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Attorney General - Consumer Alert - December 16, 2014
Consumer Alert: Identity thieves claiming to be a governmental or debt collection agency; seek immediate payments for overdue bills – particularly child support
In recent months, dozens of Texas residents have reported receiving telephone calls from criminals who claim to be collecting overdue payments – particularly child support debt – on behalf of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. These imposters typically inform their victims that he or she owes funds to the OAG and claim that an arrest warrant has been issued due to the resident’s failure to make the purported payment.
Once victims are alarmed about the prospect of a warrant being issued for their arrest, the identity thieves seek to “confirm” the resident’s Social Security number and other personal information. After the unwitting victim divulges this sensitive personal information, the caller claims that the entire matter can be resolved if the victim immediately pays the purported debt through a bank draft. The victim is told to go to a nearby convenience store, purchase a pre-paid debit card, load it with cash, and call back the identity thief to provide the number off the back of the card. After receiving the card number, the imposter can both steal the funds on the card and use the victim’s sensitive personal financial information to steal the victim’s identity.
As with many ploys to obtain individuals’ personal information, it is likely that many of these imposters are actually thousands of miles away – often in other countries and out of reach of U.S. law enforcement. Pre-paid debit cards, the payment form demanded under this scheme, are now preferable to swindlers; the cards are more convenient than a money wire – and just as untraceable.