More than 280,000 Texas parents served by the child support program use the Texas debit card as a convenient alternative to receiving child support payments by cash or check. But those who use the Texas debit card (EPPICard) to access their child support payments should beware of a new identity theft scam that targets card users. According to the Internet Complaint Center, EPPICard users nationwide have reported receiving e-mail, voice and text messages falsely indicating problems with their accounts. Card users are directed to update their accounts or correct a problem by clicking on a Web link included within the message. The link directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site where their personal information, such as account number and PIN, is compromised. Recipients of these messages also may be directed to call a phone number.

EPPICard users have also reported receiving an e-mail message offering payments to those who complete an online survey. At the end of the survey, users are asked for their EPPICard account information so that funds can be credited to the account. By providing the requested information, users put their financial information at risk. EPPICard providers indicate they are not affiliated with survey Web sites and do not solicit personal information via e-mail or text messages.

Texas debit card users should be vigilant and avoid this new twist on old e-mail scheme. Parents should never open unsolicited e-mails or click on Web links that appear in an unsolicited e-mail. Doing so could activate hidden viruses or other malicious software or direct users to a decoy Web site that allows identity thieves to collect the information they need to empty the users' bank accounts and ruin their credit.

Texas debit card users who have questions about their account should call the program's toll-free hotline at (866) 729-6159. Customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Parents who receive fraudulent e-mails regarding account information or survey requests should notify the Internet Complaint Center by filing an online complaint.