AUSTIN, Texas — During a coronavirus pandemic affecting people, businesses and organizations across the community, experts believe scammers are trying to take advantage of stressful times.
According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, they have already received reports of scams spreading in Texas related to the coronavirus.
These scams may be sent via text message, phone, email or social media in an attempt to "capitalize on solicitations for donations, promises of cures, tax refund claims, among other scams," according to the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT).
"As Texans, we live through catastrophic situations all the time – tornadoes, hurricanes, hail and flooding – but this is really a different kind of emotional event where anxiety levels are very high," said Camille Garcia, director of communications and public affairs for ICT.
The organization, which represents more than 400 companies, said their clients are also reporting scams.
However, it is possible to avoid being scammed. Here are some tips:
- Do not open attachments from unknown or suspicious emails
- If you receive a call or email asking for your personal or financial information, hang up or delete it immediately
- Verify a charity's authenticity before making donations
- Use the Better Business Bureau and online reviews to vet businesses
- If possible, pay with a card and not cash
In addition to the coronavirus, spring storms and the tax season provide scammers with opportunities to attack. Garcia said the public should take extra precautions and conduct thorough reviews before any money leaves their pockets.
“It is really a volatile time right now, not only here in our great state but across the world, so we just need to be very vigilant, we need to not be distracted, and we need to really protect ourselves," she said.
Texans who believe they have been scammed should call the attorney general's complaint line at 800-621-0508 or file a complaint online.
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