FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.
Operation Commander/Public Information Officer
FRAUD ADVISORY: SHERIFF’S OFFICE Warns Public about Direct Express® Phishing Scam: Jefferson County, Arkansas – August 21, 2015-Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a telephone phishing scheme involving the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard®. The Direct Express® card is a prepaid debit card offered to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients who wish to receive their benefits electronically.
Our office recently received a report that an elderly women received a phone call from an individual poses as a representative of Direct Express®. The caller reported asked the senior to verify personal information to include her social security number, name, and address.
After gaining personal information, the caller then created an account at https://www.usdirectexpress.com and had the victims social security benefits direct deposited onto the Direct Express Card in an unknown name in order to deny the victim access to social security benefits. Fortunately, the victims daughter in this case was able to communicate with the Social Security Administration and place a hold on the electronic transfer of benefits to directexpress.
We are urging citizens receiving social security benefits to be aware that Comerica Bank, the company that issues Direct Express® cards, will never call you and request this information in this manner. Moreover, you should always take precautions when asked to provide personal information. “You should never provide your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or other personal information unless you are extremely confident about the identity of the requestor”.
Please be aware that there are many variations of this type of scheme, which could lead to identity theft or Social Security benefit theft. For more information on identity theft, please click here. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov or 1-877-ID-THEFT for additional information or to report identity theft.
If you receive a text message, e-mail, or phone call from anyone claiming to be from a government agency and requesting personal information, our office recommends that you contact the agency directly to verify the request. For the Social Security Administration, you may contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at (800) 772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, to verify the employee’s identity and the information request. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at (800) 325-0778.)
For questions related to the Direct Express card, cardholders should call (888) 741-1115 (deaf and hard-of-hearing cardholders should use (866) 569-0447).
Also, you may report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at http://oig.ssa.gov/report, or by phone at (800) 269-0271, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call TTY (866) 501-2101.)