RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The federal government says a social security scam has become an epidemic.
The scam works by tricking people with a common ruse. Criminals use technology to spoof the caller ID they’re calling from to say the call is coming in from the Social Security Administration.
Thomas Allen said back in March he got a phone call from someone claiming there was a problem with his social security card. The caller said his social security card was found in Texas in a blood-covered vehicle filled with drugs and they needed proof he wasn’t there.
Allen said he gave the caller a lot of personal information, as well as the last four digits of his social security number.
“I did because she sounded so real,” he said.
The same scam happened to Wayne Chertoff when a scammer calling threatened him with arrest.
“She said that my social security number is being suspended because in El Paso, Texas, somebody was using my name and social security number to send thousands of dollars to Mexico and Columbia,” he said.
To avoid arrest, he purchased $1,400 worth of Google play cards. He was told by the caller the money would be refunded to him, but he never saw it again.
CBS News reported that the Federal Trade Commission said more than 76,000 people have complained to that agency about the scam, which is already outpacing the fake IRS call scam.
The FTC said that scam took in $17 million in its peak year. It also said the social security call scam has already defrauded consumers out of $19 million.
“What we have are scammers who have decided that it is too recognizable to pretend to be the IRS anymore,’’ said Monica Vaca with the FTC. “They know that they can’t get away with that anymore so they’ve come up with a new angle, a new twist.”
The big takeaway from this is to not trust caller ID. Never give information to someone claiming to be from a government agency.
Instead, look up the number and call that agency back to check on the legitimacy of the claim that way.
The Federal Trade Commission offers a guide on how to recognize a government imposter.