If you still remember, the US government is doing something to stop the skyrocketing robocalls, there are bills in Congress waiting to be voted next month. In the US, we receive billions of robocalls per month, and monthly money loss amount to 128M last year. Of course, it is promising if the bill passes in the summer, however, we should also pay attention to the latest information about phone scam in the mean time!
Picture from FTC
Unfortunately, IRS Scam (tax scam) is no stranger to most of us. As stated in the graph provided by FTC above, a reported loss to IRS scam reached $17M in its peak in 2015 to 2016, while SSA (Social Security Administration) scam exceed IRS scam and reported loss reached $19M in April 2018 to March 2019. As you might notice, SSA scam is always there (since 2014), but the reported cases suddenly skyrocketed from 2018 and becomes alarmingly high in 2019.
How the SSA scam works?
Most SSA imposter scammers call their victims by robocalls, and threaten victims by claiming themselves from the Social Security Administration. Mostly the victims are told that they are involved in some illegal or suspicious activities, therefore their social security number is suspended. Scammers are also inclined to threaten a warrant will be issued to the victim if they don’t comply. According to FTC, most victims reported sending scammers money through the PIN numbers on the back of gift cards and also some said that they transferred money through virtual currency like Bitcoin.
As reported by WJLA, a victim stated that she received a call and was told that her social security number was hacked and used in a drug deal, and a federal warrant was out for her arrest. The scammer claimed to be an investigator with the Social Security Administration and instructed the victim to withdraw money and transfer it to an secure account as her assets is to be frozen. As a result the victim lost $1500, which is the median individual reported loss to SSA scam last year, that is 4 times higher than the median individual loss for all frauds. The victim admitted that she was freaking out when she received the call, however, she also stated that the scammer made everything so official and even had an employee ID number.
How can you avoid SSA scammers?
1. Check out FTC Scam Alerts regularly
2. Caller ID is not trustworthy as the incoming call is a robocall: that the scammer may already spoofed the agency’s real number.
3. Call the real Social Security Administration: 1-800-772-1213, ask if they really reached out to you.
4. Go to IdentityTheft.gov/SSA to check what can you do if you already gave out information of your social security number to strangers
5. Visit tellows and look up the number! If you don’t find information there, then rate and leave a comment about the number, let the other users see that the number is suspicious!