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COVID-19: Tips for Consumers from Travel Refunds to Student Loans

For Immediate Release

As documented cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) increase across Arizona, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund warns that consumers can expect to be faced with an escalating number of pandemic-related scams, hazards and financial challenges.

To help consumers navigate the fake products promising cures, price gouging preventing purchases of critical supplies, ongoing loan payments and travel cancellations, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund has prepared a set of guides for consumers, including those below:

Consumer Tip Guides

Seeking financial assistance to help pay utility bills

Due to the public health warnings associated with COVID-19, many more Arizonans are working from home and taking classes online. Without at least temporary relief and clear communication, Arizonans are likely to face even greater challenges paying utility bills for the foreseeable future. The guide provides recommendations for consumers, including where to seek utility bill assistance.

Refunding your travel during COVID-19

Calls for social distancing and limiting travel amidst the growing crisis have many Arizonans wondering how to recoup the costs from cancelled plans. The guide breaks down how top airlines and hotels have adjusted their policies and provides instructions for how consumers can refund their bookings with each respective company.

Avoiding price gouging during COVID-19

According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, Arizonans should be able to get the critical supplies they need without being ripped off. The guide warns consumers about severe price gouging on online marketplaces, namely Amazon, and includes information about how to identify reasonably priced, effective supplies during the outbreak.

Identifying COVID-19 phishing scams

As this pandemic intensifies, scammers have seized on people’s fear and confusion to steal their private and/or financial data. The guide lays out the known phishing scams related to COVID-19 and offers some tips for how consumers can identify new scams and protect themselves.

Paying off student debt during COVID-19

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, Americans were struggling to pay off the nearly $1.7 trillion owed in student loan debt. Nearly a third of borrowers were in default before -- and that number is likely to grow in the coming months as the COVID-19 pandemic grows more serious. With local, state and national leaders calling on people to limit social interactions, self-quarantine, and work from home, many Arizonans are facing reduced hours at work -- or no work at all. The guide offers potential ways to reduce student loan payments.

What to buy for the COVID-19 pandemic

Arizonans are clearing out store shelves as they stock up during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is enough food, but panic may leave a consumer without certain items needed or wanted during this time. The guide provides a list of foods that keep, foods that don’t, easily storable snacks and offers considerations for babies and toddlers, pets and the medicine cabinet.

Dos and don’ts of COVID-19 protection

There’s been a lot of misinformation circulating about how consumers can protect themselves from the COVID-19 outbreak, with some companies taking advantage of the crisis to market public health and cleaning products that do not work. The guide separates fact from fiction to keep consumers safe without falling victim to false claims.

25 activities for kids to make a positive impact from home

Many Arizonans are bracing for weeks of school closures and are searching for ways to make the most of this challenging period. To help parents grapple with the new realities of child-rearing during social distancing, we’ve come up with a list of 25 activities kids can do to make a positive impact from home.

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund plans to continue issuing tips for consumers on financial issues, product safety, food safety, scams and other threats and welcomes emails at info@arizonapirg.org with ideas on future guides. The organization also notes that government and corporate policies are rapidly changing and recommends searching the website of a specific entity if you are seeking their latest policy.

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