Scam­mers re­write IRS script to fit So­cial Se­cu­rity

The Commercial Appeal - - Business - Susan Tom­por Detroit Free Press

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.

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