Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today cautions Texans to be aware of scams in light of the statewide Coronavirus disaster declaration announced yesterday by Governor Abbott.
“Situations like this usually bring the best of our communities to the forefront with cooperation, aid, and compassion. Unfortunately, some criminals take advantage of troubling circumstances to steal from hard-working Texans,” said Attorney General Paxton. “As communities prepare to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and care for those in need, my office will work diligently to stop the scams perpetrated by those who look to take advantage of our citizens.”
In addition to price gouging and deceptive trade practices, cyber scams have been reported. Cyber actors may send emails with dangerous attachments or fraudulent website links intended to deceive citizens into revealing sensitive information or donating to false charities. Any social media posts or email with a Coronavirus (COVID-19) subject line, attachment or hyperlink should be treated with caution. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security 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.
Under state law, once the governor issues a disaster declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, medicine, lodging, and more. Currently, the disaster declaration is effective across the entire state, and under Texas consumer protection statutes, it is illegal for a person to take advantage of a disaster declaration by engaging in deceptive trade practices.
Texans who believe they have encountered disaster scams should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online. For additional information on disaster scams, please visit our disaster scams website.
For information on the spread or treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services.