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Michiganders are being warned of a new scam that targets residents who may be having issues paying rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office was made aware of the nationwide scam by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC says scammers are targeting families and individuals who may have found it necessary to seek assistance with rent payments because of a job loss or reduction of hours.

"COVID-19 has created an even greater opportunity for scammers to target people — people who are just trying to get help with paying their rent or taking care of other financial needs," The FTC said in a press release. "Scammers may call, email, or text, saying you can get money for rent. Or they may say they can get you legal help to avoid eviction."

The release goes on to say that scammers will then ask that you make direct payments to them and may also ask for personal information like a social security number or bank and credit card information.

The FTC warns that it's never a good idea to hand that information over. They also suggest researching any assistance programs found online by typing the name of the organization along with the word(s) complaint, scam, or fraud to see what others may be posting.

Nessel says her office has not yet received any complaints about such scams but warns residents to be diligent about avoiding scams.

“This pandemic has caused financial hardship for many Michiganders and provided scammers with an opportunity to use that desperate set of circumstances to their advantage," Nessel said.

 

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