Social Security scams: How to spot, and beat, government impostorsAugust 12, 2019 Off By administrator
Imagine you’re retired and your primary source of income is your monthly Social Security check.
Your telephone rings and an automated message says your Social Security number has been “suspended” because of some suspicious activity. You may even be threatened with arrest if you don’t call the telephone number provided in the automated message.
If someone calls saying that your Social Security number and the benefits connected to it may be in jeopardy, it’s understandable that you might panic. You’re told that to “reactivate” your Social Security number, you have to pay a fee or buy gift cards. You have reservations, but fear of being cut off from the money you so desperately need overtakes any reservations you may have.
So you call the number.
What comes next can be devastating.
“My mother is 76 and has early Alzheimer’s,” one reader wrote. “She received a call saying that her Social Security information was compromised and that the only way to rectify the situation was to buy $3,200 in gift cards to Target and GameStop and give the codes to an ‘employee.’ She was told the money would be deposited back into her bank account. Obviously, the majority of people would understand that this is a scam, but she is easily confused and gave away all of the money in her checking account. And once it was gone, there was no way to help her or recover the money.”
This Texas woman’s daughter, who wrote to me, said one store employee warned her mother that she was probably being scammed.
“In the defense of the stores, GameStop tried to talk her out of purchasing the gift cards,” the daughter said. “They knew it seemed sketchy. I guess in a perfect world they would have called the police before running the transaction, but they did try. Target was helpful in trying to gather information after the fact, and we appreciated that too.”
“Evil” is all I can think of to describe the people behind this particular scam. It’s especially heinous when you consider that many of the victims are retirees on fixed incomes.
“I wish that we would have known about the scam ahead of time, so we could have talked about it with her and warned her,” the daughter said. “My mother never could have even imagined that someone would impersonate a government employee.”
You’ve probably gotten a Social Security scam call. I’ve received many on my home and cellular phones. The Federal Trade Commission said there’s been a significant surge in scams in which impostors claim they are calling on behalf of a government agency.
“Pretending to be the government may be scammers’ favorite ruse,” the FTC said in a blog post about top impostor scams. “Government impersonators can create a sense of urgent fear, telling you to send money right away or provide your…