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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2006
Consumer Alert: Cons Claiming to be with Department of Health Asking for Bank Info


OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today warned Washington residents about a phone scam in which the caller claims to work for the Department of Health.

Several Washington residents reported receiving unsolicited calls this week from someone claiming to work for the Washington State Department of Health. In each case, the caller indicated that the agency was offering some sort of incentive, such as a discount card for health services, a voucher good for prescriptions, or a $1,000 shopping spree.

The caller then asked for bank account information, and in some cases, provided bank account information and asked for verification.

McKenna and state Health Secretary Mary Selecky said these calls are not authorized by the department or any other area of state government. Similar calls have been reported in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Officials suspect the calls may be coming from a boiler room and that the con artists are seeking personal information they can use to steal funds or commit identity theft.

“Never provide personal information to an unknown caller,” McKenna said. “Government agencies don’t give away prizes, and will not call you to ask for your bank account.”

Washington residents who receive such calls are advised to simply hang up.

Consumers who believe they may be a victim of fraud should immediately contact their bank and close their account. For more information about what to do if you become a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-551-4636. Information is also available online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft and www.atg.wa.gov.

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Media Contact:

Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, Attorney General’s Office, (206) 464-6432, kalexander@atg.wa.gov

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