Security experts are predicting that Social Security phone scams are going to multiply and get worse, according to the article “Don’t Fall For These New Social Security Phone Scams” from Forbes. The Social Security phone scam is the most common phone scam in 2019, with a 23-fold rise in frequencies. A study by BeenVerified says that Social Security numbers accounted for 10% of all fraudulent calls. The FTC says that Social Security scams cost Americans $19 million in 2018.
How are they getting away with it? Scammers know that their potential victims are screening calls, so they’ve shifted their tactics. They’re leaving official sounding voicemails, with a phone number that looks like it just might be legitimate. The area code will appear to be from Washington, D.C. However, the numbers are not even from the United States.
Here are the worst offenders:
“Your Social Security number has been suspended.” A dire sounding threat, especially to seniors who count on their Social Security benefits. The caller says there has been fraudulent or criminal activity and the only way to resolve the problem is to call back. It’s not real. The Social Security Administration does not suspend, block or freeze numbers.
“Your Social Security number has been compromised.” This is a smart scam, as everyone is worried about data breaches. The automated call requests that you enter your Social Security number to verify that it has not been breached, and may also ask you to provide details, like a bank account number. Follow these instructions, and you’ve given your Social Security number to thieves. The SSA does not make these types of calls and would never ask for confirmation of your number by phone.
“A federal case has been brought against your Social Security number.” Seniors are especially vulnerable to the idea that a lawsuit is pending against them. However, the SSA or the government does not alert people to lawsuits by phone.
“You must send money to dismiss the case against you.” The government does not request payment by gift cards. If you really owe the government money, you’ll receive an official tax notice from the IRS.
Scammers are getting more sophisticated and more brazen. Don’t become a victim.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your estate plans or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
For more information about estate planning, probate or trust administration in Cincinnati (and throughout the rest of Southwest Ohio) and to review free resources regarding estate planning, probate or trust administration, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or a particular legal matter, feel free to contact me at 513-399-PLAN (7526).
Reference: Forbes (Nov. 24, 2019) “Don’t Fall For These New Social Security Phone Scams”