Friday, July 13, 2007

If Social Security calls requesting personal information, it might be smart to verify who you are talking to!

(Nice Photo courtesy of Long N at Flickr)

If you get an unsolicited call from an "alleged" Social Security employee, it might be wise to verify (independently), who is calling you. Of course -- you should do this by using a number obtained from a legitimate source, and not one pointed to by the person calling -- who might be trying to steal by using your good name.

The Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration recently reported:

Over the past several months, the Office of the Inspector General has received a number of reports relating circumstances where individuals have been contacted by someone pretending to be an SSA employee. The caller identifies himself/herself as an SSA employee and may even provide a toll-free number as a point of contact. The caller generally asks for personal identifying information such as:

  • Social Security Number

  • Date of Birth

  • Mother's maiden name

  • Bank account information

  • Other financial account information
The impersonator may state that "the SSA computers are down" or may refer to enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug program. The intent of the impersonator is to steal your identity and/or funds from your bank accounts.

It is possible that an SSA employee may contact you to follow-up on a previous application for benefits, application for a subsidy for the Medicare Part D program, or to follow-up on business you have initiated with SSA. If you are unsure as to the authenticity of someone who claims to be an SSA employee, please call SSA's
toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person's identity.

More information on this particular scam can be viewed on the link provided to the original press release below.

I always recommend reporting fraud attempts. At a minimum, it helps get the word out and you never know when it will lead to someone getting caught.

Information about the OIG's fraud hotline can be obtained from the Reporting Fraud section of the OIG's website.

Link to SSA press release, here.

Scams using the telephone are nothing new, but with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology, the frequency with which they are being seen is increasing. The reason for this is that VoIP has made calling long distance cheap.

Telephone scams using VoIP are often referred to as "vishing." If you are interested in more information on this type of scam, I've written some other posts, which can be seen, here.

Impersonating official agencies is nothing new, either. In the recent past, the IRS, FBI, DOJ, FTC and even Interpol have all been spoofed (impersonated) as part of a fraud scheme involving vishing, or it's sister scam, phishing.

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