As Covid-19 continues to affect Texans, it is a great time to remember tried and true tips for smart consumers. While most businesses have shown their tenacity and dedication in handling the evolving challenges presented by the situation, some businesses and individuals have attempted to use this difficult time  to their advantage. The Attorney General’s office has seen some common scams becoming even more prevalent, including work at home scams, pet scams or puppy scams, and pyramid schemes.  

Work From Home Scams 

Work at home scams are especially difficult to spot during these times when many of us are already working from home or telecommuting. Ads on job boards may sound perfect – be a online assistant or meeting organizer! But be careful – if it sounds too good to be true, it may be. Common work from home scams include envelope stuffing schemes, telemarketing resale schemes, and home-based internet businesses.  Here are some tips for avoiding work from home scams: 

  • Do not give out sensitive personal information, like bank account information or driver’s license numbers, before an interview.  

  • Do not pay up front for special training, access, or equipment.  If your new employer asks you to deposit a check for them in your account to use to purchase some equipment to get started, you may become a victim of a cashier’s check scam.  

Learn more about how checks can be used to steal your money, and more about working at home scams.  

Pet Scams 

Many of us are home more these days, making a furry friend sound especially appealing. You may be thinking of getting that new pet you have been dreaming of. Do your research before buying a pet online. You may want to do an image search of that adorable pet to see if the business has stolen the picture from elsewhere. Many websites are fly-by-night and may shut down as soon as they take your money. If you paid with a wire transfer, certain online payments, or a gift card, you may not be able to get your money back. 

Learn more about pet scams.  

Pyramid Schemes 

Pyramid schemes are making a comeback and are using many different names to hide their true nature – blessing circle, sou-sou, and Mandala are some examples. Sometimes an acquaintance may approach you, often on social media, and promise a big return to play a game or to provide a gift to others where you will eventually be paid back many times over – for example, someone promises you $800 after you contribute $100, and asks you to recruit others to join. If a friend or family member makes the offer, you should warn them that this is a scam and could be illegal.  You are extremely unlikely to see the promised return on your investment. 

Learn more about pyramid schemes

Be a Savvy Consumer 

Now is a great time to practice some basic consumer safety tips. 

  • Avoid paying unknown individuals or businesses with gift cards, wire transfers, or certain online payment platforms as many scams rely on forms of payment that often cannot be refunded.  

  • Do some research before buying products from unfamiliar retailers, as some may not deliver the goods you are expecting. Look at seller and product reviews, but also look to see if any reviewers describe something as a scam.   

  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Do a quick internet search before you purchase a product or respond to a text or email offer.  

  • Any offer that starts with "you’ve won!" and asks you to pay for taxes, shipping, or anything else is probably a scam. The same is true of grants and government assistance- you don’t have to pay first to get the benefit. 

  • Government agencies and officials never call and demand money immediately to avoid arrest or an enforcement action against you. 

Remember, don’t fall for offers for cures for Covid-19, and be careful of imposters pretending to email or call you from the CDC or the IRS regarding tests or stimulus checks.

Learn more about the latest Covid-19 specific scams

Other Common Scams

To learn more about other common scams, visit the Texas Attorney General page on common scams.  

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. When filing a complaint, please include as much information as possible.  For additional information visit our page on disaster scams