Several counties in Southern California have posted warnings about child support scams via their respective Department of Child Support websites. These scams include phishing calls, smartphone apps, and a scam targeting individuals who receive support payments via Electronic Payment Cards.
If you are unfamiliar with phishing, it is an attempt to obtain financial or other confidential information from Internet users, typically by sending an email that looks as if it is from a legitimate organization, usually a financial institution, but contains a link to a fake website that replicates the real one. These scams can come in a variety of forms, from solicited calls to text messages, and are not limited to just email.
A phishing scam will pose as a legitimate source or company and will try and get the targeted individual to divulge private information that can be used in a multitude of ways—including identity theft.
The San Bernardino County Department of Child Support Services has posted an urgent notice saying: “DCSS has been notified of a “phishing scam” that targets individuals who have child support cases. If you receive an automated telephone call claiming to be the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), do not provide your Social Security number or any other personal information.” The website also warns of phishing phone calls from individuals claiming to be with the State Disbursement Unit (SDU).
If you receive emails or phone calls from someone claiming to be with the Department of Child Support Services or the State Disbursement Unit and they are asking you to provide personal information, contact your local child support agency directly. Do not give out personal information over the phone, email, or text unless you are certain that the other party is an official representative of the organization.
Be wary of emails asking you to verify or enter personal information by replying to the message or visiting a website. If you think a request to verify information is legitimate, go directly to the company website by typing the web address in the browser or contact the company directly to confirm that it is a authentic request. Avoid clicking on links, opening attachments or replying directly to the email.
If you feel you have received a fraudulent email or phone solicitation you can report it to US-CERT.
The California Department of Child Support Services has also reported another scam that involves smartphone apps claiming they will provide the balance on your California EPC debit card. The California Department of Child Support Services does not use smartphone apps for activity related to your debit card. Using an app that claims to provide EPC balance information may compromise personal information and leave you vulnerable to scams and identity theft. If think you account may have been compromised, contact EPPICard using the information provided on the back of your card.
You can learn more about protecting your privacy and avoiding scams by visiting the website for the Office of the Attorney General.