WACO, TX — More than 30 million Americans are now out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions more are spending most of their time at home, often online.
It’s an environment ripe for scams, according to consumer advocates like Amy Rasor with the Better Business Bureau.
“The criminals behind these, they’re really taking technology to the next level in most cases,” she said.
The BBB has seen one scam after another preying on Texans during the past two months when so many have felt so vulnerable.
“You’ll get an email with a link to a charity or to a possible job posting, and unfortunately those links are leading to non-legitimate persons trying to gather information,” she said.
So far, there have been more than 50 active COVID-19 scams targeting Texas since the beginning of the pandemic.
Across the country, the scam figure has reached an astounding 12,500. The biggest amount was an illegal haul of $130,000 ripped off of victims in Florida.
Rasor says they’re equally concerned about people donating to charities, especially this week with #GivingTuesdayNow expected to bring in millions for nonprofits across the country.
At the BBB website, it’s easy to track which scams are prevalent in specific areas of Texas, including those centering around charitable donations or COVID-19.
With more than two million Texans now filing for unemployment, the Texas Workforce Commission is also warning against scams.
“Don’t answer questions, ask questions,” said executive director Ed Serna.
Serna says if someone looking for a job gets a sudden phone call, or find a link online through a third-party asking for personal information to file for unemployment, be weary.
“They say, "Just complete this and we’ll get it to Texas or whatever state." Don’t do that. You’ve just given your name, your social security, your home address, you’ve given all that to a scammer,” said Serna.
The only way to safely file for unemployment in Texas is through a call center at 800-939-6631 , or online at www.twc.texas.gov.
If someone says otherwise, Serna says that’s a big red flag.