Scam Alert: Identity thieves posing as government agents or debt collectors targeting consumers

scam alert 150x150Scammers frequently claim they are collecting child support debt

The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is investigating a scheme by callers claiming to be with government or debt collection agencies who have been attempting to steal consumers’ money and identities.

According to a Dec. 16 press release, the OAG has received dozens of calls in recent months from Texans who say they received phone calls from people claiming to be collecting overdue payments. In particular, the callers claimed the consumers owed child support payments.

Your BBB also regularly receives calls from consumers who were contacted by phony debt collectors claiming to be with various government agencies, including the IRS, and making various threats.

Imposters claiming to be with the Texas Attorney General’s Office typically claim the consumer owes funds to the OAG and that a warrant has been issued for their arrest. After scaring consumers with the possibility of being arrested, the scammers ask for Social Security and other personal information.

The scammers then tell the victim the problem can be resolved if they purchase a pre-paid debit card, load it with money and call them back with the number from the back of the card. The scam artists can then steal the victim’s money and use their sensitive personal information to steal their identity.

Texas residents who believe they are a victim of this scam should file a consumer complaint at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. If you believe the scam put you at risk for identity theft, visit www.texasfightsidtheft.gov for a copy of the OAG’s Identity Theft Kit and also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.

BBB offers the following advice to prevent being victimized by scam callers:

  • Go off the call. If a caller claims to be with a government agency, find the number independently and get verification.
  • Protect your money. Never wire transfer money or purchase a Green Dot card without verifying who is on the other line. These payment forms are the most commonly used because they cannot be traced. Green Dot MoneyPak users also need to remember that anyone they share their card number with has instant access to their funds.
  • Stay private. Do not give your Social Security number or other personal information to unsolicited callers. Check your privacy settings on all your social media sites. Scammers often make their stories more believable by trolling for information on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Don’t let a potential scammer push you into sending money before you verify the situation.
  • Know where to turn. If you fall victim to a scam, report the incident immediately to local police and your state Attorney General’s office.
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