Scammers rewrite IRS script to fit Social Security
Watch out, the Social Security scam is looking like the new IRS scam.
Crooks increasingly are impersonating an official from the Social Security Administration, making harassing calls similar to the annoying Internal Revenue Service calls.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network now has had more complaints to its helpline in the past few months from consumers targeted by Social Security impostors than the old IRS scam, according to Amy Nofziger, AARP fraud expert.
It shouldn’t be surprising, especially after some successful crackdowns on the widespread IRS impersonation scam. The IRS impostor scam – which began heating up in late 2013 – enabled scammers to steal more than $73.6 million from 14,958 victims over time through late November 2018, according to the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Make no mistake, scam calls aren’t going away. Nearly half of all calls to mobile phones are expected to be fraudulent in one way or another in 2019, according to First Orion, a provider of phone call and data transparency solutions.
Some clues to the Social Security scams:
❚ Sometimes, the number on your caller ID can show up as 800-772-1213. It’s a legitimate number but that doesn’t mean the call isn’t from a scammer.
❚ If someone asks for information in order to make sure that you get a bigger Social Security check each month, it’s a fraud.
❚ Social Security also isn’t going to call and threaten that your benefits will be terminated.
❚ Some crooks claim that the Social Security computers are down and they need you to help to provide some information. A huge red flag – Social Security already has your Social Security number and won’t be calling to ask you to hand over that number to them.
❚ If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from the Social Security Administration, you should report that information to the Office of the Inspector General for Social Security at 800-269-0271 for the Social Security fraud hotline. Or you can make a fraud report online at oig.ssa.gov/report. Reports of the scam are sweeping the country. Consumers can spot some incidents via the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork. The site has a Scam Tracking map.
The latest AARP alerts for Michigan include warnings from police about someone going door-to-door offering a “better Medicare plan.” Not surprisingly, the man at the door wanted to see the senior’s old Medicare card, which shows the client’s Social Security Number, according to investigators. The senior was suspicious and asked the man to leave.