Be Aware of Scams

NEW SCAM ALERT

We’ve heard of residents receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from “County Health Services” saying that they have tested positive for COVID-19. In the case we heard about, the person had not been tested. THIS IS A SCAM.

This scam and others like it have fueled false rumors nationally that health departments are incorrectly counting cases among people who have not been tested. This is not true. These cases have been scams, and are not connected to our office or reported in our statistics.

As a reminder:
We will identify ourselves clearly as from the County of San Luis Obispo.
🚫 We will never ask for financial information or payment.
🚫 We will never ask for your social security number.
🚫 We will never ask about your immigration status.
Our team usually calls from numbers that begin with 805-781 or 805-788. We will leave a message if we don’t reach you; please call us back as soon as you can.

  • The State Attorney General has issued a press release regarding a scam in which persons impersonate contact tracers. 
  • We have received reports that a Phone Scam is occuring regarding the Food and Prescription Delivery Service. Callers are pretending to be County employees and asking residents if they are enrolled in the program. If they say yes, the caller says a gift card or money needs to be provided to purchase the groceries. We want to remind residents that this is a free program and if you receive a call from a County employee asking for money it is a scam. If you receive one of these calls, please report it to your local law enforcement agency. 
  • The County of San Luis Obispo recently became aware of cyber criminals impersonating some County staff by sending emails from username@slo-ca.us addresses.  This email address is very similar to existing, County email addresses that use the username@co.slo.ca.us.  If you discover any email correspondence with an @slo-ca.us address or any other similar address that is not exactly @co.slo.ca.us please contact County of SLO Information Security at it_infosec@co.slo.ca.us.
  • Consumers should also be aware of scammers posing as representatives of charities seeking donations for disaster relief. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from this type of fraud:
    • Donate to trusted, well-known charities. Beware of scammers who create fake charities during natural disasters. Always verify a charity's legitimacy through its official website. If you have doubts, you can check with Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar. You can also check with the National Association of State Charity Officials whether charities must be registered in your state and if the charity contacting you is on file with your state.
    • Verify all phone numbers for charities. If you need to contact a charity by phone, check the charity's official website to see if the number you have is legitimate. If you're using text-to-donate, check with the charity to ensure the number is legitimate before donating.
    • Do not open suspicious emails. If you receive a suspicious email requesting donations or other assistance, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Scammers regularly use email for phishing attacks and to spread malware.
    • Verify information in social media posts. Double-check any solicitation for charitable donations before you give. Crowd-funding websites often host individual requests for help but they are not always vetted by the site or other sources.
    •  You can also file a complaint with the FCC about phone scams, or with the FTC about fraud.
  • We have received reports of a Text Scam occurring that people are receiving a text that they have come into contact with someone exposed to COVID-19 and they need to self-isolate.  County Public Health will always contact you with a phone call first and will leave a message. In some cases, they may follow up with a text message.

Price Gouging

During the state of emergency, Penal Code section 396 prohibits businesses, retailers, and other service or goods providers from charging a price that is more than ten percent higher than the amount that existed before the declaration. Covered goods and services include food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, gasoline, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations, and rental housing. Goods and service providers may charge more than ten percent only if their costs have increased. 

Price gouging is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Violators may also be subject to civil enforcement actions and penalties up to $5,000 per violation, plus restitution.

SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow warns businesses and consumers against price gouging during an emergency.

Cal OES Divison of Legal Affairs-Price Gouging

State of California Attorney General FAQs on Price Gouging