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How to Watch Out for Scams

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 4/27/2020

Sadly, even during a time of crisis (and perhaps more so), there are people who will try to scam you. Below you’ll find a list of current coronavirus-related scams, as well as some tips on watching out for general scams. 
  • On usa.gov/common-scams-frauds, you can review a current list of coronavirus-related scams. For instance, fake charities tend to pop up during crises to try to steal your money, and some scammers will pretend to be the IRS to trick you into giving personal information or charging you fake fees for your stimulus check. Other current scams include people pretending to be your bank or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to, you guessed it, steal your bank or personal information, as well as scammers pretending to be a grandchild or military service member to fool you into wiring money to someone in need. Finally, beware of anyone claiming to have “home test kits” or cures/vaccines for COVID-19.
  • Do not answer or respond to phone calls and text messages from numbers you do not recognize. Scammers are often trying to record you saying “yes” to steal your personal information and to trick you into sending them money. If your cell phone has a screening feature, you can use that when a phone call comes up. Sometimes you can also Google the phone number that contacted you to find more information. Additionally, make sure you register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. (You can also call (888) 382-1222 to register over the phone.) After registering, you can safely assume telemarketing calls are scams.
  • Do not call unknown phone numbers back. Remember, if it’s important, they will leave a voicemail. Proceed with caution.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited requests for account or personal information, including PINs and access codes. If you get a call from someone who claims your credit card has been hacked, you can hang up, call the phone number on the back of your debit/credit card, and speak to your bank directly.
  • Do not click on unsolicited links until you can verify the source or request is legitimate. We’ve all heard about phishing scams, fake antivirus software, and fake software updates. External sources will send a link—either through email or text—asking you to log in to an account so they can gain your username and password. Sometimes scammers will send what appear to be legitimate attachments via email. By opening or clicking on these links and attachments, you might be giving away important information or allowing malicious software to be downloaded onto your computer.
  • When in doubt, don’t trust a source contacting you or requesting something of you. A common scam is to send spoofed emails in the name of someone in authority (your principal, an ATPE leader, etc.) and ask you to purchase and deliver gift cards. If you even have a slight suspicion, do not respond, and try to look up more information on your own. If an email with such a request purports to be from someone you know, reach out via another means—phone, text, an entirely new email—to confirm the request. (Is the superintendent really going to ask you to buy gift cards?) If it’s a scam? Report, block, and move on!
 For more information on scams, visit usa.gov/scams-and-frauds. And don’t forget to follow our Coronavirus FAQs and Resources page.