Maybe a handful of readers did not receive a robocall from Social Security, but I’m beginning to doubt it. The numbers of people reporting they received this scam call is surpassing anything I previously heard about in the fraud world.
And the pace only seems to be increasing with the passage of time.
The message varies in its script to some degree, and it seems to evolve and change as the weeks go by. But generally the robocall leaves a message including one of these phrases:
• Your Social Security is associated with criminal activity.
• Your Social Security is linked to fraud.
• Your Social Security will be cancelled in 24 hours unless you return this call.
• Your Social Security account is under investigation, press “1” for updates.
• Your Social Security account is compromised, press “1” for more information.
• Your Social Security number is suspended, you need to return a call to learn more.
The goal of all these messages is to coerce the recipient into returning a call, or following a prompt, to learn more information. Those folks I spoke with who did return a call tell me they often find themselves hearing a message that the number they called is out of service or they reach a dial tone. Those who do connect with a live person get threatened with arrest if they don’t reveal their Social Security number, or if they refuse to cooperate in the “investigation.” Often they hear a demand for payments, in the form of gift cards. eBay cards sound popular right now.
Caller IDs and other recording programs show us the calls originate from many different numbers. It’s very seldom when this scam is reported to me that I hear the same number twice, which is pretty good evidence the calling numbers are spoofed or faked to disguise their true origin.
Whether you are a Social Security beneficiary or not does not factor into these calls. I spoke with many who receive this call who are not eligible, with the youngest person just yesterday, a young woman 29 years old.
What should you do if you receive this robocall?
Don’t spend a nanosecond worrying about it.
The real Social Security Administration, or any government agency for that matter, doesn’t reach out through the phone. If you use call blocking, go ahead and block the offending number. I’m unsure if that does any good, but it makes me feel better to do something.
Tech support refunds
I received two calls from seniors who reported getting calls from “Microsoft” offering refunds for previously paid tech support services. In both cases, the callers persuaded the hopeful victims to allow remote access their computers, because the refunds needed to come through an online deposit.
In one case, a Dewitt man saw the callers make what looked like a $3,000 credit to his Discover account, after the scammers said they planned to pay him $300. In the second case, a Clinton woman saw what looked like a $2,000 credit to her bank account, after the scammers planned to pay $200.
After these “mistakes,” the scammers in both cases wanted to be paid back. Fortunately, each of these victims realized the pitfalls of going forward and cut off contact with the scammers. On the negative side, each of their computers got infected with viruses and needed professional attention to remove the viruses. Further on the negative side, each of these victims previously paid hefty sums to “tech support” firms who contacted them on the phone.
These tech support scams are an enduring species. They boast a better than average chance of deceiving their victims. Anyone who calls you to talk anything about computers, or offer to fix things, is a crook. Don’t talk to them, and surely don’t allow them into your computer!
Contact Seniors Vs. Crime
Let me know about scams, fraud, or other crookedness you run across. Most of what I learn, I learn from you. Contact me at Seniors vs. Crime, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, 563-242-9211 Ext. 4433, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.