By Brittany Anderson
Assistant Web Content Manager
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is cautioning Texans to be aware of scams in light of the statewide Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.
“Situations like this usually bring the best of our communities to the forefront with cooperation, aid and compassion,” Paxton said in a press release. “Unfortunately, some criminals take advantage of troubling circumstances to steal from hard-working Texans.”
On March 13, Governor Greg Abbott declared a statewide disaster in response to COVID-19. Currently, the declaration is effective across the entire state.
Price gouging and deceptive trade practices have been reported. Under Texas consumer protection statutes, it is illegal for vendors to take advantage of a disaster declaration by charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, medicine and lodging.
Additionally, there have been reports of cyber scams. Dangerous attachments or fraudulent website links are intended to deceive citizens into revealing sensitive information or donating to counterfeit charities. Any social media posts or emails with a Coronavirus (COVID-19) subject line, attachment or hyperlink should be treated with caution.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued these precautions:
● Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.
● Use trusted sources – such as legitimate, government websites – for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
● Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
● Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations.
Texans who believe they have encountered a disaster scam should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0509 or file a complaint online. For additional information on disaster scams, visit their website.
For information on the spread or treatment of COVID-19, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website.