BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - An increase in consumer complaints has prompted Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to renew warnings about a Social Security imposter scam sweeping the state.
Wasden said overall complaints have increased over the summer, spiking in the past week. As a result, some Idahoans have revealed sensitive information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Some have even mailed gift cards after falling victim to the scammers.
According to the Attorney General, it works like this:
"Once on the phone with a scammer, the recipient of the call is told their Social Security number has been linked to a crime. As a result of this made-up crime, the target is told their Social Security number has been blocked or suspended, but that it can be reinstated for a fee. The recipient of the call is also asked to confirm their Social Security number. Scammers sometimes vary their pitch, but the scam usually follows this general script."
Scammers have also used e-mail to approach victims. In those cases, the e-mails are designed to look as though they come from the Social Security Administration and usually directs people to a phony website where victims are asked to update their personal information.
Wasden encouraged everyone to keep their guard up. "If you find yourself being asked to share personal information with someone who called you, it is very likely a scam. Even if it means being curt, hang up the call as soon as the call feels suspicious. Remember, these are scammers and you owe them no courtesy whatsoever."
He encouraged everyone to remember four main points.
- The Social Security Administration will never call and ask for your Social Security number or ask you to pay a fee. It won't call to threaten your benefits, either.
- Your caller ID might show the SSA's real phone number (1-800-772-1213) but it's not the real SSA calling. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. Thanks to this phenomenon known as spoofing, caller ID can't always be trusted.
- Never give your Social Security number to anyone who calls you. Do not confirm the last four digits. The same goes for bank account or credit card information. Remember, when you receive a call, you have no way to know for sure who is on the other end of the line.
- Anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer. Any request for this type of payment is a huge red flag.