Scammers Taking Advantage of New Federal Economic Stimulus Package
Texans should be aware of a scam that has emerged in connection with the proposed federal economic stimulus package. Under recently passed legislation, the IRS will mail tax rebate checks to eligible Texans over the next few months. President Bush has indicated he will sign the package into law on Wednesday.|
Several Texans recently filed complaints with the Office of the Attorney General after receiving unsolicited e-mails and telephone calls from purported IRS agents claiming that the taxpayers are eligible for “Bush refunds.” The scammers demand taxpayers’ Social Security and bank account numbers, claiming the IRS will use the information to directly deposit “rebate checks” into the taxpayers’ accounts.
This is outright identity theft fraud. The IRS does not call or e-mail taxpayers unexpectedly to demand personal information for direct deposits. Taxpayers solicited in this manner should just hang up or delete the e-mail.
Texans who have received these bogus solicitations can file a complaint with the IRS at www.irs.gov or by calling (800) 829-1040. Consumers also can report such calls to our office.
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.