There’s no shortage of scumbags out there looking to take advantage of the elderly. And there’s no limit to how their devious imaginations work to try to come up with new methods to part retirees from their hard-earned money. Now there’s a new scam out there that many older Americans are falling victim to.
Many people by now are probably familiar with the IRS scam, which targeted Americans by claiming that they would go to prison if they failed to pay some alleged tax debt. That scam netted hundreds of millions of dollars for its creators, although many behind the scam have since been caught and sent to prison.
Now the newest scam is targeting Social Security numbers, with callers claiming that the individual’s Social Security number has been suspended due to criminal or suspicious activity. Those who respond to the pitch and speak to a supposed government representative are then urged to pay a fee to reactivate their Social Security number. Many are urged to buy gift cards, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, or otherwise transfer money to the scam artists. Total losses from the scam so far are estimated to be around $19 million.
It’s important for seniors never to fall victim to scams like this. Here are a few things to remember:
- Government agencies will never initiate contact like this via phone. When agencies want to contact you with regard to serious matters it will always be by mail.
- Phone numbers are easily spoofed, so even if your caller ID indicates that the number is from a government agency, it may not be.
- Never ever give your Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, or other sensitive information to someone over the phone.
- Government agencies will never ever require you to make payments using gift cards, cryptocurrencies, or other non-standard methods of payment.
- Social Security numbers can never be suspended.
- If you have any doubts about the validity of a phone call, call that agency directly. Contact information for the IRS is available at the IRS website, and contact information for the Social Security Administration is available at the SSA website.
- If you think that you have been the victim of one of these scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission to report it.