Social security scams involve obtaining critical information or something of value from someone through willful misrepresentation. Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to obtain money or personal details. Although scammers target everyone, the most vulnerable population is the seniors.
The primary objective of most scammers is to obtain cash and Social Security numbers (SSN). They often impersonate Social Security Administration and contact people with the message that their SSN has been used by someone else in committing a crime or applying for credit cards or bank accounts. Sometimes, they also take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to convince people that they are entitled to receive payments for social support projects such as COVID-19 relief.
Scams regularly succeed because the scammers carefully pass messages that look like the real thing, likely to catch everyone off guard. They take advantage of advanced technology, new services, and significant events to create compelling stories that are likely to make you trust them with money or personal information.
How to Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams
Some tips to protect you from falling into the traps of scammers are:
1. Be aware that scams exist.
When communicating with uninvited contacts from businesses or organizations through phone calls, social networking sites, emails, or in person, have it in mind that scams exist. Most scammers use language that is welcoming and courteous to win your trust. Afterward, they pass a very concerning message that may provoke you to give your personal information. When listening to the message, always consider the probability of a scam before building trust.
2. Know who you’re communicating with.
When you are contacted by someone you have never met before or are unsure of their legitimacy, please don’t rush to comply with their demands. Take time to do more background checks through Google image search and internet reviews from others who dealt with them.
3. Keep your personal information secure.
We all don’t know what the scammers are looking for to access our money and other critical details. Thus, be careful with the information you share on social media platforms, and ensure you keep your pins and passwords in a safe place. You can also lock your mailbox and shred all vital documents before throwing them out. Be aware that scammers can use your pictures, personal information, and location to create a fake identity to scam your friends, family, and relatives.
4. Avoid suspicious texts or links attached to emails.
If you are unsure of what a text or a link entails, search for the legitimacy of the contact through independent sources such as an online search or phone book. Avoid contacting the person through the information given in these texts or pop-up windows.
5. Hang up suspicious calls.
Most scammers contact target groups through phone calls and claim to be officers from a recognized company or organization. They sometimes ask you to turn on your phone or computer to fix a particular technical problem or install a free upgrade. If you comply, they will probably install a virus on your devices, which will enable them to obtain your passwords and other personal details.
6. Review your social media privacy and security settings.
Methods used by third parties to obtain your personal information from social media platforms are constantly changing. Learn how to manage your security and privacy settings when accessing social media sites like Facebook. You can also report suspicious accounts before blocking them.
7. Report the scam to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
Once you notice fraudulent activities through telephone calls, text messages, U.S. mail, email, or social media. The OIG will investigate and bring offenders to justice by referring the case to U.S. attorneys for prosecution as a federal crime.
Social security threats are increasingly becoming sophisticated. It would be best if you were cautious when handling or responding to random messages and calls to ensure the safety of your details and resources. At PeopleFinders, we are proud to give you some practical tips to navigate these ever-increasing fraudulent activities. Contact us for more information on social security number phishing and other scams.