By Mike Stetzer
For parents who decide to begin divorce proceedings, the divorce process is complicated by matters of child support, child custody and even explaining divorce to children. And, as many divorced parents know, the complications rarely end with the final court order.
Besides shuttling children back and forth between households and juggling several schedules, divorced parents must worry about the specific financial issues of divorce like making child support payments. Unfortunately, the high-tech ways in which many financial transactions are handled these days open the door for high-tech problems with such transactions.
Recent reports from United Press International warn that the latest overseas phishing scam is targeting parents who pay child support with an EppiCard.
Phishing is the crime of trying to get someone's personal information by illegal or fraudulent methods by posing as a trustworthy entity. Phishing scams are commonly carried out through electronic communications such as email, text messages and even phone calls. Scammers typically ask for information like Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and PINs.
And they can be devious - many phishing scams are carefully designed to look like legitimate communications from upright organizations. For the less-savvy web user, phishing scams can be disastrous. Once a scammer has your personal information, he or she can use it to open new credit cards (and run up debt), drain any accounts you might have, take out loans and complete a number of other illegal transactions that hurt you.
The current warning is in place for users of the EppiCard, which is apparently used in 15 states as a means of distributing child support money to divorced parents. Because payments go right to the EppiCard (which evidently works like a debit card), parents don't have to worry about the hassle of checks or paper money.
The digital nature of the card, though, leaves its users vulnerable to digital scams like the current one.
The EppiCard issuer has posted a statement on its website warning users about the current phishing scam. It assures users that "we will never request your personal information such as social security number, card number or PIN through any of these methods. Please do not respond to requests like these. Being informed is your best defense."
Users who believe their accounts have been compromised are encouraged to call the customer service number located on the back of the EppiCard. In general, if you're uncertain about the validity of an email you receive, call a known phone number for the bank or organization that sent the email.
Overall, don't respond to emails or other electronic communications requesting sensitive identification information. For more information about phishing and protecting your personal information, visit the Fair Trade Commission's page on identity theft.