Tagged: social security

Government Phone Scams: Don’t Be Fooled

Jun 14, 2019 |

Scammer Calling

Scammers use anything they can in order to trick their targets. The con artists have begun to say that they are from government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and the Federal Trade Commission. Scammers have been targeting the FTC lately as a way to convince people that they’ve won prizes in contests they have never entered. Using the FTC as a way to scam people is ironic as the independent government agency tracks and prosecutes scammers.

The Scams

Thieves call random people and say that they are employees or representatives of the FTC. The scammers tell the person that that they’ve won prizes in a sweepstakes or lottery. The “representatives” often give names and office phone numbers of real agency personnel. The person listens to the call, but is eventually asked for personal information and, of course, money. The thieves take the information and the money and disappear, while the victim has little or no recourse. Banks often protect people against fraud, so the scams usually involve paying through cash apps, wire transfers, or gift cards.

The FTC is running a campaign to stop the scams. Government agencies never run sweepstakes or lotteries, nor do they ask for money.

Reported Scams

Callers may also say that you owe money to the IRS or court system. Anyone who claims to work for the government is probably a scammer.  The FTC has written a guide on identifying the calls and what to do to avoid being a victim.

Common Scams

  • Someone calls and says you’ve won a prize, but you must send money to receive the prize.
  • The caller offers to help victims of scams recover their money.
  • You owe money to the government or IRS. If you don’t pay, you will be arrested.
  • You have unpaid debts and your bank account will be frozen until you pay.

Receiving a Call

If you receive a suspicious call, hang up. Do not press 1 to be removed or give out your personal information. The caller may make threats, but do not respond. You can block calls on your iPhone or Android if the number is in the form of a standard number. Scammers use different numbers to confuse targets, so be aware of strange numbers.

Notify law enforcement if the caller makes any type of threats. You should also report the call to ftc.gov/complaint. Include the following:

  • Date and time of the call
  • Content of any text messages
  • The name of the company used by the caller
  • If a prize was offered, note the amount of the prize amount.
  • How much money were you were asked to send? What was the requested payment method?
  • Give the caller’s phone number. Scammers use untraceable Internet phone numbers or spoof a phone number registered to the government agency. Although the numbers aren’t real, law enforcement might be able to trace them with a tracking system.
  • Note any other details from the call. Be as specific as possible.

 

Social Security Administration Warns Against Scams

Dec 16, 2018 |

rSocial Security Scam

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports a dramatic increase in phone scams. Senior citizens are targets for scammers claiming to be from the SSA. The reason for the call? To tell the senior his/her Social Security number has been suspended. The caller states there has been fraudulent or criminal activity with the card. The number is suspended to protect the real card holder.

“They say to call a number to clear it up — where they’ll ask you for personal information,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. “The caller pretends to be protecting you from a scam while he’s trying to lure you into one.”

The SSA does not suspend Social Security numbers. Not for any reason. There is no cost to reinstate it. Despite the caller’s claims, it’s a scam.

If you receive a call from an alleged SSA representative, use a free reverse phone book app for iPhone to verify the number. Some scammers spoof the SSA’s customer service number — 1-800-772-1213 — to take the scam a step further.

SSA Warns Citizens

“Unfortunately, scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people, including scaring them into thinking that something is wrong with their Social Security account and they might be arrested,” said Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone.  “I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence.  We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves.”

Protect Yourself

  • The SSA rarely, if ever, calls people on the phone. They communicate by mail.
  • Be aware that the SSA will not make threats.
  • Do not give them your bank account number.
  • Don’t give out your Social Security number.
  • Ignore demands from automated calls.
  • Never give or confirm information.
  • Don’t assume the call, text, or email is legitimate. Again, contact people by mail.
  • Check all phone numbers using an iPhone reverse cell search app.
  • Do not engage the person on the phone.

Staying Safe

  • Block phone numbers you suspect to be fake.
  • Contact government agencies directly in person, through verified phone numbers, or through their website.
  • Contact government agencies directly, using telephone numbers and website addresses you know to be legitimate.

If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from the government, report it to the FTC. Also, report suspicious calls to the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online.