While not necessarily a new type of scam, rates of scams by government impostors are starting to rise rapidly across the country, especially from scammers claiming to represent Social Security. Administration.
As tax season draws to a close and the rate of IRS impersonation scams begins to decline, SSA impersonators are rising to take their place. In 2020, more than $ 395,000 was lost to government impostor scams across the country, and a large chunk of those scams claim they are SSA representatives, Better Business Bureau data shows. Scam Tracker.
In a biannual report presented to Congress in May, the Inspector General of the SSA reported that rates of fraudulent Social Security calls increased exponentially between May and August 2020. In addition, scammers use advanced techniques to convince the victims of their legitimacy, in particular by using the official telephone of the SSA. numbers, employee names, official logos or symbols and federal badges manufactured. In some cases, crooks text or email copies of these badges to victims to convince suspicious consumers of their legitimacy.
To combat imitators, the Office of the Inspector General of Social Security Administration declares that the SSA should never:
- text or electronic images of an official employee ID
- suspend your social security number
- threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or costs
- require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or postal cash
- promising increased benefits or other assistance in exchange for payment
- send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email
Additionally, the SSA will only use text to communicate in limited situations if the recipient has chosen to receive text messages. SSA will communicate via text message if you have subscribed to receive SSA updates and notifications via text message or as part of SSA enhanced security measures when accessing your social security account online.
“Don’t believe anyone who calls you unsolicited by a government agency and threatens you – just hang up,” SSA Inspector General Gail S. Ennis said in a January 8 press release. “They can use real names or badge numbers to sound more official, but they’re not. We will continue to keep you updated on the evolution of scam tactics, as public awareness is the best weapon we have against them.
To avoid scams by government imposters, such as SSA impersonators, the Better Business Bureau recommends consumers follow these guidelines:
Evaluate the first contact. Government agencies usually contact you by regular mail and are unlikely to contact you by phone, email, or text message, especially if unsolicited. If the caller is threatening or aggressive, it is best to hang up and personally contact the agency through their official website.
Do not rely on names or badge numbers. Impostors can easily access the names of government employees for many agencies online, which they use to establish their credibility. Badge numbers can also be viewed or fabricated, and the apparent willingness of a caller to disclose their name or badge number is a tactic used to gain trust.
Avoid being under pressure. A common tactic for government impostor scams is to use fear-mongering tactics to convince a victim to pay immediately or risk being jailed, fined, or other punishment. They can threaten that a law enforcement officer will be dispatched to your home immediately unless the unpaid “bill” is paid in full.
Make known. If you or someone you know has been exposed to a scam by a government impostor, be it the SSA or another government agency, be sure to let your friends and family know about it. the scam and report it to the appropriate agency and BBB Scam Tracker.
Visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov to report identity theft, scams, and fraudulent business practices.
If you’ve been the victim of a Social Security identity theft scam, report it to the SSA Inspector General’s Office at oig.ssa.gov/report.
BBB asks those who have been scammed to report it to BBB Scam Tracker. The information provided may prevent another person from being a victim.
Kelvin Collins is President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, which includes the Augusta-Aiken metro area. Direct questions or complaints about a specific business or charity to (800) 763-4222 or [email protected]