While the goal is always the same, the tactics often change for criminals seeking personal or financial information in order to steal a consumer's identity or money.

While the goal is always the same, the tactics often change for criminals seeking personal or financial information in order to steal a consumer’s identity or money.

In recent weeks, the Attorney General’s Office has received a significant number of reports from Arkansas consumers who have received calls from con artists seeking credit card or bank account numbers. These scammers’ new efforts involve posing as an agent for a credit card company or acting as a representative of the federal government.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to let people know about these deceptive telephone solicitations.

“Criminals are consistently trying to find new ways to rip off consumers,” McDaniel said. “It is important to stay vigilant and know how to avoid falling into a scammer’s trap, regardless of the situation. Most importantly, consumers should never provide sensitive financial data to an unsolicited caller.”

One scam that targeted Arkansans as recently as last week involved telephone calls from con artists purporting to be representatives of a credit-card company. Consumers hear pre-recorded messages stating that their credit cards had been “locked,” and are asked to press “1” to connect to customer-service agents.

Once the imposter agents are on the line, they ask consumers for their credit-card numbers in order to begin the “unlocking” process. Of course, the credit card accounts have never been locked. Scammers would most likely try to use the newly learned card number for criminal purposes.

Banks and credit-card companies know consumers’ bank account and card numbers already, so those entities will not make unsolicited calls seeking that information, McDaniel said. Those consumers in doubt about the intentions of a particular caller should hang up and call their financial institutions directly.

Earlier this week, authorities in Northeast Arkansas said consumers in that area had been receiving calls from someone posing as a government employee offering grants to those who have good credit. The caller tells consumers they are eligible for a $9,000 grant, but then asks for checking account, savings account and debit card numbers, presumably as a means to wire the grant money. However, no such grant program exists. In an apparent attempt to provide a false sense of legitimacy for the calls, caller ID indicates that the numbers originate from the Washington, D.C., area code, 202.

McDaniel encouraged consumers to hang up on the con artists and consider calling the Consumer Protection Division to report the call and the number it originated from. Any consumer who receives threats or feels threatened by a caller should contact local law enforcement.

For more information about the scams or other consumer-related issues, contact the Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit the division’s website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.