RIAG COVID-19 Resource Guide

Information, guidance, tips, and links to help you access what you need during the COVID-19 emergency.
We remain open and ready to serve to the public

“A central part of our mission is and remains public safety,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “We are taking important steps, in line with recommendations by the CDC and RIDOH, to protect our employees and the members of the public that we serve. We remain fully open and able to respond to the public during this time.”

Effective March 16, 2020, our office has implemented alternative work schedules for employees and specific guidance for many of our public services in the interest of public health and safety.

Protect yourself against scams

Watch out for scammers seeking to take advantage of you during uncertain and challenging times. Use these helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam:

  • Be wary of emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO). These organizations will not be contacting you directly. Visit www.cdc.gov or www.who.org for health-related information.

  • There is currently no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Any offer promising a vaccination or treatment is a scam.

  • The federal government has begun to issue stimulus payments to Rhode Islanders. The IRS and FTC are good sources for stimulus check information. Remember:

  • The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.
  • The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does so is a scammer.

  • Thoroughly check out any charity or organization seeking donations for COVID-19 related causes. Someone asking for donations - particularly in cash, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards - to help victims of COVID-19, or for "research" into finding a vaccine or cure, is likely a scammer.

  • Look out for scam "investment opportunities." The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued an investor alert. Before making any type of investment regarding stock in any company, you should contact a legitimate investment company.

  • Beware of online or unsolicited calls or emails from individuals posing as government officials. Do not provide personal information (such as social security number, date of birth, etc.) to unsolicited callers.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, contact our Consumer Protection Unit at (401) 274-4400, email consumers@riag.ri.gov or fill out an online complaint form.
How to report price gouging

Do prices on essential items seem much higher than usual? Businesses are prohibited from increasing the price of any essential commodity to an "unconscionably high price" immediately before or during a declared state of emergency.  This practice is known as price gouging and it is illegal in Rhode Island.

If you notice or suspect price gouging, or think you have been a victim, contact our Consumer Protection Unit at (401) 274-4400, email consumers@riag.ri.gov , or fill out an online complaint form .
Protecting your stimulus check from creditors

Debt collectors cannot garnish/seize your federal stimulus check . We're prepared to enforce the law & protect Rhode Islanders from unlawful collection practices. Our office also issued guidance to creditors, debt collectors and financial institutions reminding them that these payments are exempt from garnishment or seizure.

If your federal stimulus payment has been targeted, contact our Consumer Protection Unit at (401) 274-4400, email consumers@riag.ri.gov , or fill out an online complaint form .
AG Customer Service Center:
Background checks, concealed carry, lobby protocols

IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT STATE AND NATIONAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

Effective Monday, May 11, 2020, we have a new TEMPORARY check-in process for IN-PERSON transactions at the Office of Attorney General Customer Service Center in Cranston.

Upon arriving in the parking lot:
  1. Begin check-in registration online by accessing https://connect.lrsus.com/ws/BCI. Checking in reserves your spot in a virtual line. The Customer Service Center is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  2. Customer service center staff will notify you via text message when to come inside for your transaction. Please do not enter the lobby until you are notified.
  3. Individuals without access to the internet should call 401-274-4400 and select option 2 to make an appointment.

***This is not an advanced reservation system. Online registration is on-site only and can only be used once a person arrives into the AG Customer Center parking lot.***

License to carry concealed weapon permits:

  • Applications/renewals will continue to be accepted by mail only
  • Applications will be processed, however, permit cards will not be available for pickup at this time. A temporary paper permit will be mailed for use until normal BCI operations resume.

*NOTE: Background checks for firearm sales are conducted by local police departments and the Rhode Island State Police. The timeline for background checks has been extended to 30 days by executive order due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Thank you for cooperating with these guidelines. If you plan to visit our customer service center, please follow these recommendations:

  • Take advantage of using hand sanitizer, available at our customer service windows, before conducting any transaction.
  • Use a credit card for any transaction to limit the amount of hand-to-hand contact. BCI will not be accepting checks or money orders during this emergency.
  • We have a large lobby area. Keep at least six feet of space between fellow customers and do not crowd.
RIAG Diversion Cases

All communication between our diversion team/caseworkers and members of the public will occur by phone and email. Contact the diversion team with questions at (401) 274-4400.
Victim Services

All communication between the victim services team/advocates and members of the public will be conducted by phone, email, or mail. Contact our victim services team with questions at (401) 274-4400 ex. 2277.
A guide to Open Government modifications

Now, more than ever, Rhode Islanders need to have trust and confidence in their government. We encourage public bodies and agencies to continue to operate as openly and transparently as possible during this time.

On June 12, 2020 (extended on previously), Governor Raimondo issued an executive order that modified certain provisions of the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) and Access to Public Records Act (“APRA”) as part of the State’s emergency response to COVID-19.


Contact our open government team with your questions and for guidance at (401) 274-4400 or opengovernment@riag.ri.gov .
No utility shut-offs

Concerned about utility shut-offs, or gas and electric bills being sent into collections? The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission has placed a moratorium on all electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utility shut-offs for reasons of non-payment through July 17, 2020. Also, collections activities - sending past due accounts to collections agencies and sending termination notices with disconnection dates prior to the end of July 17 - are disallowed.
 
Questions? Contact our consumer protection team by calling (401) 274-4400 or emailing consumers@riag.ri.gov .
Health insurance information

Rhode Island has mandated several health insurance provisions during this state of emergency:

Employment Issues
Contact the RI Department of Labor and Training for COVID-19 related employment issues.

Evictions

Worried about being evicted? State courts will not process any new residential or commercial evictions through June 1, 2020. Self-help evictions are illegal.

Public housing residents with questions can contact Rhode Island Legal Services at (401) 274-2652 x123.

Tenants in private rental housing can call the Rhode Island Center for Justice at (401) 491-1101.
Rhode Island's Civil Rights Advocate

Do you think your civil rights have been violated? The Office of the Attorney General works to promote equal rights for all Rhode Islanders and responds to complaints related to civil rights violations through its Civil Rights Advocate . Discrimination or harassment based on race or ethnicity is illegal in Rhode Island. If you have witnessed or have been the target of discrimination, harassment or violence motivated by race or national origin, or if you have questions about the community resources available, we want to hear from you:

Guidance on Payment Protections for Rhode Island Student Loan Borrowers

AG Neronha issued guidance to student loan borrowers on the new protections available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 130,000 Rhode Islanders owe more than $4.5 billion in student loan debt. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these challenges for those who were already struggling to keep up with their loan payments.

The following measures last until September 30 and are retroactive to March 13 for federally held student loans:

  • Payment postponement
  • Interest waiver
  • Suspention of collection activities
  • No negative credit information will be sent to Credit Reporting Agencies
  • Loan forgiveness program or loan rehabilitation program qualified time
 
While the CARES Act does not provide relief for non-federal loans, many holders and servicers are offering additional relief options on a voluntary basis. Borrowers should contact their servicer to find out what options are available.
 
Concerns about student loan payments can be directed to the RIAG Consumer Protection team at 401-274-4400 or studentloans@riag.ri.gov .
 
Additional Resources
Information subject to change as necessary.
RI Attorney General | www.riag.ri.gov