We live in an age where almost all of the nation's population has a mobile device. In many ways, it has been a fantastic development, allowing us to stay in touch with friends and family more easily, and making more and better information readily available to us whenever it is needed. But there are also some down-sides as well. Perhaps one of the biggest is the ability of fraudsters and scammers to quickly and easily gain access to some of the most vulnerable people in our population.
I represent family members of older people who are stressed about paying for nursing home costs, as well as Social Security disability claimants. These are both populations that are commonly targeted by such scammers, who often pretend to be representatives of the IRS or Social Security.
Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration declared a #slamthescam day in an effort to raise awareness of some of the schemes that are used by scammers to get the attention of their victims and then trick them into handing over money or giving up personal information. As a part of the campaign, the administration pointed to several tactics that are used by scammers. They include:
- Calling with a message that your Social Security account and/or benefits have been "suspended" because they have been used in a crime. The caller will often then offer to resolve the issue for a fee.
- Insisting that some sort-of fine has been levied against a beneficiary, and then asking for immediate payment to resolve the issue.
- Posing as a government employee who is calling about Social Security or other government benefits, and then asking for "confirmation" of identity by seeking personal information.
As a general rule, if someone calls you or your loved one without any warning and starts asking for personal information or money, it is probably a scam. The federal government, and particularly the IRS and Social Security, are never going to call you out of the blue and do this kind of thing. Your best option is to hang up and even ignore the calls and text messages.