Consumer Alert: Identity Thieves
AUSTIN, December 17, 2014 - The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has opened a criminal investigation into an apparent identity theft ring that is claiming to be either a governmental or debt collection agency in an attempt to steal state residents’ personal information and identities.
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.
Stop to verify the request
Take proactive steps to prevent ID theft
Know the red flags of a scam
This impersonation ploy is particularly effective because it causes victims to react immediately out of fear that they are facing criminal action by the OAG, rather than taking the time to consider the information being requested and verify directly with the OAG that the request is legitimate. The OAG typically only pursues arrest warrants against individuals who are wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to make regular child support payments.