Ken Paxton
Consumer Protection

Beware of "recovery" scam

A consumer recently contacted us to say that she had been victimized by scammers who called her posing as employees of her bank, to see if she had received new checks. When she said she had not, they tricked her into telling them her account number. The callers (who were not actually connected to the bank in any way) then debited money from her account. Fortunately, the bank cancelled the debit, and the consumer did not lose money.

But then the consumer received a second call, supposedly from an organization in another state that was recovering money on behalf of defrauded consumers through a lawsuit. The caller claimed that he had restitution to deposit in her account. He asked for her account number. This time, the consumer knew better than to give out her personal financial information. Other consumers have not been so lucky. Faced with disastrous losses to con artists, some distraught victims gamble again, hoping that someone really can recover their lost savings for them. The sad fact is, they are victimized a second time.

Do not give your account number to someone who calls you, no matter who they say they are. Your bank will not call you and ask for your account number. If you want to transact business by phone, look up the number yourself and place the call, so you will know for sure who is at the other end of the line.

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.