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State Employees Warned of Phone Scam Linked to Data Snafu

Attorney General Greg Abbott announces an organized scam against people whose information was released online.
Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News
Attorney General Greg Abbott announces an organized scam against people whose information was released online.

Texans affected by an internet security breach by the Comptroller's office are now being targeted by a new telephone scam. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement today saying a state employee reported to the AG that they received a phone call from someone claiming to be with the Employees Retirement System of Texas. The release described the exchange between the Texas employee and the scammer.

According to the report, a Health and Human Services Commission employee stated that an individual called the employee’s home, identified himself as “Mike with ERS” and said he wanted to confirm the last four digits of the employee’s Social Security number. When the employee refused to provide information, the caller said, “Good luck to you” and disconnected the call.

The AG has already initiated a criminal investigation with the FBI over the security breach. Last week Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced about 3.5 million Texans with the Texas Workforce Commission, Teachers Retirement System and Employees Retirement System of Texas had their personal information, including Social Security number and date of birth, displayed on a state server for about a year. The Comptroller's office says the mistake was discovered during a routine security check of the system.

The Comptroller set up a website to help those affected protect their identities and credit ratings. And has negotiated a lower subscription price with one of the credit monitoring services for those affected to monitor their credit reports to make sure no one is trying to use their information to open new accounts.

The AG's office says if you receive one of these fraudulent calls - JUST HANG UP! (they actually used all caps in the press release)

Here are a few other tips:

  • Request a copy of their credit report and review it for unauthorized account activity.
  • Contact a primary credit reporting bureau to have a fraud alert placed on the reports. That credit bureau will notify the other two bureaus.
  • Report unauthorized charges and accounts to the appropriate credit issuers and credit bureaus immediately by phone and in writing. Cancel the accounts.
  • File a police report with their local law enforcement agency and keep a copy of that report. Many banks and credit agencies require such a report before they will acknowledge that a theft has occurred.
Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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