ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – The Better Business Bureau recently published a report on “government impostor scams” and how many are falling victim during the pandemic. According to the Bureau, scammers are taking advantage of the confusion surrounding COVID-19 and posing as government employees.
According to the Basin’s Senior Regional Director, Heather Massey, the report says that nationally, these scams are decreasing but, scammers are finding new ways to target consumers during the pandemic by targeting CARES funds or impersonating CDC officials. An AARP survey quoted in the report states that 44% of people in the U.S. have been contacted by a government impostor.
While these types of scams are decreasing across the nation, Texas has seen a 35% increase just in the first six months of 2020. 10% of all government impostor scam reports made to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker in 2019 were from Texas. One person that already fell victim to this scam in 2020 lost $300,000, according to Massey.
The Bureau says the best thing you can do to recognize these scams is to watch for red flags and do your research. Some red flags may be if someone is asking you to pay a fee before receiving money or if they are putting pressure on you to give personal information. Outstanding debt is another area scammers prey on but if you owe a government agency money, you can always contact them directly if you receive a suspicious notice. Heather Massey says, if a government agency needs to contact you, they will reach out by mail first. Massey also says never to trust caller ID but to verify the agencies official phone number.
If you believe a scammer has contacted you, report it to the Better Business Bureau through their Scam Tracker. You can also report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FTC or with the agency the scammer was posing as. For more information or to read the full report, visit the Bureau’s website.