Evil people are ever inventing news ways to cheat you of your money. One way is to pretend to be the Social Security Administration.
In the last year, Americans filed more than 76,000 complaints about Social Security impostors, reporting $19 million in losses. The median reported loss last year was $1,500, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said.
David P. Willis reports for USA Today, May 14, 2019, that consumer advocates are raising the alert about a new “Social Security impostor scam,” which the FTC calls “may be the new IRS scam.”
Here’s how it works:
- You get a call with a warning that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because it’s been used in a crime.
- You are asked to confirm you SS number or told you need to withdraw money from the bank and buy gift cards.
- You are asked for the personal identification number (PIN) on the back of gift cards or use virtual currencies like Bitcoin to pay.
- The phone call may be a robocaller with a message to “press 1” to speak with a “support representative” from the government to reactivate your Social Security number.
- The scammers use technology to spoof your Caller ID to make it look like the Social Security Administration is really calling.
After handing over the gift card numbers to the “Social Security office,” one consumer interviewed by Fraud.org was told he would receive a refund equal to the amount he paid to unfreeze his account from the Federal Reserve. Of course, the refund never came and the man lost nearly $20,000.
John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud with the National Consumers League, said that with numerous data breaches that have hit corporate America, fraudsters may already have accurate personal information about you, including your real Social Security number. The information is used to build trust and make the call seem more legitimate.
According to Fraud.org and the FTC, here are some important things to remember:
- Don’t trust your phone’s caller ID. Scammers can make it look as if the Social Security Administration is calling and even use the agency’s real number.
- Don’t give your Social Security number, other personal information, to a caller on the phone.
- Social Security will never suspend your number, according to Fraud.org. If anyone tells you something different, you’re being scammed.
- Social Security will never call you and demand money. No government agency will demand you pay something using gift cards or Bitcoin either.
If you have a question, check with the real Social Security Administration. The administration will never contact you out of the blue. The agency’s number is 1-800-772-1213.
Report government impostor scams to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
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