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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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,
- Home Again Homeowner Relief Program - Home Again seeks to educate Nevada residents on the housing resources that may or may not be available to them; and
- Utility/Energy Advocacy - participation in utility rate proceedings helps to ensure ratepayers receive reliable utility service at a reasonable cost.