you enter into conforms to the requirements of Nevada's Deceptive Trade Practices Act (NRS chapter 598), found in NRS 598.9801 to 598.9822. We recommend you take your time to review, read, and understand the contract or seek the advice of an attorney or professional to assist you.
- Be cautious of representations that you will not receive an energy bill from your utility provider if you get residential rooftop solar - this claim is not accurate.
- Be cautious of representations that the residential rooftop solar will be "free" or that you will pay an amount that is less than what is in the written contract - these claims are inaccurate.
- Do I have a right to rescind my residential rooftop solar contract after I entered into the contract?
Yes, NRS 598.230 provides a three-day right of recission for any buyer who enters into or signed a door-to-door sales contract for residential rooftop solar in which the total purchase price is $25.00 or more. The buyer may rescind the contract by giving written notice to the seller by delivering the notice no later than midnight of the third business day after the sales contract was entered into or signed.
NRS 598.250 requires the three-day Notice of Cancellation to be provided to the buyer by the seller and attached to the contract or receipt.
- Is the output of a residential rooftop solar system guaranteed (i.e., the amount of energy created by solar panels)?
Your contract will include a provision regarding any guaranty about the residential rooftop solar system you are considering purchasing. Please review, read, and understand your contract thoroughly before signing or entering into the contract. If a sales representative has made a representation or guaranty to you orally, ensure that the oral representation or guaranty is included in the contract. Consider consulting with an attorney or professional prior to entering into or signing a contract.
- Do changes in weather affect how much energy a residential rooftop solar system produces?
Yes, because solar operates by exposure to sunlight, the amount and strength of the sunlight solar is exposed to throughout any given day affects the amount of energy a residential rooftop solar system produces. As sunlight shines on the panels, the photons are converted into electrons through photovoltaic cells in the solar panels. What this means is that changes in weather - and ultimately changes in the exposure of solar panels to sunlight - will affect the energy produced. Additionally, depending on the terms in the contract for rooftop solar regarding sunlight and weather, changes in exposure time or weather may affect the amount a consumer would pay each month.
- Where can I learn more about my rights as a consumer in making a decision to purchase residential rooftop solar?
You can learn more about your rights in making a decision to purchase residential rooftop solar (also known as Distributed Generation Systems) by reviewing Nevada's Deceptive Trade Practices Act (NRS 598), found in NRS 598.9801 to 598.9822. You can also learn more by reviewing Nevada's Renewable Energy Bill of Rights here.
- What companies will I interact with if I choose to buy residential rooftop solar?
You may interact with multiple companies, as each may play a part in the residential rooftop solar transaction. You may interact with a sales representative employed a third-party dealer, who is hired to sell residential rooftop solar but does not install it. You may also interact with the residential rooftop solar installation company. Lastly, you may interact with a separate finance company if you decide to finance your residential rooftop solar.
- What can you do if you suspect a residential rooftop solar company or installation company violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act (NRS 598)?
If you suspect that a residential rooftop solar company, installation company, financing company, or third-party dealer involved in the solar transition violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act (NRS 598), you may file a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection here.
Bureau of Consumer Protection
The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection is under the direction of Nevada's Consumer Advocate, and has the statutory authority under Nevada's consumer protection laws to prosecute criminal and civil cases.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection currently enforces laws and reviews complaints from four primary areas:
- Deceptive Trade - Enforcement of deceptive trade practices helps to prevent consumers from being injured or deceived in consumer transactions;
- Unfair Trade Practices (Antitrust) - Enforcement of unfair trade practices helps to reduce the economic harm to consumers as a result of undue market power; and
- Utility/Energy Advocacy - participation in utility rate proceedings helps to ensure ratepayers receive reliable utility service at a reasonable cost.