AUSTIN - Businesses are being targeted by a scammer alleging to be with the Office of the Attorney General in Texas, according to Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The first email was reported to Paxton's office July 5, Kayleigh Lovvorn, media relations employee for the attorney general, told the SE Texas Record. Reports continued to come in that week with the subject line “The Office of The Attorney General Complaint.” The address is listed as email@example.com.
Official complaints from the attorney general's office from the Consumer Protection Department will be from the following address ConsumerProtectionfirstname.lastname@example.org.
The scammer tells unsuspecting recipients the email is from the Consumer Protection Division, Lovvorn said. It then tells the recipient a complaint has been filed against them. A link that explains “the complaint” is included. If someone clicks on it, harmful software will be downloaded onto the computer.
Consumers should be wary of e-mails from “official” sources that contain misspelled words or incorrect capitalization
The public is encouraged to avoid opening any e-mail attachments if they don't recognize the sender. E-mail users can avoid accidentally installing malware by making sure electronics such as computers and cell phones have protective software in place, Lovvorn said. Several companies offer free virus protection programs.
Suspicious e-mails can be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com or filed about a specific company by visiting the FTC's website at https://www.ftc.gov and clicking on “File A Complaint Online.”
The complaints help the FTC find patterns law enforcement can use in investigations. The FTC does not address individual complaints but offers steps the recipient can take. Instead of clicking on the email attachments, which could install malware on the computer, recipients can search on-line to find out if others have received a similar e-mail. A list of recent scams is also listed on the FTC website. Consumers who would like to go one step further can sign-up for free scam alerts on the FTC website. To sign up for the free scam alerts log on to ftc.gov/scams.
Another way to avoid being a scam victim is to contact the office where the e-mail claims to have originated. Don't use the phone number provided in a questionable e-mail, take the time to visit the office's official website on-line to find the phone number.
Unfortunately, the Office of the Attorney General cannot prevent unsolicited e-mails or help individuals receiving spam, the state says. The office does accept consumer complaints under the Texas anti-spam law and can take legal action against spammers sending large numbers of emails to consumers.