Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Identity thieves keep hatching new ways to trick folks into revealing personal information. Here are three new twists on telemarketing and e-mail fraud occuring in our state this week.

Tax Rebate Scam: Moments after President Bush’s tax rebate was announced, a reporter told us that Kent man received a phone call from someone asking for his bank account information so that the government could direct-deposit his rebate check. Each year, the Internal Revenue Service warns workers about various forms of fraud including phony e-mails which claim to come from the IRS. You can report e-mail phishing scams (like this one we blogged about last month) and telephone scams to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Military Spouses Targeted: The BBB warned that a caller claiming to represent the Red Cross informs military spouses that their husband or wife has been injured while on duty in Iraq and has been med-evacuated to a German hospital. The caller then claims that in order to start medical treatment, the spouse must provide correct identification of their enlisted family member including a Social Security number and birth date.

Spanish-Language Smishing Text Messages: On the East Side of the state, the BBB issued an alert about an elderly woman in Yakima who received a Spanish-language text message on her cell phone asking her to contact someone ASAP. When the woman called, a con told her she had won something, and began asking for personal information to confirm her identity. Fortunately, the woman’s daughter sensed this was a scam and intercepted the conversation. This type of scam is called  “smishing,” a term that combines  e-mail “phishing” with Short Message Service (SMS), the technology used to transmit text messages over cellular devices. Smishing messages sent to mobile phones often contain links to Web sites where victims are prompted to enter personal information or download dangerous software.

Never provide personal information to an unsolicited caller or in response to an e-mail.

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