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Attorney General Lockyer Warns Consumers of Con Artists Posing as Justice Department Employees

Monday, August 19, 2002
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today urged Californians to beware of identity thieves claiming to be employees of the Attorney General's Office – or any other governmental agency.

"We have recently received a number of disturbing reports from consumers who have been called by con artists who claim to work for the 'Attorney General's Office' or the 'California Department of Justice,'" Lockyer said. "I urge all Californians to avoid giving out personal financial information to unknown solicitors who want this information so they can use your identity to run up credit cards or other debts in your name."

The callers reportedly tell the consumer that he or she has been a victim of 'identity theft' and that, as employees of the Attorney General's Office, the callers can help. They then ask the consumer to provide or 'confirm' information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, or other personal or financial information.

Similar scams involving the "Do Not Call" registry and even Internal Revenue Service tax audits also have been reported recently. The Attorney General advised consumers to be vigilant. If consumers have a question about the identity and legitimacy of the person who is requesting sensitive financial information, they should not provide that person with their social security number, credit card number or any other personal financial information. Instead, they should get the caller's name, governmental agency and location and then use a web site, phone book or directory assistance to independently contact that agency and confirm that the person works there in an official capacity.

"The rule regarding giving out private, financial information is simple," Lockyer said. "If you have a doubt, don't give it out."

Consumers who think they may have been contacted by someone attempting to perpetrate this kind of scam should report the details of the incident to the local District Attorney's Office, the Attorney General's Public Inquiry Unit at (800) 952-5225, or the Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210. Electronic complaint forms and other information also are available on the Attorney General's web page at www.ag.ca.gov/consumers and the Department of Consumer Affair's site at Department of Consumer Affair's www.dca.ca.gov.

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