- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

When asked why he robbed banks, the infamous Willie Sutton quipped: “Because that’s where the money is.”

Today, especially in Washington, the preferred target of many crooks and scam artists is your identity.

Two types of scam artists are working federal agencies in an effort to steal the personal identification of employees or to sell them life insurance policies — which may be perfectly good — outside of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI).

Scam artists have not found a way to tap into the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), an optional part of the retirement package that has more money than the treasuries of some Third World countries. But they have been sending e-mails to TSP account holders asking them to “confirm” information.

The e-mail recipient thinks the query comes from the TSP and follows instructions to give information for identification purposes at certain sites.

Officials don’t know how many employees have been stung, but they have issued an alert on their Web site (www.tsp.gov) including information about what to do if you have been a victim. The TSP points out that it never solicits information of that kind and that people should always be wary when someone claiming to be from a bank or credit card company asks you to “confirm” a number.

Scam No. 2 is more irritating than illegal. It involves sales representatives who call federal employees at the office, sometimes asking for a face-to-face meeting to discuss their life insurance.

In each case, they either claim to represent the government or the private insurance company that underwrites FEGLI. Then, they try to sell the unsuspecting fed a policy from their company, sometimes seeking a down payment.

Although their insurance may be good, the way they are selling it isn’t.

Rumor control

It’s that time of year again. Rumors are flooding the e-mail in-boxes of feds across the country. They sound so good people want them to be true.

Among the hoaxes: reports of a super-buyout in the works that is much more generous than the standard-since-1993 buyout worth $25,000 before deductions.

Congress is not working on a more generous buyout plan or a sweeter retirement package.

Rumor No. 2, also false, is that the government will modify its use-it-or-lose-it sick-leave policy for the vast majority of feds under the new Federal Employees Retirement System. FERS is not going to give people retirement credit for unused sick leave.

Mike Causey, senior editor at Federal News Radio AM 1050, can be reached at 202/895-5132 or mcausey@federalnewsradio.com.

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