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Social Security Scammers are Good at Scaring Victims

The stories being spun by scammers are getting more outlandish. Ketti Bingen discovered this after a recent caller told her there was a warrant out for her arrest.

No wonder these scams work: the people behind them have just enough information about their victims to put a good scare into them. Last year, complaints about Social Security scams took a giant jump upwards: the Federal Trade Commission reported complaints went up by 1000%, according to Fox 6 Now’s news story “‘The people who are calling have some pretty good tricks up their sleeve:’ Social security scam calls spiking.”

Ketti Bingen received a phone call telling her that someone had found a car by the side of the road somewhere in Texas that was registered in her name. They told her there was blood on the car, and when they went to the address the car was registered to, they found a massive number of illegal drugs.

The caller had the last four digits of her Social Security number. They wanted her to divulge her name and date of birth. The caller advised her to file for a new Social Security number. Lucky for her, she knew enough to hang up.

Not all Americans are that smart. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission heard from 3,200 people who were taken hook, line, and sinker–to the tune of $210,000 each in this scam. In 2018, 35,000 people were fooled. The total loss: $10 million.

The Wisconsin Consumer Protection agency and agencies across the country repeat the message: the Social Security Administration does not call and demand money from people. It never makes threats, warns of an impending arrest or demands that people send gift cards.

If the Social Security Administration wants to reach out to people, they do so by mail.

Another reason people fall prey to these phone scams is that the caller IDs on their phones appear to be coming from the government agencies. However, that is also a scam. It is not relatively easy to “spoof” a phone number, or make it appear that the number the scammer is calling from has a different caller ID number.

If you are worried about someone calling your home claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, you can call the Social Security Administration’s dedicated fraud bureau. You can request confidentiality when you call, if you are concerned about safety.

Reference: Fox 6 Now (Jan. 27, 2019) “‘The people who are calling have some pretty good tricks up their sleeve:’ Social security scam calls spiking” 

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