Does it seem like half the calls you get are from scammers? You’re not alone. According to data from First Orion, scams calls went from 3.7 percent of all calls in 2017 to 29.2 percent in 2018. This year, scam calls are expected to account for 44.6 percent of all calls.
Although scammers will generally go after anyone and everyone, the elderly tend to be especially vulnerable to their schemes. Warn your clients about these scams.
Social Security Scams
Your Social Security Number isn’t being suspended. This doesn’t happen. If someone says it’s happening, that person is a scammer. In some cases, Social Security scammers may threaten you with loss of benefits or even arrest. They may demand money or information. People who actually work for the Social Security Administration will not do this.
Scams targeting Medicare beneficiaries can work in a couple of ways. Sometimes, the scammers are claiming to offer supplies at a great rate. Other times, they claim to be from CMS, saying that there’s some sort of problem with the person’s account. Sometimes, the scammer will be after money. Other times, they’ll be after information, which can be used in identity theft.
To fight fraud, CMS recently mailed out new Medicare cards that do not include the beneficiary’s Social Security Number. Scammers took advantage of this by saying they needed information or money to process the new card – a complete lie.
Medicare representatives will never call you out of the blue to demand immediate payment or to request personal information.
IRS scams can be very threatening. The caller may say there’s a warrant out for your arrest. If you respond, you may be told to make a payment in order to avoid jail. The IRS doesn’t do this. These calls are scary, but they are also fake.
Call spoofing makes phone scams seem authentic. Call spoofing is a technique that lets you disguise your phone number. When you call someone, that person’s caller ID shows the number you want to appear instead of the actual number you’re calling from.
Using this technology, scammers can make it look as though they’re calling from the IRS, Medicare or Social Security. Sometimes, scammers will use call spoofing to make it look like they’re calling from your area code, which may make you more likely to pick up. They may even make it look as though they’re calling from your number!
Not all scams involve government agencies. Sometimes, scammers call pretending to be a person’s grandchild. The scammer might ask for money, claiming some sort of emergency. The scammer might have some personal information, like names, taken from social media.
In a variation of this scam, the scammer might not claim to be the grandchild, but will say the grandchild is in jail, is hurt, or has some other reason for needing money.
- If someone calls out of the blue asking for personal information, such as your Social Security Number, don’t give it to them.
- If someone calls out of the blue demanding money, don’t give it to them. Be especially wary of requests for wire transfers or gift cards.
- Don’t be intimidated by threatening calls. This is a common scare tactic.
- Don’t trust a caller just because the number looks official, as many scammers use call spoofing. If you’re not sure, hang up and contact the agency yourself.
- Scammers may also use email and text messages to make contact.
- You can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission.