AG warns about cash scam

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, in coordination with the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, is warning consumers to be on guard against a phone scam seeking to steal personal information.

The alert involves an impostor calling residents with the promise of cash assistance and/or government benefits in exchange for personal information. The caller typically claims to represent DHHR or similar government agencies.

West Virginia’s DHHR does not give away money in such a manner.

“Never give personal information to an unknown caller,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “No government agency offers financial assistance in this manner. Consumers should never give out personal information to someone whose legitimacy cannot be verified.”

The Attorney General’s Office also alerted consumers to an uptick in calls related to the notorious Internal Revenue Service scam. This scam seizes upon the impending tax deadline and typically involves an impostor threatening arrest if the consumer does not provide immediate payment.

In either case, consumers are urged to follow these tips when confronted with suspicious phone calls:

Do not give out personal information via the phone, mail or Internet unless you can verify the identity of the recipient.

If a caller says you must pay immediately, take down the necessary information and then independently verify whether you owe the money.

Be suspicious if someone uses bullying tactics to receive payment. Hang up and call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office to report the incident.

Be wary of out-of-state telephone numbers, the use of automated calling machines, fake government badge numbers, phony emails and caller ID information used to support the caller’s bogus representation.

Consumers with questions about either scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online