Scam E-mail: Your credit card has been charged...
A number of consumers have contacted our office recently to report yet another scam e-mail that is a thinly disguised attempt to steal the consumer's financial information. The subject line of the e-mail reads "Your credit card has been charged...[amount]" The e-mail then asserts that the consumer has been identified as the administrator of a pornographic Web site or a money launderer — accusations that many would be anxious to deny. The e-mail says you can click on "No." If you do so, then at a minimum, you have confirmed for the scammers that your e-mail address is valid and active, which as many of you know, means you will receive many more contacts from these would-be crooks in the future. The message then solicits personal financial information, including your credit card number.|
This is just the latest in a seemingly inexhaustible variety of e-mail ploys intended to trick consumers into providing crooks with the information they need to commit identity theft. I cannot say it often enough: do not provide your personal or financial information through e-mail in response to a solicitation from a person or company unknown to you.
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.