Attorney General Issues New Warning after Uptick in Social Security Imposter Scam

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is renewing his call for Idahoans to be vigilant following an increase in the number of consumers being targeted by the so-called Social Security imposter scam.

Consumer complaints about the scam have increased this summer. They spiked again over the last week. The scam calls have resulted in some Idahoans revealing to scammers sensitive information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Some have mailed the scammers gift cards after falling victim to the ruse.

The scam usually works like this: Once on the phone with a scammer, the recipient of the call is told their Social Security number has been linked to a crime. As a result of this made-up crime, the target is told their Social Security number has been blocked or suspended, but that it can be reinstated for a fee. The recipient of the call is also asked to confirm their Social Security number. Scammers sometimes vary their pitch, but the scam usually follows this general script.

In the past, scammers have also used email to approach potential victims. In these cases, the email is designed to look as though it came from the Social Security Administration. The email directs recipients to a website where victims are asked to update their personal information so they can receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

“This day and age, we have to keep our guard up against these scammers,” Wasden said. “If you find yourself being asked to share personal information with someone who called you, it is very likely a scam. Even if it means being curt, hang up the call as soon as the call feels suspicious. Remember, these are scammers and you owe them no courtesy whatsoever.”

Wasden asks Idahoans to remember these four main points:

1. The Social Security Administration will never call and ask for your Social Security number or ask you to pay a fee. It won’t call to threaten your benefits, either.

2. Your caller ID might show the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213) but it’s not the real SSA calling. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. Thanks to this phenomenon known as spoofing, caller ID can’t always be trusted.

3. Never give your Social Security number to anyone who calls you. Do not confirm the last four digits. The same goes for bank account or credit card information. Remember, when you receive a call, you have no way to know for sure who is on the other end of the line.

4. Anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer. Any request for this type of payment is a huge red flag.

Wasden encourages Idahoans to talk about this and other scams with friends, family and neighbors so they’re less likely to be victimized.

If you have questions about these or other scams, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 208-334-2424 or toll free at 1-800-432-3545.

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