Have you gotten calls about supposed problems with your Social Security number from callers pretending they’re with the Social Security Administration (SSA)? If so, you’re not alone. Our latest Data Spotlight finds that reports about SSA imposters are surging, while reports about IRS imposters have taken a dive.
As the Spotlight puts it, “In the shady world of government imposters, the SSA scam may be the new IRS scam.” While reports of SSA imposters have swelled – nearly half of the reports we’ve gotten in the last year have come in the past two months alone – reports of IRS scammers have plunged. What’s more, people told us they lost $19 million to SSA imposters in the past year. That overtakes the $17 million reported lost to IRS imposters in 2016, the peak year of the IRS scam.
How can you spot SSA imposters? They often use robocalls to reach you, then launch into a story aimed at tricking you into giving them your money, your Social Security number (SSN), or both. They may say your SSN has been suspended and you need to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Or, they may say your SSN has been involved in a crime and your bank account is about to be seized or frozen, but you can protect your money if you put it on a gift card and give them the code. Never do that – your money will disappear.
If you get one of these calls, remember – the real SSA will nevercontact you out of the blue or tell you to put money on a gift card or, for that matter, visit a Bitcoin ATM, or wire money. If your caller ID shows a number that looks like it belongs to the SSA, don’t trust the number – scammers fake their caller ID all the time. If you’re worried, hang up and call the SSA yourself at 1-800-772-1213.
SOURCE: Federal Trade Commission new release
“Older people play an outsized role in civic life. They also are more likely to be online targets for misinformation and hyperpartisan rhetoric.”
by Craig Silverman
“FORT WASHINGTON, Maryland — It’s late morning and roughly 25 senior citizens are learning how to talk to Siri. They pick up their iPads and press the home button, and pings echo around the room as Siri asks what she can do to help.
“‘Siri, what’s the closest coffee shop?’ one woman asks.
“‘Sorry I’m having trouble with the connection, please try again?’ Siri says.
“A handful of employees with AARP, the national nonprofit focused on Americans age 50 and older, hover behind the participants and jump in to help. They’re in Fort Washington, Maryland, to deliver four free workshops about how to use an iPad. Participants learn how to turn it on, what an app is, how to text, and how to flip the camera to take a selfie, among other activities.”
FTC, States Continue Fight against Sham Charities; Shut Down Operations That Falsely Claimed to Help Disabled Police Officers and Veterans
Orders ban defendants from soliciting charitable contributions
The operators of two purported sham charities have agreed to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorneys General of Missouri and Florida that they deceived donors with false claims that their organizations helped disabled police officers and military veterans. The operators of both schemes are permanently banned from charitable solicitations or otherwise working for charities.
The settlements with Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation, Inc. (DPSF), and American Veterans Foundation, Inc. (AVF), highlight the FTC’s ongoing efforts to stop sham charities from defrauding donors.
“The FTC and state agencies joined forces to stop illegitimate charities that lie to donors about how their generous contributions will be used,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “You can help—and make sure your donation counts—by checking out a charity before you give. Learn more at ftc.gov/charity.”
Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation, Inc.
DPSF (also doing business as The American Police and Sheriffs Association, and Police Officers Safety Association), and its founder and Executive Director David Kenik, are banned from soliciting charitable contributions under a settlement with the FTC and the state of Missouri, for falsely claiming that consumers’ donations would be used to help police officers and families of slain officers, provide life-saving equipment to law enforcement agencies, and provide advanced, specialized training for law enforcement officers and departments.
DPSF solicitations appealed to consumers’ desire to support the law enforcement officers who protect us all. For example, one solicitation explained that:
“We also provide . . . relief to families of officers killed in the line of duty. … Every day officers bravely go out to protect our streets knowing an officer is killed in the line of duty every other day in our country. They are truly real life heroes.” [emphasis in original];
Consumers responded to the calls for help and donated more than $9.9 million to the ostensible charity. In reality, DPSF spent almost nothing helping the families of officers slain in the line of duty, or assisting disabled police and sheriffs.
The defendants are charged with violating the FTC Act, the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and Missouri state law.
“Robocalls are rising sharply in the U.S., and there’s no disconnect in sight.”
by Addison Nugent
“New York artist Jennifer May Reiland’s phone rings all the time. While that gives the impression that she’s a very popular lady, the constant calls she gets aren’t from real people: They’re robocalls or telemarketing algorithms trying to sell her something. While this is a daily annoyance for many, Jennifer’s relationship with robocallers goes even deeper. ‘I work at a bookstore and for a while, I guess robocallers were spoofing our number because we would get multiple calls each day from people demanding angrily, “Why did you just call me?” and when I said we didn’t, they refused to believe me,’ she says.
“As strange as this situation was, it wasn’t the fact that a robocall agency had stolen her work’s phone number that surprised Reiland. It was the fact that all of these people had actually answered their phones. ‘It mainly just amazed me that people actually call back unknown numbers that called them!’ she exclaimed. ‘I assume all unknown numbers are robocalls at this point.’”
Keep reading this article at OZY.com, click here.
“Attorneys general are urging Congress to pass legislation cracking down on spam calls.” – Route Fifty
by Kate Elizabeth Queram
“Attorneys general from every state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia signed on to an appeal urging Congress to pass legislation cracking down on robocalls and spoofing techniques that trick consumers into answering by making calls appear to come from local numbers.
“‘The State AGs are on the front lines of enforcing do-not-call laws and helping consumers who are harassed and scammed by unwanted telemarketing calls and robocalls,’ reads the letter, sent last week to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. ‘Robocalls and telemarketing calls are currently the number one source of consumer complaints at many of our offices, as well as at both the FCC and the FTC.’
“The proposed legislation, titled the ‘Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act …'”
Lest you think this cannot happen here in the Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Counties area, do not be deluded. Romance scams do happen here and we have evidence that some people have lost lots of money in the pursuit of companionship. The Federal Bureau of Investigation warns about “Romance Scams | Online Imposters Break Hearts and Bank Accounts.”
“On the internet, you can become anyone you want to – at least for a while. And though deception doesn’t fit well with lasting romance, people lie all the time: Fewer than a third of people in one survey claimed they were always honest in online interactions, and nearly nobody expected others to be truthful. Much of the time, lies are meant to make the person telling them seem better somehow – more attractive, more engaging or otherwise worth getting to know.
“‘Catfishing’ is a more advanced effort of digital deception. Named in a 2010 movie that later expanded into an MTV reality series, a catfish is a person who sets up an intentionally fake profile on one or more social network sites, often with the purpose of defrauding or deceiving other users.
“It happens more than people might think – and to more people than might believe it. Many times in my own personal life when I was seeking to meet people online, I found that someone was being deceptive. In one case, I did a Google image search and found a man’s profile picture featured on a site called ‘Romance Scams.’ ”
You can read this article in its entirety at The Conversation, click here.
Here are just two of the email offers we received today:
“Hello, How are you doing? I hope your doing great? I am Capt. William Hall an officer in the U.S Army. I have a transaction that i believe will be of mutual benefit to both of us. I hope you can be trusted to handle some serious and confidential transactions? Please contact me asap for more details.”
“al ethics but please treat with absolute secrecy and personal. My name is Mr Naji Otri from Damascus Syria. i’m now a retired government officials I was the former prime minister of the Federal Republic of SYRIA and ex-agriculture minister,personal investor & financial consultant advisers to some Top Politician in Syria, I chairman a group of company Kabour brothers co (Hermanos) and Al Furat Petroleum Company (AFPC) the leader in the region in Reservoir Management AFPC was established under Service Contract no. 210 ratified by Law no. 43 of 1977 and named as per decree-law no.12 in
Am interested in buying properties houses, Building real estate as
means to secure stability to my money ,I will appreciate your idea and
knowledge regarding this or any other profitable investment you may
suggest, on my next email i will explain to you the full details of
this investment Proposal.
I shall tell you more about myself and my family on my next email,
upon your respond, you may as well tell me little more about yourself.
I’m waiting for your good responds.
Waiting for your reply and let me know if i can trust you the civil
war in my country has left me with no option and i may lose all my
money soon if nothing is done fast.contactme here pls.
These folks keep slinging stuff against the wall hoping that some of it sticks. These are obvious scams. The spelling and the grammar are so bad; that should be tip-off number one.
Just delete emails like this; see what the Federal Bureau of Investigation has to say about email scams.