Fraudulent Phone Call Targets State Employee Following Internet Security Breach

Last week, the Texas Comptroller’s Office publicly announced that the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses of more than three million Texans were inadvertently stored on a publicly accessible website. The information exposed on the website included data from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the Texas Workforce Commission and the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS).

Unfortunately, the Attorney General’s Office has learned that Texans affected by the Internet security breach are now the targets of a new telephone scam. A state employee reported receiving fraudulent telephone calls at home from an individual seeking to confirm the employee’s Social Security numbers. The caller falsely claimed to be with ERS.

According to the report, a Health and Human Services Commission employee stated that an individual called the employee’s home, identified himself as “Mike with ERS” and said he wanted to confirm the last four digits of the employee’s Social Security number. When the employee refused to provide information, the caller said, “Good luck to you” and disconnected the call.

Affected state employees and retirees – as well as current and retired teachers or university employees – should be alert that ERS, TRS and the Texas Workforce Commission are not making these telephone calls. State employees and all Texans who receive these kinds of fraudulent phone calls should not provide any information to the caller: JUST HANG UP!

To further guard against identity theft, Texans whose confidential information was compromised should consider taking these steps:

• Request a copy of their credit report and review it for unauthorized account activity.
• Contact a primary credit reporting bureau to have a fraud alert placed on the reports. That credit bureau will notify the other two bureaus.
• Report unauthorized charges and accounts to the appropriate credit issuers and credit bureaus immediately by phone and in writing. Cancel the accounts.
• File a police report with their local law enforcement agency and keep a copy of that report. Many banks and credit agencies require such a report before they will acknowledge that a theft has occurred.
• Visit www.txsafeguard.org or www.texasfightsidtheft.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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