Call for Action: Can scammers reach you via text? it happened to these local teachers.

Call for Action: Can scammers reach you via text? it happened to these local teachers.

Scammers continue to get bolder with their attempts to steal your information – and the latest strategy might be to text you straight to your cell phone.

That’s what happened to Sherry Gonterman, a teacher at Janesville School District. When she opened an email from what appeared to be her principal’s Gmail account, asking her to text her immediately, she complied. The text told her to purchase a $200 Amazon gift card at the local CVS and send a picture of the back of it to that phone number. Gonterman didn’t even think to question her boss – until she returned to school and ran into a colleague out in the parking lot who said she had just done the same thing.

“Teachers are known to be kind people,” Gonterman said. “For someone to target teachers, it’s just appalling to me.”

Between Gonterman and her colleague, the two teachers were out $400 of their own money that might have otherwise been spent on their students.

When Gonterman called for action, CFA volunteer Barb Clark picked up on the phone. She is one of a half dozen volunteers who use their decades of expertise in different fields to help protect consumers from these kinds of scams. Clark’s own background is in education – she was a teacher for decades and said she knows just how much of their own money educators spend to take care of their students.

“[They’re] starting to hit us where it really hurts us – in our pocketbooks and also with our children,” she said.

Clark and other volunteers have seen countless gift card scams, but she had never heard of a scam involving something so personal as text messages. Her advice is simple – be aware that this kind of thing happens. Be skeptical. Question.

“[That is can happen] to a teacher,” Clark said. “To a teacher who’s spending their money on children – no scruples. Some people have no scruples.”

If you have a complaint about a scam or any other consumer question, you can give News 3 Now’s Call for Action volunteers a call at 608-270-2833. Volunteers are on hand Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. You can also call for action anytime here.

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