New Identity Theft Scam Targets Texas Debit Card Users

Parents who use the Texas Debit Card to access their child support payments should beware of a new identity theft scam that targets EPPICard users. The Texas Attorney Generalís Office and government agencies in 14 other states use EPPICards, which are known locally as the Texas Debit Card, to disburse child support payments.

According to the Internet Complaint Center, EPPICard users nationwide have reported receiving e-mail, voice and text messages falsely indicating problems with their accounts. Card users are directed to update their accounts or correct a problem by clicking on a Web link included within the message. The link directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site where their personal information, such as account number and PIN, is compromised. Recipients of these messages also may be directed to call a phone number.

EPPICard users have also reported receiving an e-mail message offering payments to those who complete an online survey. At the end of the survey, users are asked for their EPPICard account information so that funds can be credited to the account. By providing the requested information, users put their financial information at risk.

EPPICard providers indicate they are not affiliated with survey Web sites and do not solicit personal information via e-mail or text messages.

Texas Debit Card users should be vigilant and avoid this new twist on old e-mail scheme. Parents should never open unsolicited e-mails or click on Web links that appear in an unsolicited e-mail. Doing so could activate hidden viruses or other malicious software or direct users to a decoy Web site that allows identity thieves to collect the information they need to empty the usersí bank accounts and ruin their credit.

Texas Debit Card users who have questions about their account should call the programís toll-free hotline at (866) 729-6159. Customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Parents also may call the toll-free number to check account balances and obtain transaction histories.

More than 280,000 Texas parents served by the child support program use the Texas Debit Card as a convenient alternative to receiving child support payments by cash or check. Parents who receive fraudulent e-mails regarding account information or survey requests should notify the Internet Complaint Center by filing an online complaint at www.ic3.gov.

General Abbott's signature
Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas

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ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.

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