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Office of Consumer Protection

SCAMS

Equifax Data Breach:

‚ÄčWith the breach of at least 143 million American consumers' sensitive data, hackers now have access to names, SSN, DOBs, addresses as well as some driver's license and credit card account numbers.  The  Consumer Finance Protection Bureau  has good information on what identity theft is and what signs to look for to see if you have been victimized.  The  Federal Trade Commission provides details on what you can do to protect yourself from identity theft in the wake of this breach.  Beware of a phone scam where criminals call  you pretending to be Equifax.  Equifax is  not calling 143 million people regarding the breach or credit monitoring plans.

Check Fraud Scams:

Two new scams were reported this week.  One involved a fake letter from Publisher's Clearing House including a check to cover fees for the million-dollar sweepstakes win.  A second involved a " secret shopper " scam which included the first "paycheck."  In both cases, another business was victimized either for the bank account information or for customer data.  The checks are all fraudulently drafted.  The first check was written on the payroll account of a social services organization in NY.  The second check was likely a fraudulent account altogether.  If checks arrive in the mail unsolicited, DO NOT CASH THEM.  

County Telephone Scam:  

Montgomery County Government informed residents about a telephone spoofing scam that is taking place in our area. Several County residents have reported receiving calls from scammers who are fraudulently using County telephone numbers (240-773-xxxx and 240-777-xxxx).  The OCP has received similar complaints from consumers who state that the call is a recorded sales pitch. Please know that county staff will leave a message stating the reason for their call.  If you receive a scam call from a County telephone number, please report it to MC311 by dialing 3-1-1- or by visiting  MC311.com .

Water Quality Scam :

The water filter scam comes in many variations.  With the increased concern over the tap water purity, county residents have reported various entities offering to test your water.  These scammers pose as the Environmental Protection Agency conducting surveys, as  authorized WSSC   representatives, or simply are unnamed companies providing a “free” service to residents.  The EPA is concerned that those posing as the EPA may be focusing on Spanish-speaking communities.  These scammers come door-to-door and conduct “tests” in your living room which purport to show you how your water is contaminated.  They may even leave vials at your door with  notes   on how to have your water tested later.  To obtain information about the EPA’s drinking water regulations and general information about drinking water, you may contact the  EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline.
  
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