For Immediate Release - April 24, 2015

AG Healey Warns Residents of Scam Stealing Tax Refunds Through Prepaid Cards

Fraudulent Accounts Have Been Created with Stolen Identities to Collect Tax Refunds

BOSTON – Concerned for taxpayers whose personal information may have been stolen in order to fraudulently file taxes, Attorney General Maura Healey today issued a warning to Massachusetts residents about a scam that allows perpetrators to steal tax refunds through the use of prepaid money cards.

“Identity theft can have serious and costly impacts on victims, and in this case, scammers are using personal information to steal tax refunds,” AG Healey said. “We have seen many types of tax scams and fraud this tax season, and we urge residents who may still be dealing with their annual filings to be alert to this prepaid card scam and know how to both protect themselves and their money.”

Perpetrators of the scam reportedly file fraudulent tax returns using stolen Social Security Numbers and instruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) to deposit the refund onto a legitimate “temporary” bank card account, most times Green Dot cards. The falsely-obtained refunds can be spent or transferred from the prepaid card by scammers before consumers are aware.

This year, the AG’s Office received complaints from consumers who had not yet filed their taxes, but reported receiving a personalized, embossed Green Dot card in the mail that they did not authorize, allegedly containing their income tax refund from the IRS or the DOR.

Last month, AG Healey alerted consumers to be wary of other prepaid card scams that have increased in frequency in Massachusetts and across the country. Complaints to the AG’s Office have increased in the past year.

To help avoid being scammed or becoming victims of identity theft, the AG’s office offers the following:

  • If you have received a Green Dot prepaid card that you did not authorize, contact Green Dot customer service at (866) 795-7597.
  • Do not activate the card. Close any and all accounts with your name with Green Dot.
  • Alert the IRS if a false tax return may have been filed in your name by calling their identity theft line at (800) 908-4490.  
  • Contact your local police agency to report identity theft and be vigilant to monitor your credit reports for potential future problems, even if you’ve already filed your taxes.
  • If you suspect that your account information may have been affected by a security breach, call one of the three major credit bureaus and place a one-call fraud alert on your credit report:
    • Equifax: Call (800) 525-6285, and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
    • Experian: Call (888) 397-3742, and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013.
    • TransUnion: Call (800) 680-7289, and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.
  • The IRS or the Department of Revenue will never ask for credit card numbers over the phone or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, so do not give out that information over the phone to anyone claiming to be from those agencies.
  • Consumers should never give prepaid card information to someone they do not know – it is like sending cash.

The Attorney General’s Office fields thousands of inquiries pertaining to scams and can direct consumers to the appropriate agency to file a complaint. One of those is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Consumers can file a complaint with the FTC on their website atwww.ftc.gov/idtheft, or via phone at (877) 438-4338.

Consumers may also call Attorney General Healey’s Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400. Additional information and resources pertaining to consumer scams are available on the Attorney General’s website

#####